niraasheeryatachittaatmaa tyaktasarvaparigraha |
shaareeram kevalam karma kurvannaapnoti kilbisham || 21 ||

Without expectation, with a subdued body and mind, giving up all possessions, performing actions only for (maintaining) the body, he does not incur sin.

niraasheehi : without expectation
yatachittaatmaa : subdued body and mind
tyaktasarvaparigraha : given up all possessions
shaareeram : body-related
kevalam : only
karma : actions
kurvan : performing
na aapnoti : does not incur
kilbisham : sin

As we proceed with our project, our mind is racing with thoughts and anxieties about the future – will this happen, will that happen, what will go wrong and so on. But when we enter a peaceful place like a temple or a library, we notice that our thoughts tend to quiet down. This is because the sights, smells and sounds of such places put a fence around our mind and senses, as it were, and cause them to brood over a higher ideal. So Shri Krishna urges us to contemplate upon a higher ideal as much as possible. When that happens, our mind and our body automatically become quiet and subdued.

Now, in the course of the project, we may end up creating certain objects – a huge report, an excel file, a powerpoint presentation, a cutting-edge invention and so on. The wealth generated from the project will enable us to buy a new house, car, TV etc. We may notice that we develop a strong attachment, a strong sense of possessiveness towards these objects. Our ego may get inflated because we think that we created them, or own them. But that attitude makes us slaves of those objects. The reality is that nature produced the raw materials, as well as the knowledge to convert those into these objects. We did not “do” anything.

It has to be noted that there is no need to give up possessions. That is not the meaning here. Our attitude towards our possessions should be like a renter versus an owner. We should take care of possessions but not be bound to them. Slowly, as our possessive thinking diminishes, our actions also reduce. We then care only about our svadharma, and on keeping our mind and body fit for service.

The attitude created by observing this teaching has the effect of reducing the ego notion, which is nothing but the false identification of the eternal essence with the body, mind, intellect and objects.

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