What is Doership? -

What is Doership?

What is Doership?


Amar Chitra Katha on Gita shows us how relatable Prince Arjuna is because he is demonstrating that although he knows Gita, he is unable to live this. 

This course is helping us come out of instinct and come into intention. Our instinct is that everything we are experiencing is important but it is not

The Gita is a fuel to our intellect to filter out the important from the unimportant and to inquire which then helps us grow from Knowing the Gita to Living the Gita.

  • In Chapter 1, Prince Arjuna asks Lord Krishna “Why should I act?”
  • In Chapter 2, Lord Krishna answers “These are not actions, these are responsibilities. And responsibilities are a means to contentment”
  • In Chapter 3, Prince Arjuna asks “Why do I have to go through these responsibilities?”
  • In Chapter 4, Lord Krishna answers “I am Divine, I am the Creator”. How can you have deservership when I am the Creator? The focus of Chapter 4 is on selflessness with an emphasis on letting go of deservership.


Prince Arjuna’s Philosophical Question (Chapter 5, verse 1):

Renunciation-of-actions, O Krishna, You praise and, again YOGA-performance of actions. Tell me conclusively that which is the better of the two.

Do I let go of doership or deservership while performing actions?

Lord Krishna’s Philosophical Answer (Chapter 5, verse 2):

Renunciation of action and YOGA-of-action both lead to the highest bliss; but of the two, YOGA-of-action is superior to the renunciation of action.

One who follows sanyasa yoga (renunciation of action) is a full-time seeker who engages in responsibilities with an emphasis on letting go of doership. 

One who follows karma yoga (yoga of action) is a part-time seeker who engages in responsibility with the emphasis on letting go of deservership. Both practices will lead to nishreya (peace) because both purify the mind. 

For Arjuna (and for all of us who are part-time seekers), start with karma yoga (let go of deservership). 

In karma yoga, there is no space for immoral or indulgent actions. With sincere and non-compromising practice of karma yoga, one will naturally be led to sanyasa yoga (letting go of doership). 

If one’s level of vairagya (or independence) is high, sanyasa yoga will become the focus.

The first step toward sanyasa yoga is karma yoga — letting go of likes and dislikes in which there are no mental or verbal complaints. 

Once deservership is addressed and checked, one can work on letting go of doership.

How should one engage in their responsibilities? By letting go of likes and dislikes. Live in a more meaningful way.

Practical Question and Answer: What is doership? Forgetfulness of the presence of the Divine.

Reflection: What are the dangers of misunderstanding “renunciation” to mean giving up your responsibilities, as opposed to giving up your sense of doership?

To give up your responsibilities is suppression and is an external “show” which will not lead to growth. To give up your sense of doership is sublimation and is internal which will lead to growth.

Q & A

  1. How to stand up to others for dharma to create an impact?

There is no rule of thumb. Every circumstance is different which is why it is critical to know yourself. You will know if you are strong enough to stand up to others. 

If you are strong enough, you can stand up for what is right keeping in mind you do not control others and they must be receptive to what you are sharing. Ultimately, Bhagavan is there and looking after all.

2. Why do we say Ravana is bad when all that is happening is Bhagavan Rama’s leela (He is in control)?

We externalize right and wrong which helps us externalize or ”see” what is happening inside of us. It is similar to worshipping a murti but then evolving to feeling that divinity inside of us. 

Deeper than this is to understand that all this IS Bhagavan’s leela and then we start to let go of doership. This helps one to surrender.

3. How to identify one’s responsibilities?

Everyone’s singular responsibility is to purify the mind. There is no other responsibility. 

All that you do will become meaningful as you learn to grow out of deservership and doership. Whatever comes to you will be prasada buddhi and you will embrace that as your responsibility. 

Keep all other worldly responsibilities simple (school, career, etc). Treat family as an internal ashram that is continually testing you and giving you the opportunity to grow so you can purify your mind.

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About Chinmaya Mission

The Chinmaya Mission Northwest Indiana Center was established in 2002. It has now evolved into an organization serving the entire Indian community in Northwest Indiana. Chinmaya Mission is an excellent opportunity for spiritual learning.

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