Bhagavad Gita - International Gita Society
Bhagavad Gita - International Gita Society
 
Bhagavad Gita For Children


 Bhagavad Gita for Children - Chapter 3

Bhagavad Gita for Children
 
Bhagavad Gita For Children - Chapter 3

KARMA-YOGA, THE PATH OF DUTY

Jai: Why do we have to control our desires, Grandma?

Grandma: When you choose wrong behavior for sense enjoyment, you also choose its results. That is why work has to be done for the welfare of all and not just to satisfy your desires or for personal gain. One who practices KarmaYoga is called a KarmaYogi. A KarmaYogi finds the right way to serve and turns her or his work into worship. In KarmaYoga, no work is more important or less important than other work.

Jai: Uncle Hari left his family and home and went to an Ashram last year to find God. Do we have to leave home to seek God?

Grandma: No, we do not. In the Gita, Lord Krishna has given us different paths to God-realization. The path you choose depends on your individual nature. In general, there are two types of people in the world: the inward (or studious, introvert) type and the outward or active type. For the introvert like Uncle Hari, the path of spiritual knowledge is best. Followers of this path go to a spiritual master or a guru where they study Vedic scriptures under proper guidance. In this path, we learn who we are and how we can lead a happy and peaceful life.

Jai: Do we have to read all the scriptures to understand and find God?

Grandma: There are many scriptures in our religion, such as the 4 Vedas, 108 Upanishads, 18 Puranas, Ramayanas, Mahabharata, various Sutras and many others. Reading all of them would be a difficult task. But Lord Krishna has given us everything we need to know about God in the Gita. The Gita has the essence of all the Vedas and Upanishads for the modern time.

Jai: Uncle Puri is a farmer and has no interest in studying the Gita. He says the Gita is difficult and not for common people like him. So how can Uncle Puri realize God?

Grandma: Uncle Puri should follow the second path, the path of KarmaYoga that is described in this chapter of the Gita. This is the path of duty or selfless service. This path is better for most people who work hard to support a family and have no time or interest to read scriptures. Followers of this path do not have to leave work and go to an Ashram. They give up selfish motives and do all work for the greater good of society, instead of just for themselves.

Jai: But people will work harder if they have selfish motives, won’t they, Grandma?

Grandma: It is true that people may earn more if they work for selfish gain, but they will not find permanent peace and happiness. Only those who do their duty selflessly for the good of all people will find real peace and satisfaction.

Jai: If people don’t work for personal gain, will they still do their best and not become lazy?

Grandma: A true KarmaYogi works hard even without personal gain. Only the ignorant work just for personal gain. The world runs smoothly because people do their duty. Parents work hard to support their family, and the children do their part. Nobody can remain inactive or idle all the time. Most people engage in some activity and do what they can. Brahma, the creator, gave his first teaching to humanity when he said: Let all of you progress and prosper by helping each other and by doing your duty properly. (Gita 3.10-11)

Jai: What happens if people work hard just for their own benefit?

Grandma: They commit sin, Jai. It is wrong to perform any action selfishly without considering its effect on others. Lord Krishna calls such a person a thief, useless, and sinful. (Gita 3.12-13) We should never live and work just for ourselves. We should help and serve each other.

Jai: What does a person gain who follows the teaching of Lord Brahma and works for the good of society?

Grandma: Such a person attains peace and success in this life, reaches God, and does not take birth again on this earth.

Here is a true modern story of how selfless service, discussed in Chapter 3, works wonders in life.

3. Sir Alexander Fleming

A poor Scottish farmer one day, while trying to make a living for his family, heard a cry for help coming from a nearby swamp. He dropped his tools and ran to the bog. There, sunk to his waist in the swamp, was a terrified boy, screaming and struggling to free himself. Farmer Fleming saved the lad from what could have been a slow and terrifying death.

The next day, a fancy carriage pulled up to the Scotsman's simple home. A well dressed nobleman stepped out and introduced himself as the father of the boy that Farmer Fleming had saved.

"I want to thank and repay you," said the nobleman. "You saved my son's life."

"I can't accept payment for what I did," the Scottish farmer replied, rejecting the offer.

At that moment, the farmer's own son came to the door of the family hovel.

"Is that your son?" the nobleman asked.

"Yes," the farmer replied proudly.

"I'll make you a deal. Let me provide him with the level of education my own son will enjoy. If the lad is anything like his father, he'll no doubt grow to be a man we both will be proud of."

And that he did. Farmer Fleming's son attended the very best schools and in time graduated from St. Mary's Hospital Medical School in London and went on to become known throughout the world as the noted Sir Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of Penicillin.

Years afterward, the same nobleman's son who was saved from the swamp was stricken with pneumonia. What saved his life this time? Penicillin.

The name of the nobleman? Lord Randolph Churchill.

His son's name? The famous Sir Winston Churchill.

Someone once said: What goes around comes around. This is the universal law of Karma, the law of cause and effect. Help fulfill someone’s dream, and your dream shall be fulfilled too by the Lord!

Jai: Please give me more examples of true KarmaYogis, Grandma.

Grandma: You have read the story of Ramayana. Lord Rama’s father-in-law was Janaka, the King of Janakapur. He attained God by serving his people as his own children, selflessly and without attachment to the results of his action. He did his duty as worship of God. Work done without any selfish motive, as a matter of duty, becomes worship of God because it helps God run the world.

Mahatma Gandhi was a true KarmaYogi, who worked selflessly all his life without any personal motive, just for the good of society. He set an example for other world leaders to follow. There are many other examples of selfless persons.

Jai: Is that how our leaders should work?

Grandma: Yes, a true KarmaYogi shows by personal example how to lead a selfless life and attain God by following the path of KarmaYoga. (Gita 3.21)

Jai: If I want to become a KarmaYogi, what do I have to do?

Grandma: KarmaYoga requires doing our duty in life the best we can, unselfishly, without attachment to the results of our work. A KarmaYogi remains calm in both success and failure and has no likes or dislikes for any person, place, object, or work. Work done as selfless service for the welfare of humanity produces no good or bad Karmic bondage and leads one to God.

Jai: It would be hard to work without wanting to gain something personally from it. How do we do this, Grandma?

Grandma: Spiritually ignorant persons work just for themselves. The wise work for the welfare of all. The ignorant work to enjoy the result of their labor and become attached to it because they think they are the doer. They do not realize that all work is done by the power supplied to us by God. With the power to do our duty and the intellect to choose between right and wrong action, we become responsible for our actions. People act wrongly because they don’t use their intellect and don’t think of the results of their action on others.

The wise offer all their work to God with no selfish desire of their own. The ignorant work only to fulfill their personal desires. (Gita 3.25)

Jai: Can a common person like me do what great people like King Janaka and Mahatma Gandhi have done?

Grandma: With a little effort, anybody can follow the path of KarmaYoga. Think of whatever work you are doing as your gift to society. If you are a student, your duty is to attend school, do your homework, respect your parents, teachers, other elders, and help your brothers, sisters, friends, and classmates. In student life, prepare yourself to be a good, productive citizen by getting a good education.

Jai: What kind of work should I do when I graduate, Grandma?

Grandma: Choose the work that you like and can do well. The work should be suited to your nature. (Gita 3.35, 18.47) If you choose work for which you don’t have a natural skill or attraction, your chances of success are limited. You know what you can do best. Trying to be someone you’re not is the greatest cause of failure and unhappiness.

Jai: But shouldn’t I try to find good work, like engineering, teaching, or government service?

Grandma: There is no such thing as good or bad work. All types of workers are needed to keep society running. Some work pays more than others, but higher paying jobs are usually more difficult and stressful if you are not qualified for them. If you are qualified for a lower paying job, lead a simple life and avoid unnecessary items. A simple life means not desiring too many material things. Limit yourself to the basic needs of life. Keep your desires under control. Lord Buddha said: Selfish desire is the cause of all evils and misery.

Jai: Is selfish desire the reason why people do bad things?

Grandma: Yes Jai, our selfish desire for enjoyment is the cause of all evils. If we don’t control our desires, our desires will control us, and we will become the victims of our own desires. Control your wants because whatever you want, wants you also!

Jai: Then are all desires bad?

Grandma: No, all desires are not bad. The desire to serve others is a noble desire. The desire to enjoy pleasures is bad because it leads to sinful and illegal activities. Always remember that desire never ends after you get what you want. It just leads to new desires and creates greed. And if you don’t get what you want, you feel angry. People do bad things when they are angry.

Jai: How can we control our desire for pleasures?

Grandma: One way is by the knowledge given in the Gita and by the power of thinking. Before you act from desire, always think first of the results of that action. Desires start in the mind and stay there. You can control your mind by intellect and reasoning.

When you are young, your mind becomes dirty just as the clear water of a pond becomes muddy during the rainy season. If your intellect doesn’t control your mind, your mind will run towards sense pleasures. This will keep you from achieving the higher goals of life. So set a high goal in life to keep your mind from getting dirty by sensual pleasures like smoking, alcohol, drugs, and other bad habits. Bad habits are very hard to get rid of, so avoid them to start with. Always keep good company, read good books, avoid bad people, and think of the long-term result of your actions.

Jai: Since we know right from wrong, Grandma, why can’t we just avoid doing wrong?

Grandma: If we don’t control our mind, it will try to weaken our will and take us for a ride to the wrong road of sensual pleasures. We have to watch our mind and keep it on track.

Chapter 3 Summary: Lord Krishna mentioned two major paths to peace and happiness in life. The path chosen depends on the individual. It is easy for most people to follow the path of KarmaYoga, the path of selfless service. To help each other is the first teaching of the creator. This keeps society going and progressing. We should all do our duty to the best of our ability. Choose the career best suited to your nature. No job is small. It’s not what you do, but how you do it that is important. Finally, Lord Krishna tells us we must control our desire for pleasures. Uncontrolled desires for pleasure lead us to failure and suffering in life. We must think about the results of an action before taking it up. Avoid bad company at all costs.

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