Translation of Bhagavad Gita 18.44
Farming, cow protection and business are the natural work for the vaishyas, and for the shudras there is labor and service to others.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
No commentary by Srila Prabhupada.
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
This verse describes the actions of the vaisyas predominated by rajas with tamas as secondary guna. Protecting the cows and commerce are the activities of the vaisya. One who protects the cows called go raksah. The state of protecting the cows is called go raksyam. The verse also speaks of the sudras in whom tamas predominates and rajas is secondary. Serving the vaisyas, ksatriyas and brahmanas (paricaryatmikam) is the activity of the sudra.
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
18.44 ‘Agriculture’ is cultivation to produce crops. The meaning of ‘cattle breeding’ is the protection and rearing of cattle. ‘Trade’ is the activity causing the amassing of wealth through buying and selling. This is the duty of Vaisya born of his inherent nature. The duty of a Sudra, born of his inherent nature, is service to the three Orders mentioned earlier. All these have been described to stress that the occupational activities of the four stations are auxiliary to the performance of sacrifices etc., which are ordained by the Sastra. Sacrifices etc., are common to the first three stations. Control of the senses etc., are common to those who, among the first three stations, are anxious for release. As a Brahmana possesses preponderance of Sattva, and as the control of the senses, mind etc., can be performed by him easily and naturally, control of the senses etc., have been prescribed as his duty. As control of the mind, senses etc., can be performed only with difficulty by the Ksatriyas and the Vaisyas owing to the preponderance of Rajas and Tamas respectively in them, these have not been stated as their duty. The occupation of a Brahmana is officiating as priest in sacrifices, teaching the Vedas and receiving gifts. The occupation of a Ksatriya is protecting the people and that of the Vaisyas is farming etc., as mentioned before. The duty and occupation of the Sudra is service to the three stations.
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
The duties of both the vaisyas or mercantile agricultural class and the sudras or servant class is explained by Lord Krishna. Cow raising and protecting and agricultural cultivation as well engaging in buying and selling of products and goods are duties of vaisyas born of the nature of raja guna or mode of passion mixed with tama guna or mode of ignorance. The duties of sudras is loyal service to the other three classes and receiving sustenance for their livelihood from them and is born of the nature of tama guna.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
Sri Madhvacharya did not comment on this sloka.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
Now Lord Krishna reiterates the duties of the vaisyas the farmer mercantile class. Cow raising and cow protecting, tilling the land for crops, trading and selling for business are the duities of vaisyas. Industrious service to the other three classes for fair recompense is the duty of sudras the worker class.
The Manu Samhita, chapter one,verses 88-91 confirm: Study of the Vedic scriptures, teaching of the Vedic scriptures, performing Vedic rituals, officiating as priests for ksatriyas and vaisyas initiated in Vedic culture, giving gifts and accepting donations are the duties of Brahmins. Protection of the citizenry, supporting and organising Vedic rituals, study of the Vedic scriptures, righteousness in ruling and giving donations to the Brahmin are the duties of ksatriyas. Protecting and raising of cows, study of the Vedas, agriculture, gift making, buying and trading are duties of vaisyas. Only one service was ordained for sudras the worker class and that was to ungrudgingly serve the three upper social orders.
The qualities of controlling the mind and senses, physical restraint of the body, etc. are commonly prescribed for all aspirants of moksa or liberation, they are naturally present in Brahmins due to being inherently predominated by sattva guna. The Vedic scriptures cite examples that others due to samskaras or previous impressions may also be situated in sattva guna as well if possessing truthfulness, forgiveness, non-violence, humility, etc. and the various qualities of sattva guna. This is apparent.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
18.44 Svabyavajam, the natural; vaisya-karma, duties of the Vaisyas, of the Vaisya caste; are krsi-gauraksyavanijyam, agriculture, cattle rearing and trade: Krsi is tilling of land. Orre who rears cattle (go) is goraksa; the abstract form of that word is gauraksyam, animal-husbandry. Vanijyam means the occupation of a trader, consisting of buying and selling. Sudrasya, of the Sudra; api, too; svabhavajam, the natural; karma, duty; is paricaryatmakam, in the form of service. When rightly pursued, the natural result of these duties enjoined for the castes is the attainment of heaven-which act is evident from such Smrti texts as, ‘People belonging to the castes and stages of life, who are true to their own duties, experience after death the fruit of their actions. And after that, as a result of the remnants of their merits they are born in some excellent region, caste and family, with greater piety, longevity, learning, conduct, wealth, happiness and intelligence’ (Ap. Dh. Su. 188.8.131.52), etc. And in the Puranas also it is particularly mentioned that poeple belonging to the (different) castes and stages of life come to have specific results in the form of different worlds. But this result that is going to be stated follows from a different cause:
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
18.41-60 Brahmana – etc. upto avasopitat. Surely the intrinsic nature of the Brahmanas etc., does not voilate what has been difined (above) by way of classifying their duties. Therefore, as far as you are concerned, you have the intrinsic quality of the Ksatriya (warrior), and your nature i.e., intrinsic quality, does, without fail, assume the part of the inciter of yourself, even though you don’t like it. For, a person who acts simply being incited by that (natural condition), there is the strong bondage of the merit or demerit. Therefore, perform actions following the means of correct knowledge, taught by Me. In that case, the bondage would disappear. The intention of the principal sentence (statement of the entire passage under study) is to help to get this idea. The meaning of the subordinate sentences (statements) is evident. Briefly (verse 50) : in short. Knowledge : i.e. the one which has been explained earlier. Nistha conveys, avoiding verbal jugglary, the meaning ‘what has been determined’. He who is endowed with intellect totally pure etc. : All this has been almost explained already. Hence, no more trouble is taken [to comment upon it].
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
kṛṣi — plowing; go — of cows; rakṣya — protection; vāṇijyam — trade; vaiśya — of a vaiśya; karma — duty; svabhāva-jam — born of his own nature; paricaryā — service; ātmakam — consisting of; karma — duty; śūdrasya — of the śūdra; api — also; svabhāva-jam — born of his own nature.