Even a Worldly Person Can Understand Nonattachment

Chapter III, Verse 9

Sri Nerode’s Translation:


There is work of sacrifice and holiness – (work that is done with spiritual motive) unlike the toil that binds one to the world. Therefore, O Arjuna, work with the motive of sacrifice and holiness – free of personal desire. (The spiritual motive means that the right motive does not bind the soul to the fetters of karma.)


Helpful Translation:

Attachment binds humans to their actions. Non-attachment to action, especially to the fruit of the action, releases the devotee from ignorance.


In this verse, Arjuna is called “Kaunteya” which indicates a worldly consciousness that is not naïve. On the surface, this verse is directed at the person who has intellectual development but not necessarily spiritual interest. In terms of Sanskrit study this verse is intended for one who has experienced some “astral” elements related to the chakras.

Both, the worldly person and the aspiring sage who has had some deeper experiences of spirit, are able to discern the difference between embracing the action of the present moment and pursing the hoped-for outcome. It is said that “The journey is more important than the goal.” The same sentiment is true for all aspects of life. Enjoy the present moment and the result will appear at the right time.

When you’ve had a great day and the next time you find yourself unexpectedly happy, take time to contemplate those moments. More often than not, you’ll find that you are happiest when your needs (and desires) were met with no apparent planning or effort on your part. In other words, your joy came from the fulfillment of your needs without a preconceived notion about how, when or why that need would be fulfilled.

Now, imagine living your life as a long series of joyous moments. Anyone can move closer to a happy and fulfilling life by embracing this moment completely. Have a positive attitude and do your best in whatever situation you find yourself. Don’t worry about lunch or dinner until the time to address those needs arises. How often do people wake up thinking, “I have to shop for groceries after work.” and then spend the entire day compiling the list. Try instead, to take five minutes and make the list when you recognize the need. Then spend your entire workday focused on the work at hand. When you stop at the grocery store your list is already made and you will not have spent your entire day distracted.

Whether you are a worldly person or an aspiring sage, happiness from moment to moment is only possible by embracing each moment completely.

Easter Eggs:

Easter Eggs (hidden references to deeper meanings) in the original version of this this verse include:

KaunteyaSon of Kunti

Kunti is Arjuna’s mother. Kaunteya indicates the state of consciousness that is worldly, or no longer naïve. The feminine origin of this moniker indicates it is related to the ida nadi.

Yajna – Misinterpreted as sacrifice, religious rites, and even as the Hindu fire ritual, in this verse Yajna means to act with the positive quality (Sattwa guna) as it applies to one’s personal situation.

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Ancient History

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