Shree Bhagavaan uvaacha:
sannyaasah karmayogashcha nihshreyasakaraavubhau |
tayostu karmasannyaasaatkarmayogo vishishyate || 2 ||

Shree Bhagavaan said:
Both renunciation of action and the yoga of action confer ultimate bliss. But, between the two, the yoga of action is superior than renunciation of action.

sannyaasaha : renunciation of action
karmayogashcha : yoga of action
nihshreyasakarau : confer ultimate bliss
ubhau : both
tayoh : between those two
tu : but
karmasannyaasaat : than renunciation of action
karmayogaha : yoga of action
vishishyate : superior

Advice, given by a teacher to a student, takes into account the student’s stage in his learning progression. Shri Krishna, the teacher, replies to Arjuna’s question by saying that for someone with Arjuna’s proclivity, karma yoga or the yoga of action is a better path than karma sannyaasa or the renunciation of action.

By making this statement, Shri Krishna reiterates the teaching imparted to Arjuna in the beginning of the third chapter, when Arjuna had asked a similar question. Shri Krishna throughout the Gita has stressed that we can attain self-realization while staying in the world and performing our duties. Like Arjuna, we often get tempted to renounce the world, especially when we are going through a tough time in our life. But as we have seen earlier, if we retreat from the world but have not fully addressed our ego and our selfish desires, we will still be thinking about the material world in the confines of the cave or the ashram we have retreated into.

Therefore, having taken into account Arjuna’s mental make-up, knowing fully well that like us, Arjuna still had a lot of desires, Shri Krishna deemed that karma yoga was the right path for Arjuna, and that he was not well-suited to becoming a monk.

Now, does the follower of karma yoga attain the same result that the follower of renunciation attains? He addressed this point in the upcoming shlokas.