IIT Kharagpur: To know your real responsibility, know who you really are

Acharya Prashant
12 min readMay 21, 2022

The following is an excerpt from a samvaad (dialogue) session with Acharya Prashant.

Questioner (Q): We encounter these nodes in the path of our lives where we have to make decisions. The majority of us have a lot of duties associated with our life, and these duties also come with some demands associated with how we must act. For example, right now I am a student and I am a son. There are times when the duties associated with these identities conflict with each other. For example, should I act as a student here, or should I act as a son here? And this is something I feel is very important for us to learn: how to prioritize these duties. In essence, it is called dharma sankata, where you have multiple conflicting dharmas or duties, and you have to choose one of them. So, how exactly do we prioritize this?

Acharya Prashant (AP): May I know your name, please?

Q: Devang.

AP: Devang, duty is something you do. Responsibility is something you take seriously, you carry. So, your duties are related to who you are. Responsibility is something you bear: these are the things that you do. You say, “I am bearing my responsibilities, I am right now in the line of my duty.” So, this is something that you do.

Now, the basics, the absolute basics: Why must one do anything? Why are you right now talking to me? Why am I right now responding to you? Why do we study? Why do we eat? Why do we play? Why do we sleep? Why do we do anything? Why do we travel? Why do we shop? Why do we marry? Why do we earn? Why do we do anything? Because duties and responsibilities do come within the domain of doing, within the domain of actions; they are related to us. We are the actors and they are the actions.

Now, why do we act at all? Why do we do anything?

Q: Would you want me to respond to that?

AP: Yes, of course.

Q: Early on in my life, I have been inspired by the Bhagavad Gita a lot. Majority of the time, when I am acting, when I am doing something, it is based on the idea of niṣkāma-karma. I am not someone who is driven by the outcome of what I do. I am someone who usually figures out what his duties are and how to do justice to…

Acharya Prashant