Karma Yoga – The Path of Action (Blog 40)

Karma Yoga – The Path of Action (Blog 40)

Continued from the previous…

Action is a physical necessity as well as a moral obligation of every human being. Without action, one cannot even maintain his physical body. The individual and the creation depend upon each other for survival. The universe progresses smoothly because of the co-operation between beings and the nature. The wheel of life is thus set in motion. He who does not help in turning this wheel of life, and works only for himself ; lives in vain. It has thus been recommended that all work must be done in the spirit of karma yoga, for the betterment of life.

Karma yoga is a spiritual practice the aim of which is to gain knowledge of the self, one’s true nature. Not being attached to actions  and their results, an aspirant for karma yoga performs his duties with an equanimous mind. Equanimity of the mind helps one in subduing his likes and dislikes ; and controlling the incessant desires. Instead of being a slave of his likes and dislikes, and a victim of his impulses ; one is constantly guided by his buddhi, the understanding. Steadfast in the inner composure, such a practitioner of karma yoga works with perfect serenity. As a result, his mind becomes more and more pure. A pure and tranquil mind is receptive to learning. It then becomes easier for one to attain the knowledge of the self. That is why it has been stated that all works culminate in wisdom, knowledge of the self. In other words, karma yoga ultimately leads to gyana, realisation  of the self.

An aspirant of karma yoga understands that rewards of his efforts are granted by Ishvara, the Supreme Lord. Whatever he gets, he accepts it gracefully, gladly and with an attitude of gratitude. He is not distressed even under worst of the circumstances. He does the work expected of him without being perturbed by the events in his life or in the world at large. By establishing such a relationship of trust with the Divine, he feels relaxed and free from fear. He attains Ishvara as he performs action only for His sake. He becomes one with the Supreme Lord because truth of the self is not different from the truth of the Supreme Lord.

Endowed with knowledge of the self, one transcends in this very life, both good and evil. One remains ever engaged in doing his assigned work, even while his mind rests in the Supreme.

The one who fails to do the work which he ought to do, not only looses his worldly glory but also incurs sin against God. But the one who treating pleasure and pain, gain and loss, victory and defeat alike ; undertakes the assigned work with an equanimous mind, he does not suffer any adverse consequences. To work for a right cause is an opportunity that empowers one to attain the spiritual freedom. Whether one looks at his prescribed duty from the metaphysical angle or as a social responsibility, it is a privilege which enables one to rise higher and higher.

Work by itself does not bind. What binds is not the action but the selfish attitude towards it. The attitude towards work is as important as the work itself. The question not only is what one does, but also why he does it. What is the motive behind his actions. Therefore, it has been emphasised that every action must be performed with a right attitude. Fulfilment of one’s duties should be treated as worship of Ishvara. Whatever work one is engaged in, should be dedicated to Him. And whatever results one gets must be accepted gladly, as blessings from Him alone. Work done in such a spirit of total surrender to God becomes a yagya. And the work done in the spirit of a yagya can never be a source of bondage.

It has been declared that by performing action in the spirit of karma yoga, one can free himself from the bondage of works. It needs to be clarified here that work or action with reference to karma yoga does not mean any different or special type of activity. Whatever situation one is placed in, he has some duties and responsibilities towards himself, his family, his vocation and the society at large. Moreover, an individual is not merely a social being. He is also blessed with a spiritual destiny. Accordingly, he has certain duties towards his creator, the Supreme Lord. All these kinds of duties are his kartavya karma, the works which he ought to do. Discharging these duties with enthusiasm and accepting the results with grace is the crux of karma yoga.

No one is endowed with all the qualities. Someone may be suited to a particular type of work and someone else can be suitable for some other kind of job. One’s duties are in consonance with his physical and mental make-up. Gita proclaims that it is far better to carry out one’s own duty even imperfectly than doing another’s work perfectly. One must do his own duty faithfully even unto death because trying to do the work of others is fraught with danger. One must do his duty with full sincerity, howsoever distasteful or apparently insignificant the work may seem to be.

To be Continued…

Vijay Singal

Vijay Singal, a former bureaucrat, is an eminent author in the field of spirituality, philosophy, psychology and religion. He writes both in Hindi and in English. His first book 'Behind Psychology : Searching for the Roots' was published in the year 2002. Since then, he has authored many books on various subjects.

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