Understanding Gita – 64

Chapter 3 – Karma Yoga

Shloka 35 – 36


śreyān sva-dharmo vigua
para-dharmāt sv-anuṣṭhitāt
sva-dharme nidhana śreya
para-dharmo bhayāvaha


śreyānfar better; svadharmaone’s prescribed duties; viguaeven faulty; paradharmātfrom duties mentioned for others; svanuthitātthan perfectly done; svadharmein one’s prescribed duties; nidhanamdestruction; śreyabetter; paradharmaduties prescribed for others; bhayaāvahadangerous.

Text Source – “http://prabhupadabooks.com/bg

It is far better to do one’s prescribed duties even faultily, than doing other’s duties perfectly. It is better to die doing one’s duty; doing para-dharma(other’s duties) is dangerous.

In the previous verse, we got to know that one is pulled to act according to one’s own nature. It should be regulated by regulating the Indriyas, by giving them no choice of likes and dislikes.

Now, the Lord is talking about following one’s dharma. One’s constituency may be more of a brahmana, one’s more of a kshatriya, one’s more of a vaishya. If a brahmana, who should be more into gaining wisdom and spreading wisdom, behaves like a vaishya, using his knowledge only to earn money and not to spread knowledge, then he is doing para-dharma. 

A kshatriya(soldier) on the other hand does not want to fight, but pretends to be a brahmana(ahimsa), then he is also not adhering to his dharma properly. It is better to die doing one’s own duty.    

Divya: It is better to take care of your own house and relationships faultily, than taking care of other’s problems perfectly.



arjuna uvāca
atha kena prayukto ‘ya
pāpa carati pūrua
anicchann api vārṣṇeya
balād iva niyojita


arjuna uvācaArjuna said; athahereafter; kenaby what; prayuktaimpelled; ayamone; pāpamsins; caratiacts; pūruaa man; anicchanwithout desiring; apialthough; vārṣṇeya—O descendant of Vṛṣṇi; balātby force; ivaas if; niyojitaengaged.

Text Source – “http://prabhupadabooks.com/bg

Arjuna said –

But by what is a man impelled to do sins? even though unwilling O Varsneya, as if engaged by force.

In the previous verse Lord talked about following one’s own dharma. Now Arjuna asks, what makes a man take the wrong path(adharma), unwillingly, as if compelled to do so?

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