Karmanye Vadhikaraste, Ma phaleshou kada chana,
Ma Karma Phala Hetur Bhurmatey Sangostva Akarmani
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.