The Bhagavad Gita discusses human nature and behaviour with respect to the philosophical, worldly and spiritual contexts in the life of individuals. The way one thinks and acts becomes crucial in shaping one’s quality of life. In a lecture, Sri Goda Venkateswara Sastrigal drew attention to the Lord’s explanation of the various categories of human activity which come under the terms ‘action (karma), inaction (akarma) and non-action (vikarma).’ Hard to understand is the way of work and even the wise get baffled by the various shades of results that human beings reap through their actions. But one should realise that action is fundamental to human existence and is the means to attain release.
Since the right course is not obvious, there is much confusion. Sastras teach the right kind of action, karma, and also point out those acts that have to be avoided, vikarma. It is important to know what is prescribed to uphold the path of dharma and also what is prohibited to avoid the sinful and the evil. This is the general meaning of the terms karma and vikarma that Krishna speaks about.
The Lord then goes on to explain the term akarma or inaction. He throws light on how to interpret one’s thought, word and deed since the physical and mental acts of a person bind him. If there is a lack of coordination here, it is detrimental to the practice of Karma yoga.
True inaction or akarma exemplifies the equanimity and mental balance that characterise the life of the wise and the yogi. If the mind is fixed on the self and the Brahman at all times irrespective of what one does, the person is said to be in the state of inaction though fully engaged in action. The aim is to be free of attachment and maintain inner composure.