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The Canons of a Perfect Life

Being comprehensive selections from the Bhagavadgita
by Swami Krishnananda

Inaction Is Contrary to Nature

  • Verily, none can ever remain for even a moment without performing action; for everyone is made to act helplessly indeed by the qualities born of Nature. (III.5)

Action Is the Law of Life

  • Do thou perform (thy) bounden duty, for action is superior to inaction; even the maintenance of the body would not be, possible for thee by inaction. (III.8)

Action Not Involving Self-sacrifice Is Binding

  • The world is bound by actions other than those performed for the sake of sacrifice; do thou, therefore; O son of Kunti (Arjuna), perform action for that sake (for sacrifice alone), free from attachment. (III.9)

God Created Beings with an Ordinance for Self-sacrifice

  • The Creator, having in the beginning created mankind together with sacrifice, said, "By this shall ye propagate; let this be the milch cow of your desires (the source which yields all the desired objects)." (III.10)

Mutual Cooperative Spirit Brings Success

  • With this (sacrifice) do ye nourish the gods, and may those gods nourish ye; thus nourishing one another, ye shall attain to the highest good. (III.11)

Set an Ideal Example to Others

  • Whatsoever a great man does, that other men also do; whatever he sets up as the standard, that the world follows. (III.21)

Do Not Disturb the Faith of Others

  • Let no wise one unsettle the mind of ignorant people who are attached to action; he should engage them in all actions, himself fulfilling them with devotion. (III.26)

You Are Not the Doer of Deeds, But Nature Is the Real Doer

  • All actions are wrought in all cases by the qualities of Nature only. He whose mind is deluded by egoism thinks, "I am the doer." (II.27)

Offer Your Performances As a Dedication to God

  • Renouncing all actions in Me, with the mind centred in the Self, free from expectation and egoism and (mental) agony, do thou fight. (III.30)

Doing One's Own Duty Is Better than Dabbling in Others', for Which One Is Not Meant

  • Better is one's own duty, though devoid of merit, than the duty of another well discharged. Better is death in one's own duty; the duty of another is fraught with fear. (III.35)

Selfish Impulses Can Be Overcome by Resort to the Supreme Being

  • Knowing That which is superior to the intellect, and restraining the self by the Self, slay thou, O mighty-armed, the enemy in the form of desire, hard to conquer. (III.43)

Selfish Impulses Can Be Overcome by Resort to the Supreme Being

  • Whenever there is decline of righteousness, O Arjuna, and rise of unrighteousness, then I manifest Myself. (IV.7)
  • For the protection of the good, for the destruction of the wicked, and for the establishment of righteousness, I manifest Myself in every age. (IV.8)

All Action Is, in Fact, God Working

  • Brahman is the oblation; Brahman is the melted butter; by Brahman is the oblation poured into the fire of Brahman; Brahman verily shall be reached by him who always beholds Brahman in action. (IV.24)

Sankhya and Yoga

  • He who has renounced the sense of doership by means of Yoga, who has destroyed all doubts by knowledge, who is established in the Self, him actions do not bind, O Dhananjaya. (IV.41)
  • Children, not wise ones, regard Sankhya and Yoga as different from each other; (in fact) one who is established in one obtains the results of both. (V.4)
  • Without Yoga (of non-attachment) establishment in Sannyasa (relinquishment of action) is hard to attain; the sage established in Yoga quickly reaches Brahman. (V.6)
  • One who is harmonised in Yoga, of purified self, self-controlled, of subdued senses, whose self has become the Self of all beings, although acting, is not tainted (or affected in any way). (V.7)
  • With understanding fixed in That, self-absorbed in That, rooted (entirely) in That, seeking That alone - they go whence there is no return (to mortal life), having cleansed themselves with wisdom (of Truth). (V.17)
  • Shutting off all external contacts (through the senses), with gaze fixed between the eyebrows, equalising the ingoing and outgoing breaths within the nostrils,With senses, mind and intellect firmly restrained, the sage, intent on the final liberation alone, casting off all impulses of desire, fear and anger, is, verily, liberated at all times. (V.27, 28)
  • Knowing Me as the enjoyer of the fruits of all sacrifices and austerities, the Mighty Lord of all the worlds, Friend of all beings, one attains to Peace. (V.29)