na buddhibhedam janayedajnyaanaam karmasanginaam |
joshayetsarvakarmaani vidvaanyuktaha samacharan || 26 ||

No wise individual should create confusion in the minds of ignorant people who are attached to action. He should engage them in all actions, himself performing them diligently.

na : not to
buddhi : mind
bhedam : confusion
janayet : create
ajnyaanaam : ignorant people
karmasanginaam : attached to action
joshayet : engage
sarvakarmaani : all actions
vidvaan : wise individual
yuktaha : alert
samacharan : diligently act

In the previous shloka, Shri Krishna asked Arjuna to follow a “live and let live” approach towards other people in this world who have not yet realized the extent of their attachments. In this shloka, Shri Krishna provides the reason behind that statement. We shall first look at an example in this regard.

Consider a car going at a fast speed on a major highway. Other cars on the highway are going equally as fast. The car contains a driver and one passenger who have divided the responsibilities equally : the driver is in charge of driving, and the passenger is in charge of navigation and directions. The passenger keeps the driver informed of where to turn, how much time is left before the next food break and so on.

Now in the middle of the journey, the passenger realizes that they are on the wrong highway. What is the best course of action for the passenger? If he says to the driver “Stop! We have to turn back!” it could unsettle the driver and potentially cause a major accident on the highway. Instead he choses to gently inform the driver to take the next exit, stop for a few minutes in a safe area, and then figure out how to get back on the proper highway.

Similarly, when working with other people, the practitioner of karmayoga should continue to perform actions diligently instead of preaching to others about karmayoga, in other words, change their way of doing action. There will always be a tendency to misinterpret the message of karmayoga if we begin preaching it to others. As evidence, note that even Arjuna had incorrectly assumed that one should give up actions altogether.

Therefore, this shloka advises us to act diligently, and let others act to the best of their ability, and not to unsettle them in any way.

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