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Think Well Before Taking Up Any Work

According to the Tamil classic Thirukkural one should ‘Think well before taking up any work. To start thinking after beginning the work is disgraceful.’  A sound knowledge of the nature of work, technical expertise, tools required and so on — obviously, all this is need to be considered before embarking on any venture. But is there anything more? Yes, according to the Bhagavad Gita there are certain important things we need to know before taking up any work. There are both objective (external) and subjective (internal) factors. First, the objective; these are discussed in the Gita, 18.25.

Every work leaves its pleasant and unpleasant effects on people — one who does the work as also those affected by the work. ‘No work is free from blemish, even as fire is covered by smoke,’ says Sri Krishna, and advises Arjuna not to shun work just because it is associated with defects. For work to be effective, one needs to consider all possible consequences of work and choose that option which will mean maximum good to the maximum number of people.

A dispassionate knowledge of our strengths and limitations helps us maintain sobriety and ensure that we don’t live in a fool’s paradise. Embarking on a venture without adequate competence is a compelling invitation to inefficiency, ineffectiveness and frustration.

Cutting corners or adopting unethical means might help further the end sometimes, but the negative samskaras (mental impressions) arising from the questionable means can cripple an individual’s character.

We will understand the futility of our attempts to change others when we reflect on how difficult it is to change ourselves. In trying to effect external change, it is good to remember the well known prayer: ‘God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.’

Source - Excerpts from Prabuddha Bharata editorial September 2004.