We will take a look on how is KARMA (work as per one’s prescribed duties) defined by Shri Krishna.
Let us look at this verse from the Bhagwad Geeta.
na karmaṇām anārambhān
naiṣkarmyaṁ puruṣo ‘śnute
na ca sannyasanād eva
He tells that by merely abstaining from work, a person cannot achieve freedom from his actions. Everybody has to perform some actions but whether they are good or bad solely depends on the person.
Lord Krishna always tells us to be free from the dualities like gain and loss, victory or failure but a person cannot be free of these dualities simply by giving up his actions and by renunciating his duties but by doing his work by not caring about its result.
He tells that a person can only achieve total freedom from the results of his action only when a person does his work only for the sake of doing it and without considering about it’s results.
There is another verse which explains it further:
na hi kaścit kṣaṇam api
jātu tiṣṭhaty akarma-kṛt
kāryate hy avaśaḥ karma
sarvaḥ prakṛti-jair guṇaiḥ
He explains that no living being can refrain from doing work even for a single moment. Due to the nature of this materialistic world every living being has to perform actions continuously. Every living being has to breathe, drink and eat to survive. These all are nothing but actions. For example a hermit who has renounced his attachments from all the wordly things still has to eat and drink to survive. Therefore even those who are in the path of salvation and to recognise the “absolute truth” have to do work.
Since the soul inside our bodies is ever active therefore it is always in action. Actions are either good or bad therefore we must always perform good actions which lead to salvation.
Let us look at another verse:
karmaṇaiva hi saṁsiddhim
sampaśyan kartum arhasi
In this verse the Lord explains that even King Janaka(father of goddess Sita and father in law of Lord Ram) had realised the effulgence of the supreme lord within himself but still he did work by completing his prescribed duties. He tells that we should do our work for the good of the society as a whole.
He further explains it in another verse:
yad yad ācarati śreṣṭhas
tat tad evetaro janaḥ
sa yat pramāṇaṁ kurute
lokas tad anuvartate
In this verse Lord Krishna explains that the disciples of a leader always look forward to him. In short, they intend to follow their leader. Therefore a leader has great responsibilities over him because all those dependent on him will follow his principles and persona for guiding themselves.
One more verse explains this:
na me pārthāsti kartavyaṁ
triṣu lokeṣu kiñcana
varta eva ca karmaṇi
In this verse he explains that there is no duty that is prescribed for the great lord Shri Krishna. Neither there is anything that he wants nor there is anything left for him to obtain in this universe, yet he is engaged in work.
He further explains the above verse in that given below:
yadi hy ahaṁ na varteyaṁ
jātu karmaṇy atandritaḥ
manuṣyāḥ pārtha sarvaśaḥ
In this verse he explains the reason why is he engaged in action. He tells that if he renunciates all his actions then being the supreme authority, the whole humanity would follow his path and all would give up their actions leading to annihilation of the world. Therefore for the sake of the world he is always active and involved in actions.
Another verse explains this:
utsīdeyur ime lokā
na kuryāṁ karma ced aham
saṅkarasya ca kartā syām
upahanyām imāḥ prajāḥ
This verse supports and continues the above verse wherein he tells how would all the living beings as well as the world annihilate if everyone gives up their action. Therefore the God himself is always indulged in actions so that everyone seeing him also indulge in action and the universe stays in order.
This is how KARMA or the actions prescribed according to one’s duties is described by GOD!