Chapter III, Verse 23
Sri Nerode’s Translation:
If I mingled not in action ever unwearied, men all around could follow my Path of Inertia. (Nature is always active; so nature compels man to act. Behind nature is the spirit of God that moves.)
If God ceased activity, his human children would follow his example.
Activity is required to sustain physical life. Physical manifestation directly responds to the intentions and actions of each person.
In the last verse, verse 22, Krishna speaking as God the Father beyond creation states that He is engaged in action constantly despite having nothing to gain.
In this verse, God the Father states that if He were not constantly active, humans would follow His example of inaction and never progress.
In the next verse, Krishna explains that if God ceases action then creation ceases to exist.
This continues the tradition of Gita where a statement is made and the following verses echo that statement with both argument and explanation. 22: Engage in activity without expectation. 23: Action is the Supreme example. 24: If God ceases to act, then creation will cease to exist.
Consider what happens to humans who cease activity, such as those who exist in a comatose state. Every aspect of their body atrophies. They lose weight and muscle mass despite being fed. Over time even the comatose brain shrinks from lack of proper use. Nature extracts her fee whether or not the human participates in the process.
There are also persons of extreme inertia, for example a person who rarely moves except to eat. In this case nature supports the human’s sole course of action and manifests an ever-larger body until that body fails entirely.
Right actions produce right results. Determine which results you wish to achieve in life and then choose supporting actions. For enlightenment, it is required that one perform right actions without expectation of the results.
In other words, do the best you can do in this very moment. Success increases as one learns to perform ever-better actions from moment to moment. Follow God’s example and choose to engage with the world through right activity.
Easter Eggs (hidden references to deeper meanings) in the original version of this this verse include:
Partha – Son of Pritha
Pritha is the birth name of Arjuna’s mother Kunti. Partha indicates the state of human consciousness that is innocent or naïve.
I sense a deeper progression of Sanskrit in these verses, but honestly cannot articulate the meaning at this time.
Download a PDF copy of this post.