Duty First!

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Bhagwad Gita

Chapter 3 of the Bhagwad Gita is about ‘Karamyoga.’

The Discourse deals with the importance of keeping oneself engaged in an activity related to one’s duty. If further explains that no one can ever remain idle. You may not engaged in physical activity, but you can never make your mind stand still. The mind will always be engaged in some kind of activity even when you are sleeping. You may not be aware of this. But the mind never sleeps. Through out this chapter, in fact throughout the great wisdom book, it is emphasized that everyone must keep on performing their duty.


The western thoughts lay a lot of stress in the process of visualization. Some people may call it dreaming in the day. The best selling book ‘The Secret’ by Rhonda Byrne particularly stresses that you can achieve anything in life, if you repeatedly visualize the achievement. There lies the rub. You may be confused what is better? Which school of thought is more suitable? In fact, when Rhonda or any other thinker talks about visualization, they are not recommending to enjoy the pleasures of achievement mentally. And that is what Bhagwad Gita prohibits human beings – not to enjoy achievements mentally. The emphasis is on work. Likewise, western thinkers also lay emphasis on work. The repeated visualization is suggested only to reinforce your determination. Once you are determined to succeed, there is no stopping. You may have problems on the way, but you are bound to reach your goals sooner or later.


Napoleon Hill, author of the famous book, ‘Think and Grow Rich’, says, “The human mind can believe, The human mind can achieve.” Further he asks, “what do we mean by belief? Wishing won’t making it so….” A wish is not a belief.

Another great achiever, Steeve Jobs has been laying emphasis on implementing the ideas. According to him, thinking out-of-the-box is necessary, but putting it into practice is extremely important. About him it was said “he works from the gut and intuitively”.

Steven Covey

More recently, Steven Covey, author of the famous book, “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, advises everyone to be proactive. According to him, being proactive is the first habit which anyone who wants to progress should inculcate. He starts his chapter in this context with a beautiful quotation from Henry David Thoreau which reads as,

“I know of know more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious Endeavour.

To me it appears that all these great achievers were inspired by the above referred chapter of the Bhagwad Gita. In this regard, I had also written a poem called duty first which I am repeating below:

Duty First:

Row the boat of ‘duty’
Sail safely across the sea.
Search through your mind
What your duty can be.

Never is there a situation
Nor any circumstance
That could ever affect your intention
Of duty; you want to perform.

Hindrances, hurdles even hurricane
May hurt or shake your resolve.
With devotion to your duty;
Greater courage will evolve.

Duty first, always in mind
Greater joy; you will never find.

Thanks for reading!


One thought on “Duty First!

    mohit durge said:
    December 13, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    dear satish sir,
    the poem is beautiful. In the passages, you have mentioned about unfailingly performing ones duty, and then about great achievers and their views about conceptualization of a dream.
    But, aren’t achievement and duty a little incompatible? Isn’t an ambitious person too preoccupied to realise his duties? In the pursuit of ones achievement, will not a person fail to perform his duty? (or even fail to understand his duty?).
    mohit durge.

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