IV:17 Doing the Right Thing

We have been taught that we must always do the right thing, and that if we don’t, what we are doing is wrong. But right and wrong may not always be what we think. 

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 4 

One must understand the nature of action, inaction and wrong action. The way of action is profound and difficult to understand.

In the previous verse we discussed action and inaction, and now a third form of action is being introduced:

“Wrong action”
What is wrong action? We have been taught that we must always do the right thing, and if we don’t, what we are doing is wrong. But right and wrong may not be as black-and-white as we have been led to believe, so ‘wrong action’ may not be quite what we think.

Wrong action might be anything from robbing a bank to telling a little white lie, or any other action that is contrary to the Real You as represented by the yamas and niyamas. The yamas and niyamas are ten principles that describe you in your indwelling state of divinity. This is why acting in alignment with them causes things to go more smoothly and produces the best results. With their mastery, success in your undertakings is inevitable. Acting contrary to them, failure is inevitable, now or later, and are therefore ‘wrong’, or ‘incorrect’.

Also, in the previous verses, we learned that correct action is performed when not identifying oneself as the doer of action, which is accomplished when there is no self-motivated purpose. Action performed in any way other than this would also be incorrect action. I refer you to the previous post on The Mystery of Action and an earlier post, What is Attachment?.

There is yet another way to understand what the word for ‘wrong action’ could mean. The word in Sanskrit for ‘action’ is karma. The word for ‘inaction’ is karma preceded by an ‘a‘, giving us  akarma, ‘inaction’. The word for wrong action is karma preceded by ‘vi‘, giving us vikarma. The first definition of ‘vi‘ is ‘birds’, so this gets interesting…

Vi‘ has its source in ‘dvi‘, meaning ‘two’, and refers to the two birds atop the Tree of Life that fly away in different directions, implying the dual nature of the mind (the top of the tree). So, for starters, we can contemplate that. One usage of ‘vi‘ is therefore ‘opposition’, which could lead us to something else altogether…

Other definitions of ‘vi‘ are, not surprisingly, ‘in different directions’ and ‘away from’ (remember the birds?), and gives a meaning of ‘opposite-direction action’, or ‘reverse action’. But what can that possibly mean?

Karma Yoga

Think back to Karma Yoga (chapter three). We learned that the first phase of this yoga is hatha yoga, ‘sun-moon union’. Sun energy is warming and moves upward in the body, and moon energy is cooling and moves downward, but when they unite as one at the base of the spine, they begin to function in an accelerated evolutionary capacity. We call this kundalini. Kundalini’s function is to transform the being to his or her natural state of perfection.

With sufficient progress in hatha yoga (‘sun-moon union’), one will reach a certain stage in which the moon energy (apana), the downward flowing life energy, reverses direction and flows upward with the sun energy (prana). This is vikarma, ‘reverse-direction action’, as told in the story of the royal couple, Rama and Sita in the Ramayana. In this story, Rama (prana) has to go south (down) where Sita (apana) is being held captive by Ravana, the ten-headed demon (desires), and rescue her, after which they go north (up) together, and a new phase of sadhana begins: Raja Yoga (royal union).

To the onlooker, vikarma appears wrong because the onlooker believes that moon energy must always flow downward. But the onlooker is attached to things that make it necessary for the life energy to flow downward, thus stalling the full functioning of Kundalini.


  1. Not acting in harmony with the truth of how you really are
  2. Being identified with nature
  3. The reversal of the normally downward flowing life energy in the body

So what is the right thing to do? Do we contain ourselves and try to keep away from the ‘good things in life’? become isolated hermits? renounce everything that comes to us that brings pleasure and enjoyment? No. Enjoy what comes to you. Allow yourself to experience pleasant and enjoyable things. The trick is to not get addicted to them so that you end in chasing after them. And there is a pay-off for this:

The more you don’t chase after desirable things, the more they will come to you of their own accord. They are the gifts of the gods.

Yogeshwar used to say, “God is not a cheat.” This is true. You can trust this. You can trust God.

Namaste (I bow to the Divine One that You really are),
Durga Ma

Your Tax-deductible Donations are very much appreciated. They make it possible for me to do this work for you, which gives me great joy. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I do not work elsewhere for a living, but have devoted my life fully to yoga sadhana and sharing this wonderful adventure with others. If everyone reading these blogs sent $5 a month, SKY Haven would become a reality.

Acquiring the experience needed to understand “action as it was performed by the ancients” begins with shakitipat diksha followed by a special practice that is not commonly known. I call it Shaktipat Kundalini Yoga, or Surrender Meditation.

Music for Relaxation, Meditation & Rejuvenation


4 thoughts on “IV:17 Doing the Right Thing

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