न कर्मणामनारम्भान्नैष्कर्म्यं पुरुषोऽश्नुते |
न च संन्यसनादेव सिद्धिं समधिगच्छति ||३-४||


na karmaṇāmanārambhānnaiṣkarmyaṃ puruṣo.aśnute .
na ca saṃnyasanādeva siddhiṃ samadhigacchati ||3-4||



3.4. A person attains actionlessness not [just] by non-commencement of actions; and not just by renunciation, he attains success (emancipation).

Shri Purohit Swami

3.4 No man can attain freedom from activity by refraining from action; nor can he reach perfection by merely refusing to act.

Sri Abhinav Gupta

3.4 See Comment under 3.5

Sri Ramanuja

3.4 Not by non-performance of the acts prescribed by the scriptures, does a person attain freedom from Karma, i.e., Jnana Yoga; nor by ceasing to perform such actions as are prescribed in the scriptures and are already begun by him. For, success is achieved by actions done without attachment to the fruits and by way of worshipping the Supreme Person. Hence devoid of it (Karma-nistha), one does not achieve Jnana-nistha. By those persons who have not worshipped Govinda by acts done without attachment to fruits and whose beginningless and endless accumulation of evil has not been annulled thery, constant contemplation on the self is not possible. It can be done only if it is preceded by the attainment of a state in which the operation of the senses have been freed from disturbance.

This view is put forward by the Lord:

Sri Shankaracharya

3.4 Purusah, a person; na does not; asnute, attain; naiskarmyam, freedom from action, the state of being free from action, steadfastness in the Yoga of Knowledge, i.e. the state of abiding in one’s own Self which is free from action; anarambhat, by abstaining; karmanam, from actions-by the non-performance of actions such as sacrifices etc. which are or were performed in the present or past lives, which are the causes of the purification of the mind by way of attenuating the sins incurred, and which, by being the cause of that (purification), become the source of steadfastness in Knowledge through the generation of Knowledge, as stated in the Smrti (text), ‘Knowledge arises in a person from the attenuation of sinful acts’ [the whole verse is: Jnanam utpadyate pumsamksayatpapasya karmanah; Yathadarsatalaprakhye pasyatyatmanamatmani. ‘Knowledge arises৷৷.acts. One sees the Self in oneself as does one (see oneself) in a cleaned surface of a mirror’.-Tr.] (Mbh. Sa. 204.8). This is the import. From the statement that one does not attain freedom from action by abstaining from actions, it may be concluded that one attains freedom from action by following the opposite course of performing actions. What, again, is the reason that one does not attain freedom from action by abstaining from actions? The answer is: Because performing actions is itself a means to freedom from action. Indeed, there can be no attainment of an end without (its) means. And Karma-yoga is the means to the Yoga of Knowledge characterized by freedom from action, because it has been so established in the Upanisads and here as well. As for the Upanisads, it has been shown in the texts, ‘The Brahmanas seek to know It through the study of the Vedas, sacrifices, (charity, and austerity consisting in a dispassionate enjoyment of sense-objects)’ (Br. 4.4.22), etc. whch deal with the means of realizing the goal of Knowledge under discussion, viz the Realm of the Self, that the Yoga of Karma is a means to the Yoga of Knowledge . And even here (in the Gita), the Lord will established that, ‘But, O mighty-armed one, renunciation is hard to attain without (Karma-)yoga’ (5.6); ‘By giving up attachment, the yogis undertake work৷৷.for the purification of themselves’ (5.11); ‘Sacrifice, charity and austerity are verily the purifiers of the wise’ (18.5), etc. Objection: Is it not that in such texts as-‘Extending to all creatures immunity from fear’ (Na. Par. 5.43), (one should take recourse to freedom from action)-, it is shown that attainment of freedom from action follows even from the renunciation of obligatory duties? And in the world, too, it is a better known fact that freedom from action follows abstention from actions. Hence also arises the estion, ‘Why should one who desires freedom from action undertake action?’ Reply: Therefore the Lord said: Na ca, nor; samadhi-gacchati, does he attain; siddhim, fulfilment steadfastness in the Yoga of Knowledge, characterized by freedom from action; sannyasanat eva, merely through renunciation-even from the mere renunciation of actions which is devoid of Knowledge. What, again, is the reason that by the mere giving up of actions which is not accompanied with Knowledge, a person does not attain fulfulment in the form of freedom from actions? To this ery seeking to know the cause, the Lord says:

Swami Adidevananda

3.4 No man experiences freedom from activity (Naiskarmya) by abstaining from works; and no man ever attains success by mere renunciation of works.

Swami Gambirananda

3.4 A person does not attain freedom from action by abstaining from action; nor does he attain fulfilment merely through renunciation.

Swami Sivananda

3.4 Not by non-performance of actions does man reach actionlessness; nor by mere renunciation does he attain to perfection.


Swami Sivananda

3.4 न not? कर्मणाम् of actions? अनारम्भात् from nonperformance? नैष्कर्म्यम् actionlessness? पुरुषः man? अश्नुते reaches? न not? च and? संन्यसनात् from renunciation? एव only? सिद्धिम् perfection? समधिगच्छति attains.Commentary Actionlessness (Naishkarmyam) and perfection (Siddhi) are synonymous. The sage who has attained to perfection or reached the state of actionlessness rests in his own essential nature as ExistenceKnowledgeBliss Absolute (Satchidananda Svarupa). He has neither necessity nor desire for action as a means to an end. He has perfect satisfaction in the Self.One attains to the state of actionlessness by gaining the knowledge of the Self. If a man simply sits iet by abandoning action you cannot say that he has attained to the state of actionlessness. His mind will be planning? scheming and speculating. Thought is real action. The sage who is free from affirmative thoughts? wishes? and likes and dislikes? who has the knowledge of the Self can be said to have attained to the state of actionlessness.No one can reach perfection or freedom from action or knowledge of the Self by mere renunciation or by simply giving up activities without possessing the knowledge of the Self. (Cf.XVIII.49).