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Dedication & Perfection: A Guide to Your Ideal Work

New sloka, multiple interpretations with lots of new learnings. Yet another series of slokas in Bhagavad Gita and Motivation

स्वे स्वे कर्मण्यभिरत: संसिद्धिं लभते नर स्वकर्मनिरत: सिद्धिं यथा विन्दति तच्छृणु - Bhagavad Gita 18.45

sve sve karmaṇy abhirataḥ saṁsiddhiṁ labhate naraḥ sva-karma-nirataḥ siddhiṁ yathā vindati tac chṛṇu

Translation – Every man attains perfection and success by devoting to prescribed duty. Listen to me to know how perfection can be attained.

It is a simple sloka with simple words, but interpretations are many. The word sva-karma means ‘one’s own duties’ and can be given multiple elucidations.

Many translations of the above sloka explains sva-karma as ‘duties as per individual's varnashrama dharma'. Many experts opine that ‘people who undertake their duties as per their (varnashrma) dharma with devotion can attain success and perfection’.

Dedication & Perfection: A Guide to Your Ideal Work

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Commitment to Work

‘svakarma’ means duties expected from someone and not necessarily ‘duties assigned by birth’. Anyone who understands their commitments and discharging duties expected from them with commitment can be said to be performing ‘sva-karma’. Sva-dharma can include commitments to the organization, to the society, to the family and not to forget commitment for self-development. ‘Man is a social animal’ and everyone need to understand their multidimensional commitments and need to engage actively in fulfilling their commitments.

Svakarma can also mean work as per your qualities and abilities. Svakarma is a work in which you have competence as well as interest, work which essentially is your ikigai.

Lord Krishna leaves the interpretation flexible but is clear that one must understand their commitments and engage in their duties with dedication and passion so that the work will result in perfection.

As Lord Krishna indicated there are some more aspects to this commitment to work and perfection in work and let us see some of them:

श्रेयान्स्वधर्मो विगुण: परधर्मात्स्वनुष्ठितात् । स्वभावनियतं कर्म कुर्वन्नाप्नोति किल्बिषम् - Bhagavad Gita 18.47

śreyān sva-dharmo viguṇaḥ para-dharmāt sv-anuṣṭhitāt svabhāva-niyataṁ karma kurvan nāpnoti kilbiṣam

Translation - It is better to do one’s own work even if it is done imperfectly, than to do another’s duty perfectly. By doing one’s innate duties, a person does not incur sin.

This will look like a wrong advice on the face of it but has innate meanings. When we do our sva-dharma, duties as per our nature and abilities essentially work in which we have interest, there is a two-fold advantage. It is in tune with our disposition. Hence, it is as natural to our personality as flying is to a bird and swimming is to a fish. Secondly, since it is comfortable to the mind, it can almost be done involuntarily, and the consciousness becomes free to be engaged in devotion.

Instead, if we abandon our duties thinking them to be undesirable, and take up another’s duties unsuitable for our nature, we struggle against the innate inclination of our personality.

Essentially, take up work such that you can be passionate about your work. No point taking up work for the sake of compulsions and/or monetary considerations.

No work is mean work. Dedication does not come from the power and the monetary considerations but by the nature of the work and your natural abilities to do that work.

This is one of the concepts in Ikigai and we have seen Ikigai earlier. However, I shall reintroduce Ikigai briefly in the next blog.

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Priyanshu Ranjan
  • 2024-01-06 00:32:40
Delving into Bhagavad Gita's t...

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