न हि कश्चित्क्षणमपि जातु तिष्ठत्यकर्मकृत् |
कार्यते ह्यवशः कर्म सर्वः प्रकृतिजैर्गुणैः ||३-५||


na hi kaścitkṣaṇamapi jātu tiṣṭhatyakarmakṛt .
kāryate hyavaśaḥ karma sarvaḥ prakṛtijairguṇaiḥ ||3-5||



3.5. For, no one can ever remain, even for a moment, as a non-performer of action; because everyone, being not master of himself, is forced to perform action by the Strands born of the Prakrti (Material cause)

Shri Purohit Swami

3.5 He cannot even for a moment remain really inactive, for the Qualities of Nature will compel him to act whether he will or no.

Sri Abhinav Gupta

3.4-5 Na karmanam etc Na hi etc. Knowledge, deserted by action, does not exist; and the action, combined with dexterity does not exist, [if it is] deserted by knowledge. Therefore knowledge and action constitute one and the same thing. Hence it has been delclared :

'Knowledge is not deserted by action and action is
     not deserted by knowledge.  [Hence]  a teacher who
     is well accomplished in knowledge and action, is
     the cutter of the fetters of the fettered'. 

Therefore the action that is included within the knowledge cannot be avoided. For, the body, the organ of speech and the mind are, by nature, in a perpetual motion; and hence an individual, being simply under the control of other than himself, necessarily performs one action or the other. For, the body, the speech-organ and the mind are of the nature of throbing.

Sri Ramanuja

3.5 In this world, no man can rest without doing work; for every person, even though he may have determined, ‘I will not do anything,’ is caused to act, i.e., is compelled to act according to the Gunas born of Prakrti. The Gunas are Sattva, Rajas and Tamas which increase in accordance with his old Karma. Conseently, Jnana Yoga can be attained only by means of a purified inner organ after annulling the old accumulation of sins by means of Karma Yoga of the aforesaid characteristics and bringing Sattva and other Gunas under control.

Otherwise, one who engages oneself in Jnana Yoga becomes a hypocrite:

Sri Shankaracharya

3.5 Hi, because; na kascit, no one; jatu, ever; tisthati, remains; api, even; for so much time as a ksanam, moment; akarma-krt, without doing work. Why? Hi, for; sarvah, all creatures; karyate karma, are made to work; verily avasah, under compulsion; gunaih, by the gunas-sattva (goodness); rajas (activity), and tamas (mental darkness); prakrti-jaih, born of Nature. The word ‘unenlightened’ has to be added to the sentence, since the men of realzation have been spoken of separately in, ‘who is not distracted by the three gunas (alities)’ (14.23). For Karma-yoga is meant only for the unenlightened, nor for the men of Knowledge. Karma-yoga, on the other hand, is not pertinent for the men of Knowledge who, because of their not moving away from their own Self, are not shaken by the gunas. This has been explained similarly in, ‘he who has known this One as indestructible’ (2.21). But, if one who is not a knower of the self does not perform prescribed action, then this is certainly bad. Hence the Lord says:

Swami Adidevananda

3.5 No man can, even for a moment, rest without doing work; for everyone is caused to act, in spite of himself, by the Gunas born of Nature.

Swami Gambirananda

3.5 Because, no one ever remains even for a moment without doing work. For all are made to work under compulsion by the gunas born of Nature.

Swami Sivananda

3.5 Verily none can ever remain for even a moment without performing action; for everyone is made to act helplessly indeed by the alities born of Nature.


Swami Sivananda

3.5 नहि not? कश्चित् anyone? क्षणम् a moment? अपि even? जातु verily? तिष्ठति remains? अकर्मकृत् without performing action? कार्यते is made to do? हि for? अवशः helpless? कर्म action? सर्वः all? प्रकृतिजैः born of Prakriti? गुणैः by the alities.Commentary The Gunas (alities of Nature) are three? viz.? Sattva? Rajas and Tamas. Sattva is harmony or light or purity Rajas is passion or motion Tamas is inertia or darkness. Sattvic actions help a man to attain to Moksha. Rajasic and Tamasic actions bind a man to Samsara.These alities cannot affect a man who has knowledge of the Self. He has crossed over these alities. He has become a Gunatita (one who has transcended the alities of Nature). The ignorant man who has no knowledge of the Self and who is swayed by Avidya or nescience is driven helplessly to action by the Gunas. (Cf.IV.16?XVIII.11).