श्रेयान्स्वधर्मो विगुणः परधर्मात्स्वनुष्ठितात् | स्वभावनियतं कर्म कुर्वन्नाप्नोति किल्बिषम् ||१८-४७||
śreyānsvadharmo viguṇaḥ paradharmātsvanuṣṭhitāt . svabhāvaniyataṃ karma kurvannāpnoti kilbiṣam ||18-47||
18.47. Better is one’s own prescribed duties, [born of one’s nature, even though] it is devoid of ality, than another’s duty well executed; the doer of duty, dependent on (or prescribed according to) one’s own nature, does not incur sin.
Shri Purohit Swami
18.47 It is better to do one’s own duty, however defective it may be, than to follow the duty of another, however well one may perform it. He who does his duty as his own nature reveals it, never sins.
Sri Abhinav Gupta
18.47 See Comment under 18.60
18.47 One’s proper Dharma is that which is suitable for performance by oneself, in the form of worshipping Myself, relinishing agency etc., as has been taught. For, Karma Yoga, consisting in the activities of sense organs, is easy to perform by one in association with Prakrti. Thus, Karma Yoga, even if it is defective in some respects, is better than the Dharma of another, i.e., than Jnana-yoga, even for a person capable of controlling his senses, which is an attainment liable to negligence, because it consists of control over all sense-organs; for, though this may be well performed occasionaly, one is always liable to deflection from it.
He explains the same:
As Karma consists of the activities of the sense-organs, it is ordained by Nature for one who is conjoined with Prakrti, i.e., the body. So by performing Karma Yoga one does not incur any stain. But Jnana Yoga is liable to negligence, because it reires the control of the senses from the very beginning for its performance. One intent on it is likely to incur stain from negligence. [Thus we are reminded about what was mentioned in the third chapter - that Karma Yoga alone is greater.]
18.47 Svadharmah, one’s own duty; though vigunah, defective-the word though has to be supplied-; is sreyan, superior to, more praiseworthy than; paradharmat, another’s duty; su-anusthitat, well performed. Kurvan, by performing; karma, a duty; svabhavaniyatam, as dictated by one’s own nature-this phrase means the same as svabhavajam (born from Nature) which has been stated earlier-; na apnoti, one does not incur; kilbisam, sin. As poison is not harmful to a worm born it it, so one does not incur sin by performing a duty dictated by one’s own nature. It has been siad that, as in the case of a worm born in poison, a person does not incur sin while performing his duties which have been dictated by his own nature; and that someone else’s duty is fraught with fear; also that, one who does not have the knoweldge of the Self, (he) surely cannot remain even for a moment without doing work (cf. 3.5). Hence-
18.47 Better is one’s own duty, though ill done, than the duty of another, though well-performed৷৷৷৷৷৷ When one does the duty ordained by his own nature, he incurs no stain.
18.47 One’s own duty, (though) defective, is superior to another’s duty well performed. By performing a duty as dictated by one’s own nature, one does not incur sin.
18.47 Better is one’s own duty (though) destitute of merits, than the duty of another well performed. He who does the duty ordained by his own nature incurs no sin.
18.47 श्रेयान् better? स्वधर्मः ones own duty? विगुणः (though) destitute of merits? परधर्मात् that the duty of another? स्वनुष्ठितात् (than) well performed? स्वभावनियतम् ordained by his own nature? कर्म action? कुर्वन् doing? न not? आप्नोति (he) incurs? किल्बिषम् sin.Commentary Just as a poisonous substance does not harm the worm born in that substance? so he who does his Svadharma (the duty ordained according to his own nature) does not incur any sin.What is poison to the whole world is sweet to a worm and yet sugarcane juice that is sweet causes its death. So a mans appointed duty which frees him from bondage must? therefore? be practised however difficult it may seem to be. If you try to do the duty of another it will bring,danger. He who has no knowledge of the Self cannot remain even for a moment without doing action. (Cf.III.35)