कर्मणो ह्यपि बोद्धव्यं बोद्धव्यं च विकर्मणः |
अकर्मणश्च बोद्धव्यं गहना कर्मणो गतिः ||४-१७||


karmaṇo hyapi boddhavyaṃ boddhavyaṃ ca vikarmaṇaḥ .
akarmaṇaśca boddhavyaṃ gahanā karmaṇo gatiḥ ||4-17||



4.17. Something has got to be understand of [good] action also; and something is to be understood of the wrong action; and something is to be understood of non-action. Difficult is to comprehend the way of action.

Shri Purohit Swami

4.17 It is necessary to consider what is right action, what is wrong action, and what is inaction, for mysterious is the law of action.

Sri Abhinav Gupta

4.16-17 Kim karma etc. Karmanah etc. The classification of [good] action and non-action is difficult to comprehend. That is to say there is bad action even among the action that has been ordained [in the scriptures], just as the animal-slaughter in the [pious] Agnistoma sacrifice. Again, even in the midst of action, that goes against [the scripture], there is auspicious action; for example there is an end for the trouble of the people in the act of killing a murderous animal. Even in the case of non-performance of action, there do exist [both] the auspicious and inauspicious acts; for there will be necessarily [some] acts performed by the sense of speech and by the mind as they are difficult to avoid without wisdom. Therefore on account of its mysterious nature, even hte experts have not properly understood the action as : ‘Prosperity would be for as by this [particular] auspicious action; and emancipation would be for us by that [particular] non-undertaking of [certain] actions’. Therefore, it is the fire of wisdom taught in the seel, that alone is capable of positively burning down the fuel of all the auspicious and inauspicious actions; and hence that is to be sought after as a refuge. This is what is intended by the Bhagavat. In order to calrify the same, [the Lord] says -

Sri Ramanuja

4.17 There is something which ought to be known in regard to action (Karma) which forms the means of attaining release. So also is the case in regard to ‘multi-form or varied forms of action’ (Vikarma). These are what have acired variegation as obligatory, occasional and desire-prompted works reiring numerous reisites. There is also something to be known about non-action, i.e., knowledge of the self. Therefore, deep, i.e., difficult to understand, is the way of action to be pursued by the seeker after release. What should be known as regards multi-form or variegated forms of Karma is that the attribution of differences leading to differences of fruits in obligatory, occasional and desire-prompted rites and acisition of things reired for their performace, etc., must be renounced, realising that the Sastras aim at only one result, i.e., release (and not several results said to accrue from these works). This has been declared in connection with the teaching, ‘The resolute mind is one-pointed’ (2.41) and is not elaborated here.

Sri Krsna explains what must be known in regard to action and non-action.

Sri Shankaracharya

4.17 Hi, for; there is something boddhavyam, to be known; api, even; karmanah, about action enjoined by the scriptures; and there is certainly something to be known vikarmanah, about prohibited action; so, also, there is something to be known akarmanah, about inaction, about sitting ietly. (The words ’there is’ are to be supplied in all the three cases.) Because gatih, the true nature, i.e. the essential nature; karmanah, of action-implying karma etc., viz action, prohibited action and inaction; is gahana, inscrutable, hard to understand. ‘What, again, is the essential nature of action etc. which has to be understood, and about which it was promised, “I shall tell you৷৷.” (16)?’ This is being stated:

Swami Adidevananda

4.17 For, there is what ought to be known in action. Likewise there is what ought to be known in multi-form action. And there is what ought to be understood in non-action. Thus mysterious is the way of action.

Swami Gambirananda

4.17 For there is something to be known even about action, and something to be known about prohibited action; and something has to be known about inaction. The true nature of action is inscrutable.

Swami Sivananda

4.17 For verily (the true nature) of action (enjoined by the scriptures) should be known, also (that) of forbidden (or unlawful) action, and of inaction; hard to understand is the nature (path) of action.


Swami Sivananda

4.17 कर्मणः of action? हि for? अपि also? बोद्धव्यम् should be known? बोद्धव्यम् should be known? च and? विकर्मणः of the forbidden action? अकर्मणः of inaction? च and? बोद्धव्यम् should be known? गहना deep? कर्मणः of action? गतिः the path.No Commentary.