dūreṇa hy avaraḿ karma
buddhau śaraṇam anviccha
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 2.49
O Dhananjaya, keep all abominable activities far distant by devotional service, and in that consciousness surrender unto the Lord. Those who want to enjoy the fruits of their work are misers.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
One who has actually come to understand one’s constitutional position as an eternal servitor of the Lord gives up all engagements save working in Krishna consciousness. As already explained, buddhi-yoga means transcendental loving service to the Lord. Such devotional service is the right course of action for the living entity. Only misers desire to enjoy the fruit of their own work just to be further entangled in material bondage. Except for work in Krishna consciousness, all activities are abominable because they continually bind the worker to the cycle of birth and death. One should therefore never desire to be the cause of work. Everything should be done in Krishna consciousness, for the satisfaction of Krishna. Misers do not know how to utilize the assets of riches which they acquire by good fortune or by hard labor. One should spend all energies working in Krishna consciousness, and that will make one’s life successful. Like misers, unfortunate persons do not employ their human energy in the service of the Lord.
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
Krishna here criticizes karma done with material desires. The actions done with material desire (avaram karma) are far inferior to niskama karma yoga offered to the Supreme Lord (buddhi yogat). Take shelter of niskama karma yoga (buddhau). In this verse buddhi yoga refers to niskama karma yoga rather than bhakti yoga.
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
2.49 All other kinds of action are far inferior to those done with evenness of mind, which consists in the renunciation of the main result and with equanimity towards success or failure in respect of the secondary results. Between the two kinds of actions, the one with equanimity and the other with attachment, the former associated with equanimity removes all the sufferings of Samsara and leads to release which is the highest object of human existence. The latter type of actions, which is pursued with an eye on results, leads one to Samsara whose character is endless suffering. Thus when an act is being done, take refuge in Buddhi (evenness of mind). Refuge means abode. Live in that Buddhi, is the meaning. ‘Miserable are they who act with a motive for results’: it means, ‘Those who act with attachment to the results, etc., are miserable, as they will continue in Samsara.’
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
Actions initiated by desire for rewards are debased and abominable. Actions performed in spiritual intelligence by the science of the individual consciousness attaining communion with the Ultimate Consciousness are far superior. Therefore perform actions in spiritual intelligence and take complete shelter of the Supreme Lord. But those who are impelled and motivated by desire have only misery and wretchedness. For the Brihad- aranyaka Upanisad 3.8.10 states: Whoever departs from this Earth having no knowledge of the Supreme Lord is in a miserable condition.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
In the verse Lord Krishna prescribes to endeavour for equanimity revealing that the path is by yoga and by wisdom. Avaram means abominable and durena means to discard; so discarding all fruitive activities one should adhere to spiritual intelligence and remain steadfast in wisdom. One whose only objective is based on fruitive desires wishes to enjoy the rewards of their actions and is degraded.
Now begins the summation.
For all living entities the Supreme Lord is the only refuge. When this realisation finally dawns upon the intellect of a living entity whether they are ignorant, wise or liberated they surrender unto the Supreme Lord without reservation. Those who in delusion consider themselves the same as the Supreme Lord Krishna who is distinctly different due to His inconceivable potencies and transcendental attributes, descend to the hellish worlds of darkness without a doubt. They are doomed to eternal damnation in hellish conditions.
In the Narada Purana it is stated:
Those who see a separation in the Supreme Lord Krishna from His name, form, attributes, pastimes, incarnations and those who deride and seek to diminish the glory of the Supreme Lord Krishna’s devotees sink to an existence in the hellish worlds of darkness.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
One performing actions with the thought of receiving rewards gets the desired resultant. This appears positive but it is repeatedly denounced. Why? Because actions performed due to selfish motives are inferior to actions performed due to selfless motives. Selfless motives are balanced in equanimity. Equanimity possesses a determinate consciousness. Because of this reality one should seek the shelter of evenness of mind in equanimity. Arjuna had acquired so many riches before naturally following his duty so why should he try to avoid his duty worrying about success or failure. Those motivated to perform activities craving only to get a reward for their actions are inferior and wretched.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
2.49 Then again, O Dhananjaya, as against action performed with equanimity of mind for adoring God, karma, action undertaken by one longing for the results; is, hi, indeed; durena, quite, by far; avaram, inferior, very remote; buddhi-yogat, from the yoga of wisdom, from actions undertaken with equanimity of mind, because it (the former) is the cause of birth, death, etc. Since this is so, therefore, saranam anviccha, take resort to, seek shelter; buddhau, under wisdom, which relates to Yoga, or to the Conviction about Reality that arises from its (the former’s) maturity and which is the cause of (achieving) fearlessness. The meaning is that you should resort to the knowledge of the supreme Goal, because those who under take inferior actions, phala-hetavah, who thirst for rewards, who are impelled by results; are krpanah, pitiable, according to the Sruti, ‘He, O Gargi, who departs from this world without knowing this Immutable, is pitiable’ (Br. 3.8.10). [See note under 2.7.-Tr.]
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
2.49 Durena etc. Due to the contact (one has) with determining faculty [one’s] inferior action i.e., the action that bears bad fruits and is empty, remains far away [from him]. Therefore seek i.e., pray for a refuge in the determining faculty of that nature, on account of which that determining faculty is gained.
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
durena hy avaram karma
buddhau saranam anviccha
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
dūreṇa — discard it at a long distance; hi — certainly; avaram — abominable; karma — activity; buddhi-yogāt — on the strength of Kṛṣṇa consciousness; dhanañjaya — O conqueror of wealth; buddhau — in such consciousness; śaraṇam — full surrender; anviccha — try for; kṛpaṇāḥ — misers; phala-hetavaḥ — those desiring fruitive results.