niyatam kuru karma tvam
karma jyayo hy akarmanah
sarira-yatrapi ca te
na prasidhyed akarmanah
Word for word:
niyatam — prescribed; kuru — do; karma — duties; tvam — you; karma — work; jyayah — better; hi — certainly; akarmanah — than no work; sarira — bodily; yatra — maintenance; api — even; ca — also; te — your; na — never; prasidhyet — is effected; akarmanah — without work.
Translation by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada:
Perform your prescribed duty, for doing so is better than not working. One cannot even maintain one’s physical body without work.
Purport by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada:
There are many pseudo meditators who misrepresent themselves as belonging to high parentage, and great professional men who falsely pose that they have sacriﬁced everything for the sake of advancement in spiritual life. Lord Krishna did not want Arjuna to become a pretender. Rather, the Lord desired that Arjuna perform his prescribed duties as set forth for ksatriyas. Arjuna was a householder and a military general, and therefore it was better for him to remain as such and perform his religious duties as prescribed for the householder ksatriya. Such activities gradually cleanse the heart of a mundane man and free him from material contamination. So-called renunciation for the purpose of maintenance is never approved by the Lord, nor by any religious scripture. After all, one has to maintain one’s body and soul together by some work. Work should not be given up capriciously, without puriﬁcation of materialistic propensities. Anyone who is in the material world is certainly possessed of the impure propensity for lording it over material nature, or, in other words, for sense gratiﬁcation. Such polluted propensities have to be cleared. Without doing so, through prescribed duties, one should never attempt to become a so-called transcendentalist, renouncing work and living at the cost of others.