Continued from the previous …….
Bhagavad Gita distinguishes between true karma and ritualistic rigmarole. Those who follow the scriptures more in letter than in spirit worry excessively about acquisition of material rewards in this life and in future lives. Thus, they remain tied with various ritualistic observances. But for a karma yogi, these practices are of little value. He renounces all selfish desires and offers his works to the Supreme, with utmost devotion. He accepts whatever comes his way, with an attitude of gratitude.
Krishna has advocated action without attachment. At the same time, he has cautioned against superficial control over activities and a false sense of detachment. It has been stated that he who regulates his organs of action outwardly, even while thinking of pleasures of objects of the senses, only cheats himself. He is a hypocrite. But the one who brings, through the mind, all his senses under control and engages the organs of action, without any attachment, on the path of selfless service, is a great man. The true spirit of detachment is when one not only restrains his outward activities, but also manages the desires which impel those actions.
Gita has further recognised the fact that sometimes it becomes very difficult to determine as to what is the appropriate action in a particular situation. But the one who has gained knowledge of the self, through the practice of karma yoga, does not suffer from any such confusion. He gets a clearer and a broader vision as his soul becomes a transparent channel of the Divine wisdom. He corresponds to a mirror reflecting the will of the Supreme. Through his illumined intelligence, he comes to know as to which action is in harmony with the cosmic purpose and, therefore, the right action. He can, then, easily decide as to, in the given circumstances, what work must be done and what work must be avoided. Spiritual realisation prompts ethical action.
Distraction is natural to human mind. Thoughts of anyone are scattered and endless. But those who traverse the path of karma yoga have firm determination and a clear goal. Having a resolute intellect, they focus on the goal with single-minded attention. Instead of worrying about favourable or unfavourable results, they concentrate only on doing a good job. They put in their best efforts and then leave the results to the will of the Divine. By preserving inner composure and paying proper attention to the work in hand, they certainly get better rewards.
Though engaged in all kinds of activities, the one who takes refuge in Ishvara, the Supreme Lord ; he reaches by His grace, the eternal and imperishable abode of the Divine. When one surrenders himself completely to the Supreme Lord, the individual consciousness expands itself to the vastness of the undifferentiated and timeless consciousness. In such a state of being, no one can think of doing any evil deed. Considering himself to be only an instrument in the hands of Ishvara, whatever one does, he does it for the great cosmic purpose of the Divine.
Attainment of perfection in karma yoga does not imply abandonment of work. The one who has realised the self through the practice of karma yoga, the freed soul, remains active even after becoming aware of his true nature. Instead of being prompted by any selfish desire, the actions of a perfected being are governed by his immortal self. As his sense of separateness gets eradicated, he works without the egoistic will. He surrenders himself to the will of the Supreme. Outwardly his conduct is the same as that of any other person. But inwardly he is fixed in purity, free from the dualities like pleasure and pain. As he has nothing to gain or loose by action or non-action, he works only for furtherance of the purpose of God. His actions are accompanied by inner joy and peace.
Krishna has specifically urged the learned, men of knowledge, to work in the spirit of karma yoga, for the betterment of the world. Their responsibility is more because common people always follow the great men in their footsteps. Instead of mere preaching, they have been called upon to set high standards of behaviour. They must lead by example. As the ignorant people work only from attachment to their work, similarly the learned should act without attachment, just for the benefit for the common masses. It has also been assured that one can certainly attain spiritual perfection by selflessly serving the society.
To conclude, karma yoga is that path of spiritual evolution which exhorts man to work without any attachment to the actions and their results. An aspirant for karma yoga dedicates all his actions to Ishvara and accepts all the results gladly, with a sense of gratitude. For him, unselfish performance of his duties is worship of the Supreme Lord. Karma yoga purifies the mind and enables one to realise his true nature. As a result, even amidst intense activity, one can experience inner peace and spontaneous joy. In other words, karma yoga is that manner of doing things which frees one from all stresses and strains.