Hari Om and Pranams!
Here's summary of verse 16 and 17.
verse - 16
kim karma kim-akarmeti kavayo-py-atra mohitah
tatte karma pravaksyami yaj-jnatva moksyase-subhat
kim- what, karma-action, kim- what, akarma- inaction, iti - thus, kavayah - sages, api- also, atra- in this, mohitah- ( are) deluded, tat- that, te- to you, karma-actions, pravaksyami- (I) shall teach, yat - which, jnatva-having known, moksyase -(you) shall be liberated, asubhat - from evil.
What is action? What is inaction? As to this, even the "wise" are deluded. Therefore, I shall teach you " action" ( the nature of action and inaction), knowing which, you shall be liberated from the evil ( of Samsara- the wheel of birth and death).
Karmanohyapi Boddhhavyam Boddhhavyam cha vikarmanah
Akarmanascha Boddhhavyam Gahana Karmano Gati
Karmanah – Right actions, api-for verily, Boddhhavyam – should be known, cha – also, vikarmanah – forbidden actions, Akarmanah-Inaction, Boddhhavyam – should be known, cha-also, Gahana – imponderable, Karmano gati – Nature(path) of action.
“For verily (the true nature) of ‘right action’ should be known; also (that) of ‘forbidden( or unlawful)action’ and of ‘inaction’; imponderable is the nature (path) of action.”
Selection for reflection
6 Life means activity. Where activity has ended death has entered. In active life alone can we progress or deteriorate. A stagnant pool of water decays and soon gets putrefied, whereas the flowing water of river ever keeps itself fresh,pure and clean. Life being dynamic, it cannot even for a moment cease to function. Complete cessation from activities is impossible so long as life exists.Activity, therefore, is the very corner stone of life. ( 4.17).
Terms and Definitions
3 Who is a ‘kavi’?
The word ‘kavi’, now a days mainly used for poets was the name for Rsis, the seers of Upanisadic declarations. Any inspired man, recognizing and expressing a truth that was noble and immortal, was called a ‘kavi’. ( 4.16).
4 Differentiate between ‘karma’ and ‘vikarma’.
Constructive activities that contribute towards the evolution of the individual are termed ‘karma’. Karma can be of three kinds: nitya- constant duties, naimittika – special duties on special occasions, and kamya –work purposeful and self-determined for winning a desirable result or reward. Destructive activities( nisiddha) are those that are totally condemned by the sastras, because they tend to de-evolve the individual, and are termed ’vikarma’. (4.17).
Thoughts and Concepts.
15 “What is action? What is inaction? As to this even the ‘wise’ are deluded.” Explain.
‘Action’ commonly means movement of the limbs with relation to things in the outer world, and ‘inaction’ means a state of existence wherein there is total cessation of such vigorous and conscious movements. This is the popular definition of ‘ action’ and ‘ inaction’ which, no doubt, is quite acceptable as far as the everyday activities of life are concerned. But from the philosophical stand point, the concepts and features of both’action’ and ‘inaction’ change.
For purposes of self development, when we consider ‘action’, it is not to be valued merely by observing its manifested qualities, but we must also take into consideration the unmanifested but subtly-working motives behind every action. An action itself cannot be considered either good or bad. It is the motive behind it which determines the quality of the action. Just as the beauty of a fruit is not the last word for its edibility but depends upon its contents, so too a beautiful action in itself could be a poisonous act of criminality if the motive behind it is low and vicious.
Therefore, it is said that in discriminating between what is’action’ and what is ‘ inaction’ ‘even the poet-seers of old are confused’. ( 4.16)