tān akṛtsna-vido mandān
kṛtsna-vin na vicālayet
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 3.29
Bewildered by the modes of material nature, the ignorant fully engage themselves in material activities and become attached. But the wise should not unsettle them, although these duties are inferior due to the performers’ lack of knowledge.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
Persons who are unknowledgeable falsely identify with gross material consciousness and are full of material designations. This body is a gift of the material nature, and one who is too much attached to the bodily consciousness is called manda, or a lazy person without understanding of spirit soul. Ignorant men think of the body as the self; they accept bodily connections with others as kinsmanship, the land in which the body is obtained is their object of worship, and they consider the formalities of religious rituals to be ends in themselves. Social work, nationalism and altruism are some of the activities for such materially designated persons. Under the spell of such designations, they are always busy in the material field; for them spiritual realization is a myth, and so they are not interested. Those who are enlightened in spiritual life, however, should not try to agitate such materially engrossed persons. Better to prosecute one’s own spiritual activities silently. Such bewildered persons may be engaged in such primary moral principles of life as nonviolence and similar materially benevolent work.
Men who are ignorant cannot appreciate activities in Krishna consciousness, and therefore Lord Krishna advises us not to disturb them and simply waste valuable time. But the devotees of the Lord are more kind than the Lord because they understand the purpose of the Lord. Consequently they undertake all kinds of risks, even to the point of approaching ignorant men to try to engage them in the acts of Krishna consciousness, which are absolutely necessary for the human being.
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
If the jivas are separate from the senses and the sense objects without relationship to them, then why is it seen that people are attached to the sense objects? This verse answers.
By absorption in the senses made of matter jivas become bewildered. Just like a man possessed by a ghost thinks himself a ghost, the jivas absorbed in the senses made of matter think themselves to be the senses. Then they become attached to the sense objects (guna karmasu). The man who knows all (krtsnavit) does not disturb those who are ignorant. He does not attempt to make them realize that they, as jivas, are different from the senses, that they are not the senses. Instead he engages them in action without desire, which will remove the absorption in the senses. One does not cure a man possessed of a ghost even by instructing him even a hundred times, “You are a man, not a ghost!” Instead one cures him by use of mantras, jewels and medicines which will remove that affliction.
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
3.29 Those who ‘do not know the whole truth’ are those persons who are trying for the vision of the self but are deluded about the nature of the self, not knowing, on account of their involvement in Prakrti, that actions proceed from the Gunas of Prakrti. They are therefore attached to the actions of the Gunas — i.e., only to actions forming part of Karma Yoga. They are qualified only for Karma Yoga. One who knows the complete truth should not, by himself remaining a practitioner of Jnana Yoga, unsettle those persons who are ignorant and who do not know the complete truth. Those, the ignorant, who tend to follow the behaviour of a great man, when they see him transcend Karma Yoga, will have their minds shaken from Karma Yoga. Thus, the great man, should himself remain established in Karma Yoga, while having the full knowledge of the true nature of the self and contemplating on the self as not being the agent. Thus he should demonstrate that Karma Yoga by itself is an autonomous means for the vision of the self. He should create in those who do not know the complete truth the love of Karma Yoga. The superiority of this Karma Yoga over Jnana Yoga even for those who are qualified for Jnana Yoga has already been stated. Therefore one who is a respected person of note should follow this Karma Yoga alone for the good of the world. The method of performing actions after attributing agency to the Gunas by discerning the nature of the self as different from Prakrti, has been taught. The agency of the self is not produced by the inherent nature of the self, but by its contact with the Gunas. Hence by discriminating between what is obtained by contact and not obtained when there is no contact, it has to be understood that this agency is due to the Gunas or Prakrti. Now it is said that the agency of works, first attributed to Gunas, ultimately go to the Supreme Person who is the Self of all. It is done by discerning that the nature of the individual self is one of subservience to the Supreme Person, as they constitute His body:
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
When Lord Krishna states that one should not disturb the minds, He is referring to the ignorant, all those who are still deluded by prakriti or the material nature and the three gunas or the modes of sattva or goodness, rajas or passion and tamas or nescience. One who is situated in the wisdom of Vedic knowledge should not unbalance the equilibrium of the ignorant who although attached to the results of actions are at least doing their daily duties.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
The attributes of nature are those that are abducted by the senses thus delusion arises and the conception of false ego enjoying the sense objects impels a reaction. Lord Krishna uses the word guna-karmasu means the reactions from actions influenced by the modes of goodness, passion and nescience. Auditory and visual sense objects capture the attention of the senses being the ear and eye respectively and bring like or dislike to the mind. It should be understood that the impulses that come from the sense objects are secondary attributes and they have reactions and bind one to samsara the cycle of birth and death.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
In this way after presenting the distictions between one who is spiritually wise in Vedic knowledge and those who are acting in ignorance; Lord Krishna gives the sober caution not to unsettle the minds of the ignorant, for they being completely infatuated by prakriti or material nature are totally attached to all their actions thinking always that they are performing a particular action for the express purpose of being able to enjoy a particular delight. They are unable to perform actions as a matter of duty without desiring rewards. So the spiritually wise should not deviate the ignorant from their duties even if these duties are completely fruitive without any spiritual benefit because at least they are performing actions and administering superior knowledge to them may cause them to refrain from their duties altogether. Eventually in the course of their lifetime there will be a glimmer of comprehension of the utter futility for attachment for such actions.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
3.29 Those again, guna-sammudhah, who are wholly deluded by the gunas; prakrteh, of Nature; sajjante, become attached; guna karmasu, to the activities of the gunas, thining, ‘We do actions for results.’ Krtsna-vit, the knower of the All, one who is himself a knower of the Self; na vicalayet, should not disturb; tan, those who are attached to actions; (who are) mandan, of dull intellect; akrtsnavidah, who do not know the All, who are all attention on the results of actions. Unsetting of beliefs is itself the disturbance. That he should not do. This is the idea. Again, in what manner should duties be under-taken by a seeker after Liberation who is not enlightened, who is qualified for actions (rites and duties)? As to this, the answer is being stated:
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
3.29 Prakrteh etc. The deluded persons, under the influence of the Strands, Sattva etc., are attached to the actions performed by the Sattva etc., which are the Strands belonging to the Prakrti. In the same context (III, 26) it has been said : ‘Therefore being a master of Yoga, let [the wise] fulfil actions’. How to do that ? [The Lord] clarifies :
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
tan akrtsna-vido mandan
krtsna-vin na vicalayet
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
prakṛteḥ — of material nature; guṇa — by the modes; sammūḍhāḥ — befooled by material identification; sajjante — they become engaged; guṇa-karmasu — in material activities; tān — those; akṛtsna-vidaḥ — persons with a poor fund of knowledge; mandān — lazy to understand self-realization; kṛtsna-vit — one who is in factual knowledge; na — not; vicālayet — should try to agitate.