niyatam sangarahitamaraagadveshataha kritam |
aphalaprepsunaa karma yattatsaattvikamuchyate || 23 ||

 
That action prescribed by scripture which is performed without attachment, without like or dislike, by one without hankering for reward, that is said to be saattvic.
 
niyatam : prescribed by scripture
sangarahitam : without attachment
araagadveshataha : without like or dislike
kritam : performed
aphalaprepsunaa : one without hankering for reward
karma : action
yat : that which
tat : that
saattvikam : saattvic
uchyate : is said
 
We came across three types of knowledge or world-view in the prior three shlokas. Now we come to the topic of the karma, the action itself. Knowledge is the main instigator of any action. So if the knowledge is saattvic, the action will be saattvic and so on. A simple way to differentiate between the three types of knowledge is the gauge the severity of the likes and dislikes, the raaga and dvesha, that the knowledge creates. When we only see unity and harmony, without any likes or dislikes, that is saattvic knowledge. When we have strong likes or dislikes for this object or that person or that situation, it is raajasic knowledge. When we have a extreme or perverted like or dislike, it is taamasic knowledge.
 
Imagine that you are a guest at a friend’s house. A group of young children are playing a game of monopoly that they ask you to join. Some children want you to win, since you are in their team. The other team wants you to lose. At the conclusion of the game, you end up losing all your monopoly money. But you do not harbour any feelings of resentment or anger towards the children. Why does this happen? You have no attachment to the monopoly game, the money or property that you have acquired, since you know that it is not real.
 
Shri Krishna says that any action performed without attachment, without like or dislike towards any part or character in the action, without hankering for the reward of the action, such an action is a sattvic action. In other words, while commencing the action, our intent and our state of mind is saattvic. We will only be able to perform such an action if we have reduced our likes and dislikes towards material objects to a great extent. This happens only if we see the world as illusory and ephemeral, either through seeing everything as Ishvara’s Prakriti or through meditation upon the hollowness of Maaya.

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