|Chapter 18||Final Revelations of the Ultimate Truth||Verse 47|
Rudra Vaisnava Sampradaya:
The reason Lord Krishna emphasises its better to perform one's own duty imperfectly then another's duty perfectly is because the defective performance of one's own duty is superior in merit to the performance of another's duty perfectly executed. This is to reinforce in Arjuna the futility of concocting any notions that living on alms as a mendicant beggar which is the duty of Brahmins is superior then his duty of fighting. Begging is not the path for him to take as it is inferior in terms of merit then fighting in battle and dispatching the enemy which is Arjunas natural duty. By following one's own natural path no sin is incurred.
Brahma Vaisnava Sampradaya:
Sri Vaisnava Sampradaya:
To adhere to one's own natural path of dharma or righteousness is what is being emphasised by Lord Krishna here. It is not as if one must follow the path of another. Everyone is entitled to perform those activities that are appropriate for their rank and station in life in constituting their propitiation to the Supreme Lord; but one must eliminate all sense of doership and desire for rewards. Such karma yoga or actions facilitating communion with the Supreme absolute expressed in visible activities which conform to the inherent nature of the individual manifest easily and naturally. Thus karma yoga performed in this manner is factually one's own path of dharma albeit destitute of merit. By another's dharma is meant jnana yoga or facilitating communion with the Supreme absolute by knowledge which depending on time and circumstance may or may not be helpful. Perfection in jnana yoga demands the consistent ability to completely control the mind and conquer the senses which is a lifetime endeavour and fraught with danger of lapses in constancy. So karma yoga is more fortuitous as the risks are minimal and chances for succeeding are greater even though jnana yoga is on a superior platform. A jiva or embodied being ensconced in a physical body with an appropriate mind and senses finds it normal to act in accordance with the natural impulses instigated by the senses. This is karma yoga and fulfilling activities in this manner if they do not contradict the injunctions of the Vedic scriptures or disregard the prohibitions thereof incur no sin, for actions speak for themselves. Whereas in jnana yoga once control of the mind and mastery of the senses has been achieved they must be kept controlled and mastered otherwise one will fall down from their position and subjected again to mundane desires and the influence of objects the senses which propels one to sin and locks one in samsara the perpetual cycle of birth and death. So by clearly elucidating the fact that karma yoga is indeed safer and more sure of success, Lord Krishna further corroborates what He previously had promulgated in chapter three.
Kumara Vaisnava Sampradaya:
Because the natural propensity inherent within is always accurate it behoves one to perform prescribed Vedic activites unto the Supreme Lord as this leads to the highest perfection. Such activities should be performed consistently for securing one's own best interests. This Lord Krishna alludes to with the sreyan meaning better for it is better to perform one's own duty with the intention to propitiate the Supreme Lord even if devoid of merit or deficient in some way; it is still superior to performing the duties of another even if done exemplary. The performance of duties not sanctioned for one in the Vedic scriptures is risky and fraught with danger is susceptible to sin; but in the performance of one's own natural prescribed duty no sin is incurred.