Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 4, Verse 16

किं कर्म किमकर्मेति कवयोऽप्यत्र मोहिता: |
तत्ते कर्म प्रवक्ष्यामि यज्ज्ञात्वा मोक्ष्यसेऽशुभात् || 16||

kiṁ karma kim akarmeti kavayo ’pyatra mohitāḥ
tat te karma pravakṣhyāmi yaj jñātvā mokṣhyase ’śhubhāt

kimwhat; karmaaction; kimwhat; akarmainaction; itithus; kavayaḥthe wise; apieven; atrain this; mohitāḥare confused; tatthat; teto you; karmaaction; pravakṣhyāmiI shall explain; yatwhich; jñātvāknowing; mokṣhyaseyou may free yourself; aśhubhātfrom inauspiciousness

kim karma kim akarmeti kavayo ’pyatra mohitah
tat te karma pravakshyami yaj jnatva mokshyase ’shubhat


BG 4.16: What is action and what is inaction? Even the wise are confused in determining this. Now I shall explain to you the secret of action, by knowing which, you may free yourself from material bondage.


The principles of dharma cannot be determined by mental speculation. Even intelligent persons become confused in the maze of apparently contradictory arguments presented by the scriptures and the sages. For example, the Vedas recommend non-violence. Accordingly in the Mahabharat, Arjun wishes to follow the same course of action and shun violence but Shree Krishna says that his duty here is to engage in violence. If duty varies with circumstance, then to ascertain one’s duty in any particular situation is a complex matter. Yamraj, the celestial god of Death, stated:

dharmaṁ tu sākṣhād bhagavat praṇītaṁ na vai vidur ṛiṣhayo nāpi devāḥ

(Śhrīmad Bhāgavatam 6.3.19)[v17]

“What is proper action and what is improper action? This is difficult to determine even for the great ṛiṣhis and the celestial gods. Dharma has been created by God himself, and he alone is its true knower.” Lord Krishna says to Arjun that he shall now reveal to him the esoteric science of action and inaction through which he may free himself from material bondage.

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