jyayasi cet karmanas te
mata buddhir janardana
tat kim karmani ghore mam
Word for word:
arjunah uvaca — Arjuna said; jyayasi — better; cet — if; karmanah — than fruitive action; te — by You; mata — is considered; buddhih — intelligence; janardana — O Krishna; tat — therefore; kim — why; karmani — in action; ghore — ghastly; mam — me; niyojayasi — You are engaging; kesava — O Krishna.
Translation by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada:
Arjuna said: O Janardana, O Kesava, why do You want to engage me in this ghastly warfare, if You think that intelligence is better than fruitive work?
Purport by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada:
The Supreme Personality of Godhead Sri Krishna has very elaborately described the constitution of the soul in the previous chapter, with a view to delivering His intimate friend Arjuna from the ocean of material grief. And the path of realization has been recommended: buddhi-yoga, or Krishna consciousness. Sometimes Krishna consciousness is misunderstood to be inertia, and one with such a misunderstanding often withdraws to a secluded place to become fully Krishna conscious by chanting the holy name of Lord Krishna. But without being trained in the philosophy of Krishna consciousness, it is not advisable to chant the holy name of Krishna in a secluded place, where one may acquire only cheap adoration from the innocent public. Arjuna also thought of Krishna consciousness or buddhi-yoga, or intelligence in spiritual advancement of knowledge, as something like retirement from active life and the practice of penance and austerity at a secluded place. In other words, he wanted to skillfully avoid the ﬁghting by using Krishna consciousness as an excuse. But as a sincere student, he placed the matter before his master and questioned Krishna as to his best course of action. In answer, Lord Krishna elaborately explained karma-yoga, or work in Krishna consciousness, in this Third Chapter.