utseedeyurime lokaa na kuryaam karma chedaham |
samkaryasya cha kartaa syaamupahanyaamimaah prajaaha || 24 ||

These people would be ruined if I stopped performing action. I would become the creator of confusion and destroy these beings.

utseedeyuh : ruined
ime : these
lokaah : people
na : not
kuryaam : perform
karma : action
chet : if
aham : I
samkaryasya : confusion
cha : and
kartaa : creator
syaam : I become
upahanyaam : destroy
imaah : these
prajaaha : beings

Shri Krishna further elaborates on the argument put forth in the last shloka. As someone who is has realized the eternal essence, he does not have any obligations towards the world. But even then, he continues to act towards the welfare of society. Here, he says that if he stopped acting, all people who look up to him would be ruined and destroyed. We saw the example of a great social activist like Baba Amte, who although having performed such selfless service, continued to act till his last day. Society would take a huge hit if someone like him abruptly stopped working.

In addition, there is a subtler meaning here. Shri Krishna’s statements have a cosmic significance. So therefore, the word “I” also refers to every law or principle that works every second of our lives and never ever takes a vacation.

For instance, we all know what happens to a society when there is a breakdown of law and order. There will be chaos, confusion and destruction all around. But civil and criminal laws are just man-made laws. Consider what would happen if the law of gravity, a universal law, stopped working. People, buildings, and every free standing object on this earth would start flying out into space to its eventual destruction. And finally, what if our breathing or pumping of the heart stopped working?

Therefore the message to Arjuna is clear. Any task, no matter how insignificant or unpleasant, should be performed selflessly and with dexterity, if it is in the service of the higher good.