na me pārthāsti kartavyaḿ
triṣu lokeṣu kiñcana
varta eva ca karmaṇi
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 3.22
O son of Pritha, there is no work prescribed for Me within all the three planetary systems. Nor am I in want of anything, nor have I a need to obtain anything—and yet I am engaged in prescribed duties.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
The Supreme Personality of Godhead is described in the Vedic literatures as follows:
tam ishvaranam paramam maheshvaram
tam devatanam paramam ca daivatam
patim patinam paramam parastad
vidama devam bhuvanesam idyam
na tasya karyam karanam ca vidyate
na tat-samas cabhyadhikas ca drsyate
parasya shaktir vividhaiva sruyate
svabhaviki jnana-bala-kriya ca
“The Supreme Lord is the controller of all other controllers, and He is the greatest of all the diverse planetary leaders. Everyone is under His control. All entities are delegated with particular power only by the Supreme Lord; they are not supreme themselves. He is also worshipable by all demigods and is the supreme director of all directors. Therefore, He is transcendental to all kinds of material leaders and controllers and is worshipable by all. There is no one greater than Him, and He is the supreme cause of all causes.
“He does not possess bodily form like that of an ordinary living entity. There is no difference between His body and His soul. He is absolute. All His senses are transcendental. Any one of His senses can perform the action of any other sense. Therefore, no one is greater than Him or equal to Him. His potencies are multifarious, and thus His deeds are automatically performed as a natural sequence.” (Shvetasvatara Upanishad 6.7–8)
Since everything is in full opulence in the Personality of Godhead and is existing in full truth, there is no duty for the Supreme Personality of Godhead to perform. One who must receive the results of work has some designated duty, but one who has nothing to achieve within the three planetary systems certainly has no duty. And yet Lord Krishna is engaged on the Battlefield of Kurukshetra as the leader of the kshatriyas because the kshatriyas are duty-bound to give protection to the distressed. Although He is above all the regulations of the revealed scriptures, He does not do anything that violates the revealed scriptures.
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
In three verses the Lord uses himself as an example.
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
3.22 For Me, who is the Lord of all, who has all desires fulfilled, who is omniscient, whose will is always true, and who, at My own will, remains in the three worlds in the forms of gods, men and such other beings, there is nothing whatever to achieve. Therefore though there is for Me nothing ‘unacquired’, i.e., nothing yet to be acquired by work, I go on working for the protection of the world.
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
It may be submitted that although the eternal soul is not slain; yet and still reflecting on the total destruction of the physical body one might still grieve. To answer this it is being put forth that just as new physical bodies which are dependent on karma or reactions from one’s actions in a present life will surely continue; so there is no need for grief at the destruction of old, worm out bodies. This is the proper understanding.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
In this verse the Supreme Lord clarifies the distinction between the physical body and the eternal soul by giving this succinct analogy.
Now begins the summation.
The living entities propensity of acquiring and discarding physical bodies is factually the process of birth and death and therefore should be understood as not deserving to be the cause of sorrow. Thus the Supreme Lord gave explanation was given to delineate this.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
Although by reflection it can be clearly understood that the soul is indestructible and not to be lamented for; yet and still the physical body is destructible. With the termination in battle of the physical body of a very dear one such as preceptor, protector or loved ones the seperation from whom will undoubtedly cause deep lamentation. To categorically clarify this misusage Lord Krishna explains that just as there is no grief when one discards old worn out garments and there is joy at accepting new garments in the same way the embodied soul discarding old worn out bodies joyfully accepts new ones. So if preceptors like Bhisma were to lose their body in this war of righteousness then they would receive a new and better physical body in their next life and it would be beneficial for them and not unfavorable.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
3.22 O Partha, na asti, there is no; kartavyam, duty; kincana, whatsoever; me, for Me (to fulfill); even trisu lokesu, in all the three worlds. Why? There is na anavaptam, nothing (that remains) unachieved; or avaptavyam, to be achieved. Still varte eva, do I continue; karmani, in action.
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
3.21-22 Yad yad acarati etc. Na me etc. The Bhagavat cities Himself as an example to illustrate the idea that to favour the world is the [only] purpose for such a person to exert in action, eventhough he has already attained whatever is to be attained, and is fully satisfied in his mind.
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
na me parthasti kartavyam
trisu lokesu kincana
varta eva ca karmani
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
na — not; me — Mine; pārtha — O son of Pṛthā; asti — there is; kartavyam — prescribed duty; triṣu — in the three; lokeṣu — planetary systems; kiñcana — any; na — nothing; anavāptam — wanted; avāptavyam — to be gained; varte — I am engaged; eva — certainly; ca — also; karmaṇi — in prescribed duty.