I have a question regarding shloka 4.14 from the Bhagavad Geeta:

There is no work that affects Me; nor do I aspire for the fruits of action. One who understands this truth about Me also does not become entangled in fruitive reactions of work.

Somehow I have a feeling that this shloka has a much more profound meaning than is exposed in Praphupada's interpretation.

Since I am a physicist I try to think of Krishna as a transcendental being. For example in 6.30:

For one who sees me everywhere and sees everything in Me, I am never lost, nor is he ever lost to me.

I can understand this shloka in the sense that when one has achieved a certain degree of consciousness one has a feeling that one is surrounded by god all the time and he manifests as different people, events, etc as if by intended chance. I have that feeling many times.

But I can't quite make sense of 4.14: "There is no work that affects Me; nor do I aspire for the fruits of action. One who understands this truth about Me also does not become entangled in fruitive reactions of work."

How can no work affect Krishna if everything is in Him and He is in everything? I think this is related to the first shloka in Purusha Suktam: "Athyathisthaddusangulam". But somehow I feel it has a more profound meaning... Does it mean that Krishna is an end in itself (Himself)?


2 Answers 2


A similar idea is conveyed by Sri Krishna in Chapter 9. In Chapter 9, Sri Krishna says (Swami Nikhilananda translator):

  1. By Me in My unmanifested form, are all things in this universe pervaded. All beings exist in Me, but I do not exist in them.

  2. And yet the beings do not dwell in Me--behold, that is My divine mystery. My Spirit, which is the support of all beings and the source of all things, does not dwell in them.

And Verse 4.14 in Swami Gambhirananda's translation says:

Actions do not taint Me; for Me there is no hankering for the results of actions. One who knows Me thus, does no become bound by actions.

And Sankara's commentary on this verse:

Because of the absence of egoism, those karmani, actions; na limpanti, do not taint; mam, Me; by becoming the originators of body, etc. And me, for Me; na sprha, there is no hankering for the results of those actions. But in the case of transmigration beings, who have self-identification in the form, 'I am the agent', and thirst for actions as also for their results, it is reasonable that actions should taint them. Owing to the absence of these, actions do not taint Me. Anyone else, too, yah, who; abhijanati, knows; mam, Me; iti, thus; as his own Self, and (knows), 'I am not the agent; I have no hankering for the results of actions'; sah, he; na badhyate, does not become bound; karmaabhih, by actions. In his case also actions cease to be the originators of body etc. This is the import.

Sri Krishna in the Gita when referring to Himself, is - according to Advaitists - referring to the Unmanifested Supreme Brahman. As you can see from the verses from Chapter 9, He pervades all and exists in all, but all do not exist in Him. Like the air carries a scent but is unaffected by the scent, He pervades all, but is unaffected by those actions. The verse you quote is an introduction to one of the very profound verses in the Gita, verse 18 Chapter 4.

  • A somewhat similar meaning is prevalent throughout the Gita. For example, the thirteenth chapter and seventh chapter, as well as the fourteenth chapter state the same thing- it is like the doctrine of maayavada or padmapatramivaambhasa, isnt it?
    – vidyarthi
    Aug 31, 2019 at 12:41

Bhagavad Gita is a moksha sastra and is in 4.14 talking of Karma Yoga when it talks of nishkama or unattached Karma. A person practices Karma Yoga when his work benefits other people and the work is done without caring about the fruits or name, fame, promotion, wealth etc. This type of work is called nishkama karma. The idea behind such nishkama karma is that God dwelling in the other person is giving us a chance to serve God and thus help ourselves. Whether the other person is helped will depend on God. It is hubris to think that one human can help another human. An example of nishkama karma is the Sun. I am posting a poem by Hafiz, the 13th century Persian poet, that captures the essence of Karma Yoga.



All this time

The sun never says to the earth,

"You owe



what happens With a love like that,

It lights the

Whole Sky.

The Gift, Poems of Hafiz, The Great Sufi Master, translated by Daniel Ladinsky.

The sun does not care what man does with the energy of the sun that makes life possible on earth. The sun just keeps on pouring energy. That is how God works. It doesn't matter what field you are in. If you can help even one person without caring about the result of your help then you are doing Karma Yoga.

It is not possible to do karma Yoga in a job setting. You will most likely get fired if you are unattached to the result of your work. Karma Yoga is after all a Yoga and unattached work can only be done as part of divine work.

A householder will find it difficult to do nishkama karma. He will hanker after the fruits of his work. He will certainly lose motivation if he doesn't have the expectation of good things of life. It takes a great deal of effort to do work with passion and yet remain detached from all expectations. Most persons only do karma. Only spiritual seekers try to do karma Yoga. There is no doubt that Karma Yoga is very hard.

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