In Chapter 2 Sloka 38 of Bhagavad Gita, it is said that;

Maintain equanimity when faced with happiness and distress, gain and loss, victory and defeat – fight, and in this way you will not incur impiety.

( sukha-duḥkhe same kṛtvā
  lābhālābhau jayājayau
  tato yuddhāya yujyasva
  naivaṁ pāpam avāpsyasi )

My interpretation:

If I do any task with out any feelings then I am not doing sin.

Is my interpretation correct?

If wrong, what is its actual interpretation?

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    You cannot arrive at such impression, because the very idea that you know it is a sin implies that you have the feelings about it.
    – Surya
    Commented Oct 23, 2015 at 17:13
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    Sin is condemning word. IMHO it's karma. You're right if you do any task without attachment then there is no karma. This is karma yoga. Simple as that. However it may get complicated because as @Surya has rightly said, if you think 'Ok I am doing this task without any feelings, therefore I am not doing a sin', you are being attached not to sin. Therefore that attachment creates karma. That is why Sri Krishna says 'offer all your results to Me' which is another way of saying the same thing, but this time you are not having any attachment to sin, you are simply offering all to God. All the best.
    – Sai
    Commented Oct 23, 2015 at 22:36
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    Krishna also says throughout the gita that if you do any task with full feeling of devotion for Him, then that is also not sin. So should we aim to have no feelings or be full of feeling for Krishna?
    – user3547
    Commented Oct 23, 2015 at 23:27
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    @hanugm: I think there is a difference between doing any task without any feeling and doing task that come in your way without any feeling. In the first case, you are selecting a task on your own, so there is feeling in the selection itself. In the second case, you will not choose any task on your own, but tasks will come in your way according to your PRARABHA, and you will attend to them without any feeling. I have quoted an excerpt below. Hope that will help you Commented Oct 24, 2015 at 2:09

4 Answers 4


The following is the excerpt from Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi. Hope this will help you.

Mr. Rangachari, a Telugu Pandit in Voorhees’ College at Vellore, asked about nishkama karma. There was no reply.

After a time Sri Bhagavan went up the hill and a few followed him, including the pandit. There was a thorny stick lying on the way which Sri Bhagavan picked up; he sat down and began leisurely to work at it. The thorns were cut off, the knots were made smooth, the whole stick was polished with a rough leaf.

The whole operation took about six hours. Everyone was wondering at the fine appearance of the stick made of a spiky material.

A shepherd boy put in his appearance on the way as the group moved off. He had lost his stick and was at a loss. Sri Bhagavan immediately gave the new one in his hand to the boy and passed on.

The pandit said that this was the matter-of-fact answer to his question.


That shloka in the Gita is basically stating the idea behind nishkama karma. Usually worldly people do any work hoping for promotion, name, fame or fortune. He calculates what he would gain from doing that work. That would not be nishkama karma. An example of nishkama karma is the digvijaya of Adi Shankara. He spread the message of Vedanta all over India without asking for anything in return. He did it because that is the right thing to do. Similarly Arjuna is being asked to fight against Kaurava oppression without wanting anything. He will have to fight because that is the right thing to do not because he wants to take over the Kaurava kingdom.

This is of course an extremely difficult thing to do.


I don't think the idea is to avoid feeling or not feel. I think the key is not to get trapped in the feeling. Equanimity does note mean the absence of feeling, but rather balance through feelings. So if you feel some loss, it is okay to feel bad or down. But if you stop going to work because you cannot get over the loss, I think that is where the problem arises. The same is true about good fortune. If you win a lot of money, you can be happy. But if you become so enamored of your money that you can no longer take out the garbage or wash your own dishes, then that is probably the issue.


You cited the shloka which talks about what you have to do when faced with some events and you draw a conclusion about how you should do things. This is illogical.

This shloka talks about how you should respond to "happy" and "unhappy" events in your life. This may or may not be obvious right from the text.

Doing so is extremely hard for the mind not focused on the relationships with true God. Because while it's common sense to be calm when faced "unhappy" events, it's absolutely not common sense to be calm when faced "happy" events. Both of those types of events are hindrances on path of bhakti-yoga, as everything in material world around us is illusionary and fleeting.

Can't give you a citation with explanation, because there's nothing else to say in the scriptures (and actually this condition, called dhira, is described through the whole of Bhagavad gita, especially in chapter 12), and all explanations I know about are from various acharyas, which I'll not give here to not ignite holywar.

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