Chapter III, Verse 33
Sri Nerode’s Translation:
Even a wise man acts in conformity with his own nature. (Therefore many follow their innate nature and never follow MY teachings.) Beings follow their inner nature. Therefore mere suppression of one’s own nature does not avail much.
Even the intellectual man is bound by material laws and past actions. Some fight against these laws but amount to little.
Habits are one’s own nature. Bad habits of thought and self-destructive living are common even among the intelligent and educated.
The history of the world is filled with tales of men who have succumbed to the temptations of sex, drugs and material greed. One person imagines that their social status makes them better than another person. Yet the rich and poor, the educated and the stupid, the beautiful and the ugly, all of these opposites contract venereal diseases, become addicted to intoxicants and fall prey to the many negative outcomes of gross materialism. For the greedy person, the temptation to steal from others perhaps being the most common.
The worldly man worships another worldly man whom he considers to be more advanced. The difference in their fitful, limited and capricious experience is only a matter of degree.
The material man is bound by his senses and is unable to overcome the laws of habit by suppression.
In this verse Krishna informs Arjuna that man who keeps his vow of monogamy while cultivating the thought of sex with others, and a man who avoids alcohol while remembering the good times he enjoyed while inebriated, and the man who follows the letter of the law regarding fair commerce practices while looking to take advantage of each deal by working around the agreement — all of these men have not learned anything about Divine, eternal law. The humans who thoughts betray their actions are only lying to themselves if they think that they have progressed.
Without the intuitive understanding born from deep meditation, the human experience is cyclical, repetitive and offers little progress towards fulfillment. Correct your poor habits by aligning your thoughts with your actions.
Similar verses from the Western Bible include:
“As for this temple you are building, if you follow my decrees, observe my laws and keep all my commands and obey them, I will fulfill through you the promise I gave to David your father.” 1 Kings 6:12 (NIV)
He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” Luke 24:44 (NIV)
Easter Eggs (hidden references to deeper meanings) in the original version of this this verse include:
Viewed in the context of the entire series of versus, Krishna speaks about an intellectual, worldly man versus an enlightened wise man. The “helpful translation” makes this distinction.
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