In one of the scenes in ‘Evade Subramanyam.’ A character says –
“Bhagavad gita lo oka slokam undi – ‘karmanye vaadhi kaarasya, maaphalechu kadachana’. Dani ardham ento telusa? Phalanni aasinchakunda manishi tana dharmanni tanu nirvartinchukuntu povali.. Daani tarvata edi jaragalani unte ade jarugutundi..” (There’s one line in Bhagavad Gita which means – man should do what he is supposed to do (his dharma) without expecting anything in return and let let life run it’s course). The more I think about it, The more it makes sense to me.
Setting of Gita – It was given to a soldier who lost his will to fight. You have to be a soldier to get through life. Even Scott Peck (author of multi million selling book – The road less traveled) said, ‘Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths’. And, to face these challenges of life, what is the best stance? To be a soldier. But, is it easy to fight? No. You’ll too often, more than you’d like to admit, will succumb to the overwhelming odds in guise of responsibility and love. What do you need then? Advice. From whom? Probably the person who is beyond all this – God (or the wise sage who wrote Gita).
The Sloka says – ‘You do what you are supposed to do – your dharma – and leave the rest’. Do what you are supposed to do without expecting anything in return – why? Because life does not work that way. There is no guarantee that you’ll get in return the fruits of your efforts. So, don’t expect.
There are two aspects worth observing in this sloka – what is dharma? How can you not have expectations?
What is dharma? I think it means the right thing you are supposed to do; and that is contextual. If you are a husband, taking care of your family is the right thing to do. If you are a child, taking care of your parents is the right thing to do. If you are working, giving your best at work is the right thing to do. If you are at war, winning is the right thing to do. This is dharma.
Nature of work – How can we not expect returns? Does it not defeat the purpose of work? How can we not care of the result when our livelihood depends on it? Sure, but, does bothering about the result help us in anyway, anytime? Does it serve any other purpose than increasing anxiety?
Work can be divided into things you love to do and things you need to do (because there’s no other choice, but have to get done). Life is a mixture of both these types of work. When we love what we do, we care for the work/process so much that the result does not bother us. We just enjoy doing it. When we play a game of cricket, sure, winning does matter, but if we enjoyed playing the game, the result – winning/losing does not pinch us (we win, good. We lose, we know we did our best and there’s nothing to be ashamed of). And, when we do something out of compulsion we don’t care about the result.
So, as a human, there is only one way to live life – by doing the right thing, without expecting anything in return & let life run its course. Easier said than done? Of course, or else one Gita, one Koran, one Bible would’ve been sufficient to change the world.