Karma Yoga – Yoga of Action
After the second chapter, where Krishna explains about Sankhya Yoga (Knowledge), Arjuna asks here, why should I perform this dreadful action? (going to war) as you have said knowledge is superior to action!
Krishna answers that there are two kinds of Sadhana (spiritual practice/discipline), one is for the Sankhya Yogi, and one for the Karma Yogi. Merely sitting without action is not Sankhya Yoga, or not entering into action will not give freedom from action, and is not Karma Yoga.
So what IS Karma Yoga?
Krishna explains, controlling the organs of sense and action, by the power of will, remaining unattached, understanding yoga of action through these organs, that is Karma Yoga. Therefore, Arjuna should fight, action is superior to inaction.
The importance of sacrifice
At the beginning of creation Brahma said sacrifice may yield enjoyment men seek. One who enjoys the fruit of Gods without offering them anything is a thief! Do not cook to nourish your body alone! Cooking involves fire and heat, just like the sacrifice is done, hence one should treat cooking as a sacrifice, offer the food you cook for God.
Food comes from rain, rain comes from sacrifice and sacrifice is rooted in action. Perform action without attachment. Even God himself works all the time even when He doesn’t need to.
“Prakriteh kriyamaanaani gunaih karmaani sarvashaha, ahankaaravimoodhaatma kartaahamiti manyate” (ch. 3,27)
“All actions are being performed by the modes of Prakriti (Primordial Matter). The fool, whose mind is deluded by the egoism, thinks: “I am the doer”.”
“Tattvavittu mahaabaaho gunakarmavibhaagayoha, gunaa guneshu vartanta iti matvaa na sajjate” (ch. 2,28)
“He, however, who has true insight into the respective spheres of Gunas (modes of Prakriti) and their actions, holding that it is the Gunas (in the shape of the senses, mind, etc.) that move among the Gunas (objects of perception), does not get attached to them, Arjuna.”
Arjuna further asks: how a man commit a sin involuntarily? When he is driven by force…
Krishna answers: Desire with the Rajas element ends in wrath! It is wicked and insatiable, that is the true enemy in this case!
“Dhoomenaavriyate vahniryathaadarsho malena cha, yatholbenaavrito garbhastathaa tenedamaavritam” (ch. 3,38)
“As fire is covered by smoke, mirror by dust, and embryo by the amnion, so is knowledge covered by desire.”
The eternal enemy of knowledge is desire, which is insatiable just like fire, which consumes whatever is in it. The seats of desire are the mind, the intellect (Buddhi), and the senses. Desire deludes the embodied soul through these seats, so in order to get knowledge, one must control the senses, then desire can be killed. The senses are greater than the body, the mind is greater than the senses, and greater than the mind is the intellect, higher than the intellect is the Self, thus control the senses, know the Self and then desire (the enemy) can be beaten!