karmaṇy abhipravṛtto ’pi
naiva kiñcit karoti saḥ
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 4.20
Abandoning all attachment to the results of his activities, ever satisfied and independent, he performs no fruitive action, although engaged in all kinds of undertakings.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
This freedom from the bondage of actions is possible only in Krishna consciousness, when one is doing everything for Krishna. A Krishna conscious person acts out of pure love for the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and therefore he has no attraction for the results of the action. He is not even attached to his personal maintenance, for everything is left to Krishna. Nor is he anxious to secure things, nor to protect things already in his possession. He does his duty to the best of his ability and leaves everything to Krishna. Such an unattached person is always free from the resultant reactions of good and bad; it is as though he were not doing anything. This is the sign of akarma, or actions without fruitive reactions. Any other action, therefore, devoid of Krishna consciousness, is binding upon the worker, and that is the real aspect of vikarma, as explained hereinbefore.
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
This person is always satisfied by his own bliss (nitya trptah). He does not take shelter at all of anything for his livelihood (nirasrayah).
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
4.20 Whoever performs actions, renouncing attachment to their fruits and is satisfied with the eternal, i.e., satisfied with his own self, and dependent on none, i.e., devoid of dependence on transient Prakrti (body and external nature) — such a perosn, even though fully engaged in actions, does not act at all. He is engaged in the practice of knowledge under the form of action. Again, Karma, having the form of knowledge, is examined:
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
Once one has given up attachment to actions as a means of obtaining rewards as well as giving up the desire for the rewards of actions one becomes tranquil and content without any need for acquisition or accumulation. Such persons although sometimes appearing to be engaged in actions naturally or prescribed, factually do nothing as all their activities are actually inaction. This is Lord Krishna’s meaning here.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
It is not only by the mere renunciation of the intention for fruits of desire but also it is essential to renounce the affection and intense liking for these fruits in whatever form one is remembering them. This is what Lord Krishna is emphasising here. The nature of spiritual intelligence is being always tranquil and ever content. By acting in this way one assumes the qualities of the eternally equipoised and infinitely independent Supreme Lord.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
Now Lord Krishna speaks about the non-binding effects that the actions of the spiritually intelligent insure. They are without egoism and unattached to the doership of actions. Being completely satisfied by the bliss they experience within their consciousness they maintain their bodily existence by accepting what comes on its own accord. They are no longer affected by the dualities of life such as good and evil.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
4.20 With the help of the above-mentioned wisdom, tyaktva, having given up the idea of agentship; and phala-asangam, attachment to the results of action; he who is nitya-trptah, ever-trptah, ever-contented, i.e. has no hankering for objects; and nirasrayah, dependent on nothing-. Asraya means that on which a person leans, desiring to achieve some human goal. The idea is that he is dependent of any support which may be a means of attaining some coveted seen or unseen result. In reality, actions done by a man of Knowledge are certainly inactions, since he is endowed with the realization of the actionless Self. Actions together with their accessories must be relinquished by one who has become thus, because they have no end to serve. This being so, api, even though; he remains abhi-pravrttah, engaged as before; karmani, in actions-getting out of those (actions) being impossible-, either with the intention of preventing people from going astray or with a view to avoiding the censure of the wise people; sah, he; eva, really; na karoti, does not do; kincit, anything, because he is endued with the realization of the actionless Self. [From the subjective standpoint of the enlightened there are no actions, but ordinary people mistakenly think them to be actions, which in reality are a mere semblance of it.] On the other hand, one who is the opposite of the above-mentioned one, (and) in whom, even before undertaking works, has dawned the realization of his identity with Brahman, the all-pervasive, inmost, actionless Self; who,being bereft of solicitation for desirable objects seen or unseen, has renounced actions along with their accessories, by virtue of seeing no purpose to be served by undertaking actions meant to secure some seen or unseen result, and makes effort only for the maintenance of the body, he, the monk steadfast in Knowledge, becomes free. Hence, in order to express this idea the Lord says:
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
4.20 See Comment under 4.21
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
karmany abhipravrtto ’pi
naiva kiñcit karoti sah
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
tyaktva — having given up; karma-phala-asangam — attachment for fruitive results; nitya — always; trptah — being satisﬁed; nirasrayah — without any shelter; karmani — in activity; abhipravrttah — being fully engaged; api — in spite of; na — does not; eva — certainly; kiñcit — anything; karoti — do; sah — he.