: A comprehensive discourse on the various kinds/types of acts is available in the Bhagavad Gita. Our actions are bound by the demands made on us by the context of our birth, status, physical and mental abilities, our individual ego sense, concentration and commitment towards the work, etc. While none can give up actions, the fruits of one's actions can be consciously relinquished. By doing so, one is not bound by the consequences of the actions — good or bad or a mix of both.
In a lecture, Sri N. Veezhinathan pointed out that Lord Krishna makes it clear to Arjuna that if he undertakes the war with this frame of mind, he is only doing his Swadharma or Kshatriya Dharma. “The actions of one whose mind remains unattached and is also free from ego-sense are not binding; though he slays these thousands in war, he is not a slayer.”
The Lord also points out that the three Gunas — Satva, Rajas and Tamas — influence the mental frame of the individual. Those with dominant Satva Guna (realised souls) will view the entire world as being pervaded by the Lord who is the essence of Eternal Truth, Consciousness and Bliss. Their actions will be guided by this perception.
A person with Rajas will view only differences and fail to see the oneness behind creation. The feeling of I and Mine will be predominant and a desire for a wish-fulfilment will drive the actions. Dasaratha's anxiety about his childlessness that was the cause behind the performance of the Putrakameshti Yaga is an example of an act of sacrifice coloured by Rajo Guna.
Tamasa Karma is action done without any sense of discrimination. There is neither any critical assessment of one's capabilities nor regard for the consequence of the act — whether it may lead to loss, harm, and sorrow. Duryodhana's desire for war is an example of an act driven by the Tamo Guna even as is Ravana's war against Rama. Ravana had faith in his own capacities and by his penance he had won boons for invincibility. But his thirst for power to control others made him act in such a way that it brought sorrow. Blinded by the typical Tamasic traits, arrogance and ignorance and the suicidal desire for Sita, he was driven to his downfall.