karyam karma karoti yah
sa sannyasi ca yogi ca
na niragnir na cakriyah
Word for word:
sri-bhagavan uvaca — the Lord said; anasritah — without taking shelter; karma-phalam — of the result of work; karyam — obligatory; karma — work; karoti — performs; yah — one who; sah — he; sannyasi — in the renounced order; ca — also; yogi — mystic; ca — also; na — not; nih — without; agnih — ﬁre; na — nor; ca — also; akriyah — without duty.
Translation by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada:
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: One who is unattached to the fruits of his work and who works as he is obligated is in the renounced order of life, and he is the true mystic, not he who lights no ﬁre and performs no duty.
Purport by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada:
In this chapter the Lord explains that the process of the eightfold yoga system is a means to control the mind and the senses. However, this is very difﬁcult for people in general to perform, especially in the Age of Kali. Although the eightfold yoga system is recommended in this chapter, the Lord emphasizes that the process of karma-yoga, or acting in Krishna consciousness, is better. Everyone acts in this world to maintain his family and their paraphernalia, but no one is working without some self-interest, some personal gratiﬁcation, be it concentrated or extended. The criterion of perfection is to act in Krishna consciousness, and not with a view to enjoying the fruits of work. To act in Krishna consciousness is the duty of every living entity because all are constitutionally parts and parcels of the Supreme. The parts of the body work for the satisfaction of the whole body. The limbs of the body do not act for self-satisfaction but for the satisfaction of the complete whole. Similarly, the living entity who acts for satisfaction of the supreme whole and not for personal satisfaction is the perfect sannyasi, the perfect yogi.
The sannyasis sometimes artiﬁcially think that they have become liberated from all material duties, and therefore they cease to perform agnihotra yajñas (ﬁre sacriﬁces), but actually they are self-interested because their goal is to become one with the impersonal Brahman. Such a desire is greater than any material desire, but it is not without self-interest. Similarly, the mystic yogi who practices the yoga system with half-open eyes, ceasing all material activities, desires some satisfaction for his personal self. But a person acting in Krishna consciousness works for the satisfaction of the whole, without self-interest. A Krishna conscious person has no desire for self-satisfaction. His criterion of success is the satisfaction of Krishna, and thus he is the perfect sannyasi, or perfect yogi. Lord Caitanya, the highest perfectional symbol of renunciation, prays in this way:
na dhanam na janam na sundarim
kavitam va jagad-isa kamaye
mama janmani janmanisvare
bhavatad bhaktir ahaituki tvayi
“O Almighty Lord, I have no desire to accumulate wealth, nor to enjoy beautiful women. Nor do I want any number of followers. What I want only is the causeless mercy of Your devotional service in my life, birth after birth.”