Karmanye Vadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kada Chana

Karmanye Vadhikaraste, Ma phaleshou kada chana,

Ma Karma Phala Hetur Bhurmatey Sangostva Akarmani


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This verse is from the Bhagawad Gita, where Arjuna was not willing to fight the Epic war of Mahabhaarat and Krishna explains to him to perform his duties.

Karmanye Vadhikaraste, Ma phaleshou kada chana – You have the right to perform your actions, but you are not entitled to the fruits of the actions.

Ma Karma Phala Hetur Bhurmatey Sangostva Akarmani – Do not let the fruit be the purpose of your actions, and therefore you won’t be attached to not doing your duty.

This message was from the Lord Krishna to Arjuna during the Epic War of Mahabhaarat when Arjun was not willing to fight, given that he had opposite of him, all those persons he considers to be his own. Arjuna says to Krishna,

What’s the use of fighting against my own for just a piece of land. What happiness will I get by slaying my dear ones? The ones on the other sides are my own uncle, my cousin. Won’t I be committing a sin? What will I get by killing all of them. Instead I would have preferred that they kill me here itself.

Then Krishna explains to him about his duties. The above verse, which is among the most famous verse in Mahabhaarat, is part of the explanation he has given.

Let us study the context :

In this case Krishna tells Arjuna that no matter what is the result of the war, he should not be worried about it. His duty is to fight, hence he has to fight. Regardless of whether he wins or loses, or if he even dies during the war, he will attain heaven because he has correctly performed his duty. Such is the way of the universe, wherein each object or component both animate or inanimate has been created for a purpose, to fit a larger scheme , to fill a specific role or space in the universe.

Hence the purpose is important, and the outcome is also predetermined as per the core purpose. In simple terms it means: Keep on performing your duties without being attached to the result of your actions. Forsake do-ership.

I am sure most of us would agree that when we help someone, we don’t do it for the sake of something in return. Whether we are rewarded for our actions or not, is not our primary concern. We just help, voluntarily.

When we help someone without worrying about our own gain, this is selflessness. We don’t evaluate benefit. The significance is that as a human being we have been able to help someone.

Note: In Bhagavad Gita, As It Is, By Swami Prabhupada, the part Ma Karma Phala Hetur Bhur means, never to consider ourselves to be the cause of the result of our activities. This is right too, because when we consider ourselves to be the cause of the result of our actions, we will be tempted to be attached to that result.

Forsake attachment to outcome. Forsake the feeling of being the cause of an action. Today how many of us really believe in this principle? What does this verse means to us today?

There is doctrine that vociferously argues about one lifetime, achievement, man as the sole initiator of action and cause as a rational premeditation. Then there is doctrine such as above, all is predestined.  Cause and effect are cyclical. Action is the great enabler. Karma or action is inevitable, life force depends on karma.

Would love to hear inputs on this from all of my friends.


10 thoughts on “Karmanye Vadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kada Chana

    1. Hi Sharon. Thank You. Yes, I do use Twitter. My blog connects to sharadarao on Twitter automatically. Glad that you enjoy my writing.

  1. It seems that the interpretation is taken wrongly by todays youth. No one likes to perform their duties of their is no goal. I feel that the real meaning shall be – performing your duties is your karma. You are sent on earth to perform your karma or duties. karma is duties and not rights. karma is to be performed without thinking about rights or PHALA. Receiving PHALA or your rights, though being your ultimate goal, are not in your hands. You may receive or not receive your PHALA or your rights or they may be disproportionate to your karma. However one should not stop performing karma as it is his duty. Today people are more worried or aware of their rights or PHALA and have forgot to perform their karma or duties towards society. PHALA will be yours sooner or later if you keep performing your karma. Enjoy performing your karma and your will find the deficit between your expectations and the PHALA your receive slowly reducing. life is karma and death in peace is your PHALA.

  2. कर्म करना तो तुम्हारा अधिकार है, लेकिन उसके फल पर कभी नहीं|
    कर्म को फल की इच्छा से कभी मत करो, तथा तेरा कर्म ना करने में भी कोई आसक्ति न हो|

    1. Hi, My understanding is, everything has been created by HIM, hence nothing anyway belongs to the doer of the Karma. i.e the fruit also belongs to HIM, since he created everything in the first place. On the other aspect, Phala or fruit ( to speak in terms of modern sense, fruit like money, wealth, prosperity ) keeps us drowned in things of material nature and as mentioned in the Gita, it leads to attachment, and subsequently to Lust, Anger, the mind loses control and when the mind is out of control, it gets entangled in worldly matters and we are then unable to concentrate/ focus on the actual Goal, that is to become one with the Divine and free ourselves from the cycle of Birth and Death.

  3. Isnt the saying that “you dont have right on the fruits of your work” a form of exploitation? Imagine a worker who works all through the day and at the end of the day is payed a far less salary than what his work actually requires. At this moment according to Gita he should just accept that and keep on working without complaining. Is not a a clear case of exploitation?

    1. To understand this you need to take a step back. Did you create what you just earned? Who are You? Did you create your own ability to work? The competency you have, the life you are living, each and every moment you enjoy; is all pre-ordained. Then what of work; of the activity; of teh result; and of whether the result or outcome is yours or not? You earn the physical form of outcome of what you physically earned in the physical grosser form of the universe….:) …yes when someone pays you a much lesser amount or gives you a lesser portion of what you rightfully earned he is just not yet reached level of human evolution….he is still at primate level or at even baser level perhaps of even earlier animals that is why he is corrupting others of their rightful share of what they earned…

      1. Thats exactly my point. Such forms of teachings might bring in a level of non resistance which might hinder the growth of a nation. In fact, I believe that this is one of the reasons why we were ruled by the British for so long.
        Again to answer your point of everything being preordained – in that case you are subtly implying that humans do no posses free will.

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