यज्ञदानतप:कर्म न त्याज्यं कार्यमेव तत् |
यज्ञो दानं तपश्चैव पावनानि मनीषिणाम् || 5||
yajña-dāna-tapaḥ-karma na tyājyaṁ kāryam eva tat
yajño dānaṁ tapaśh chaiva pāvanāni manīṣhiṇām
yajna-dana-tapah-karma na tyajyam karyam eva tat
yajno danam tapash chaiva pavanani manishinam
BG 18.5: Actions based upon sacrifice, charity, and penance should never be abandoned; they must certainly be performed. Indeed, acts of sacrifice, charity, and penance are purifying even for those who are wise.
Here, Shree Krishna pronounces his verdict that we should never renounce actions which elevate us and are beneficial for humankind. Such actions, if performed in the proper consciousness, do not bind us, instead they help us grow spiritually. Consider, for example, a caterpillar. In order to transform itself, it weaves a cocoon for its evolution and encages itself in it. Once it becomes a butterfly, it breaks open the cocoon and soars into the sky. Our position in the world is similar to this. Like the ugly caterpillar, we are presently attached to the world and bereft of noble qualities. As a part of our self-preparation and self-education, we need to perform actions that bring about the inner transformation we desire. Yajña (sacrifice), dān (charity), and tapa (penance) are acts that help in our spiritual evolution and growth. At times, it may seem that they are binding too, but they are like the caterpillar’s cocoon. They melt our impurities, beautify us from within, and effectually help us break through the shackles of earthly life. Hence, Shree Krishna instructs in this verse that such auspicious activities must never be abandoned. He now qualifies his statement by revealing the proper attitude with which they must be performed.