PATH OF DUTY
Jai: Why do we have
to control our desires, Grandma?
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?
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?
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
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?
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?
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?
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
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
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
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
"Is that your son?"
the nobleman asked.
"Yes," the farmer
"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
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
His son's name? The famous Sir Winston
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,
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?
a true KarmaYogi shows by personal example
how to lead a selfless life and attain
God by following the path of KarmaYoga.
Jai: If I want to
become a KarmaYogi, what do I have to
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
Jai: It would be
hard to work without wanting to gain
something personally from it. How do
we do this, Grandma?
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
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?
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?
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?
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
Jai: Then are all
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?
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
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?
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.