saktāḥ karmaṇy avidvāḿso
yathā kurvanti bhārata
kuryād vidvāḿs tathāsaktaś
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 3.25
As the ignorant perform their duties with attachment to results, the learned may similarly act, but without attachment, for the sake of leading people on the right path.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
A person in Krishna consciousness and a person not in Krishna consciousness are differentiated by different desires. A Krishna conscious person does not do anything which is not conducive to development of Krishna consciousness. He may even act exactly like the ignorant person, who is too much attached to material activities, but one is engaged in such activities for the satisfaction of his sense gratification, whereas the other is engaged for the satisfaction of Krishna. Therefore, the Krishna conscious person is required to show the people how to act and how to engage the results of action for the purpose of Krishna consciousness.
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
He summarizes here that action should be done even by a person established in jnana.
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
3.25 ‘The ignorant’ are those people who do not know the entire truth about the self; ‘attached to their work’ means they are inseparably yoked to work. Because of their incomplete knowledge of the self, they are not qualified for Jnana Yoga which is of the nature of practising knowledge of the self. They are qualified for Karma Yoga only. As they should practise Karma Yoga for the vision of the self in the same manner Karma Yoga should be practised by one who is recognised as virtuous, who is unattached to work by reason of the vision of the self, and who wishes that his conduct should give guidance to others in virtuous conduct. In this way he should protect the world from chaos by his example. Such a person, even though qualified for Jnana Yoga, should practice Karma Yoga.
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
In this verse the topic of the previous two verse is being concluded with Lord Krishna confirming that those great souls who have attained atma- tatva or soul realisation should perform prescribed Vedic actions for the benefit of the world out of compassion. As the ignorant perform actions being attached to the rewards contrarily one situated in atma-tattva should unattached perform Vedic activities solely for the welfare of the world.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
Sri Madhvacharya did not comment on this sloka.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
So one established as a person of spiritual wisdom should also perform prescribed Vedic actions without attachment in order to guide the masses down the path of virtue to redemption. Those devoid of knowledge of the Upanisads work with attachment engrossed totally in their actions. But the person of spiritual wisdom being able to discriminate between the atma or soul and the physical body is not perplexed and should act in an exemplary manner that inspires the public to perform prescribed Vedic actions as a matter of duty without attachment for the good of society. This what Lord Krishna means in this verse.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
3.25 O scion of the Bharata dynasty, yatha, as; some avidvamsah, unenlightened poele; kurvanti, act. saktah, with attachment; karmani, to work, (thinking) ‘The reward of this work will accrue to me’; tatha, so; should vidvan, the enlightened person, the knower of the Self; kuryat, act; asaktah, without attachment, remaining unattached. [Giving up the idea of agentship and the hankering for the rewards of actions to oneself.] Whay does he (the enlightened person) act like him (the former)? Listen to that: Cikirsuh, being desirous of achieving; lokasamgraham, prevention of people from going astray. ‘Neither for Me who am a knower of the Self, nor for any other (knower of the Self) who wants thus prevent people from going astray, is there any duty apart from working for the welfare of the world. Hence, the following advice is being given to such a knower of the Self:’
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
3.23-25 Yadi etc. upto loka-sangraham. Further, if a well-in-formed person were to abandon action, that would create in the society, a split for bad in the form of being illrooted, becuase of the binding force – viz., the regard for a particular well-known theroy-being loosened. For, they are able neither to cast off their tendency of action nor to accupy the tradition (or stream) of wisdom. Consequently they become weak. Because these (common men) are not purified correct knowledge, therefore to break i.e., to shake their mind would be highly harmful for them. Hence, for their benefit, one should not disturb their mind. This [the Lord] says :
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
saktah karmany avidvamso
yatha kurvanti bharata
kuryad vidvams tathasaktas
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
saktāḥ — being attached; karmaṇi — in prescribed duties; avidvāḿsaḥ — the ignorant; yathā — as much as; kurvanti — they do; bhārata — O descendant of Bharata; kuryāt — must do; vidvān — the learned; tathā — thus; asaktaḥ — without attachment; cikīrṣuḥ — desiring to lead; loka-sańgraham — the people in general.