śārīraḿ kevalaḿ karma
kurvan nāpnoti kilbiṣam
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 4.22
He who is satisfied with gain which comes of its own accord, who is free from duality and does not envy, who is steady in both success and failure, is never entangled, although performing actions.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
A Krishna conscious person does not make much endeavor even to maintain his body. He is satisfied with gains which are obtained of their own accord. He neither begs nor borrows, but he labors honestly as far as is in his power, and is satisfied with whatever is obtained by his own honest labor. He is therefore independent in his livelihood. He does not allow anyone’s service to hamper his own service in Krishna consciousness. However, for the service of the Lord he can participate in any kind of action without being disturbed by the duality of the material world. The duality of the material world is felt in terms of heat and cold, or misery and happiness. A Krishna conscious person is above duality because he does not hesitate to act in any way for the satisfaction of Krishna. Therefore he is steady both in success and in failure. These signs are visible when one is fully in transcendental knowledge.
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
No commentary by Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakur.
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
4.22 Content with whatever chance may bring for the maintenance of the body; ‘rising above the pairs of opposites’ means enduring cold, heat and such other experiences until one has completed the practice of Karma Yoga; ‘free from ill-will?’ i.e., free from ill-will towards others, seeing his own Karma as the cause of his adversity; ‘even-minded in success and failure,’ i.e., even-minded at success like victory in war, etc., and failure therein — such a person ‘is not bound,’ i.e., he does not fall into Samsara, though devoted to action without any exclusive practice of Jnana Yoga.
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
Completely content with what comes, unsought, by its own accord, patiently enduring all dualities such as success and failure, happiness and disappointment, free from elation and depression, not subject to jealousy and envy. Lord Krishna confirms that such a person is not bound to accept reactions even though performing actions, such actions being those actions exclusively that are prescribed in Vedic scriptures.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
The characteristics of one who has constrained their mind are being given by Lord Krishna, along with the method of transcending all dualities by being equipoised in all situations whether it is success or failure.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
This verse gives the keys to being free from reactions which leads to bondage in the material existence. If one performs all activities in this manner they will neutralise reactions to bodily actions but will still remain bound if there is still any affection for previous actions that are presently being renounced. To this Lord Krishna emphasises being content with whatever comes, unsought, by its own accord. Being satisfied in one’s mind with material things coming unexpected without the least desire or motivation for more and no effort to receive them. If one gets or does not get their mind remains equipoise in tranquility and never agitated by dualities such as success and failure, jubilation and sadness, triumph and disaster, elation and despondency, achievement and non-achievement. Such a spiritually enlightened being never performs an action that is devoid of a connection to the Supreme Being of all. Thus such a person situated in Vedic knowledge can never have a selfish motive or perform a selfish action; on the contrary even if such a person is requested to perform yagna or worship to the Supreme Lord on behalf of someone else and that person is blemished or tainted by material desires then even still one will not be affected by any reactions for performing such an activity to the Supreme Lord due to they are in knowledge.
Some explain in this verse that a yogi or one who developing their individual consciousness to be in communion with the ultimate consciousness after renouncing all desires and enjoyments, including even begging to sustain their physical sustenance should maintain themselves by accepting what comes unsought by its own accord and this insures that their actions become inaction and not subject to reactions. In the normal sense such a person appears to be begging to worldly people but in actual fact according to the injunctions of the Vedic scriptures this not the case and the actions of such a yogi are factually inaction. In this manner such a yogi performs activity for the maintenance of their body by only accepting what comes unsought by its own accord even though for society it appears as if one is begging. Also such a yogi incurs no negative results in the form of reactions by behaving so because all reactions leading to bondage are destroyed by the fire of knowledge. But this explanation does not fit in the context of this verse because of the flaw of being repetitive. This point was already established in the previous verse and actions like begging to maintain physical sustenance are factually no different from natural bodily management. So then the speaking of this verse would be superfluous and that is not the case. Also it is clear that if one takes this verse to refer to a yogi then there would be a contradiction in the succeeding two verses as well because in these verses the action of yagna or worship of the Supreme Lord is presented and a yogi is not entitled to perform any sacrificial rituals. Only the Vaisnavas and the Brahmins following the Vedic injunctions have the authority and are empowered to perform Vedic rituals. So it is not possible to properly explain the context of this verse in reference to a yogi because of impropriety and the correct understanding of this verse is in reference to a Vaisnava or Brahmin devotee of the Supreme Lord Krishna who is without desire and attachment and who is situated in atma tattva or soul realisation. This also applies to a Vaisnava or Brahmin devotee of any of Lord Krishna’s authorised incarnations and expansions.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
4.22 Yadrccha-labha-santustah, remaining satisfied with what comes unasked for-yadrccha-labha means coming to possess something without having prayed for it; feeling contented with that-. Dvandva-atitah,having transcended the dualities-one is said to be beyond dualities when his mind is not distressed even when afflicted by such opposites as heat and cold, etc.-. Vimatsarah, being free from spite, from the idea of enmity; and samah, equipoised; siddhau ca asiddhau, is success and failure, with regard to things that come unasked for-. The monk who is such, who is equipoised, not delighted or sorrowful in getting or not getting food etc. for the sustenance of the body, who sees inaction etc. in action etc., who is ever poised in the realization of the Self as It is, who, with regard to the activities accomplished by the body etc. in the course of going about for alms etc. for the bare maintenance of the body, is ever clearly conscious of the fact, ‘I certainly do not anything; the organs act on the objects of the organs’ (see 5.8; 3.28), he, realizing the absence of agentship in the Self, certainly does not do any actions like going about for alms etc. But when, abserving similarly with common human behaviour, agentship is attributed to him by ordinary poeple, then he (apparently) becomes an agent with regard to such actions as moving about for alms etc. However, from the standpoint of his own realization which has arisen from the valid means of knowledge presented in the scriptures, he is surely not an agent. He, to whom is thus ascribed agentship by others, na nibadhyate, is not bound; api, even; krtva, by performing such actions as moving about for alms merely for the maintenance of the body, because action which is a source of bondage has been burnt away along with its cause by the fire of wisdom. Thus, this is only a restatement of what has been said earilier. When a person who has already started works becomes endowed with the realization of the identity of the Self with the actionless Brahman, then it follows that in the case of that man, who has experienced the absence of agentship, actions and purposes in the Self, actions become relinquished. But if this becomes impossible for some reason and he continues to be engaged in those acitons as before, still he certainly does not do anything. This absence of action has been shown in the verse, ‘Having given up attachment to the results of action…’ (20). Of that very person with regard to whom has been shown the absence of aciton-
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
4.22 Yadrccha-etc. He does not get bound even when he acts : Here nibadhyate ‘gets bound’ is a usage of transitive verb with its object functioning as the subject. [Hence] the meaning is : The Self binds Itself by undertaking the dirt of mental impressions for fruits [of action]. Otherwise [the usage would amount to attribute] freedom of actions to the insentient in binding [the Self] – a proposition which is not a very happy one.
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
samah siddhav asiddhau ca
krtvapi na nibadhyate
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
yadrccha — out of its own accord; labha — with gain; santustah — satisﬁed; dvandva — duality; atitah — surpassed; vimatsarah — free from envy; samah — steady; siddhau — in success; asiddhau — failure; ca — also; krtva — doing; api — although; na — never; nibadhyate — becomes affected.