kim karma kimakarmeti kavayopatra mohitaaha |
tatte karma pravakshyaami yajnyaatvaa mokshyaseshubhaat || 16 ||

What is action and what is inaction? Seers are deluded in this regard. To you, I will explain that action, by knowing which you will gain liberation from this inauspicious (nature of samsaara).

kim : what is
karma : action
kim : what is
akarma : inaction
iti : this
kavayaha : seers
atra : in this regard
mohitaaha: are deluded
tat : that
te : you
karma : action
pravakshyaami : explain
yat : that which
jnyaatvaa : knowing
mokshyase : gain liberation
ashubhaat : from this inauspicious

As we continue to move forward in the Gita, we comes across milestones where Shri Krishna takes us from one level of understanding to a more advanced level. With this shloka, Shri Krishna alerts us that the upcoming shlokas will give us a much deeper understanding of the topic of karma or action.

Let us recap what we have learned so far about action and inaction. Action or karma as defined by Shri Krishna is any activity performed with a selfish motive. Inaction or akarma is defined as any activity performed in a selfless manner. In other words, with a yajnya spirit. It is important to revise these definitions because Shri Krishna says that even intelligent people very easily get confused by this terminology, since action typically means any activity and inaction means absence of activity.

Why is this topic important? Unless our intellect fully understands and gets the conviction that we can achieve self-realization through performance of action, we will again and again fall prey to the wrong notion that we should renounce everything.

This is evident in our daily lives. Whenever we feel pressure at our job, we start thinking about changing jobs. If we have to resolve a delicate issue impacting our friends or relatives, we may try to defer or avoid it altogether rather than addressing it. We have an inbuilt tendency to avoid performing actions, even though all our bodies can do is perform action. Therefore, Shri Krishna wants us to have a thorough understanding of the nature of action so that it becomes a part of our life, than something that we just read about.