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Practice of Karma Yoga: An effective Way for the Modern Man to Find Peace

 

कर्मण्यकर्म य: पश्येदकर्मणि च कर्म य: |
स बुद्धिमान्मनुष्येषु स युक्त: कृत्स्नकर्मकृत् ||

"Those who see action in inaction and inaction in action are truly wise amongst humans. Although performing all kinds of actions, they are yogis and masters of all their actions."

- Bhagavad Gita (Chapter - 4, Verse - 18)

The above verse seems quite contradictory, but if it is understood and absorbed in day to day lives properly, it can be the solution to many of the modern problems.

Ignorance of science of Karma: the cause of sorrow:

If any task in the world is to be successfully accomplished, it requires a particular skill. In the same way to live happily is also requires a skill. And that skill taught by Hindu scriptures is Karma Yoga. "योगकर्मसु कौशलम्" (Bhagavad Gita - 2.50) which means "Yoga is skill in work." This is the skill of living, the skill to get peace, the skill to succeed, the skill to attain spiritual heights and to attain salvation.

It is our misfortune that in the dark smoke of blind westernization, our eyes cannot find this basic principle laid down by our ancient seers. Due to this ignorance, even Arjuna was forced to throw his arms at the sight of his relatives on the other side even before the war of Mahabharata started.

There has to have a particular motive behind each work, and the end motive of each action is peace or bliss. This is common for everyone and no exception to it. From the world's richest man Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, to the last man living in slums, everyone works with the same motive. But look at the result of our skills, one suicide for every 40 seconds in the world and stressful life style. The misery of every human being is the basic consequence of not having the knowledge of ‘Science of Karma.

Science of Karma Yoga:

Here we have two words, ‘Karma’ and ‘Yoga’. Karma is any activity performed by a human being with full consciousness and with free will. Yoga literally means union of soul with Cosmic soul i.e. God. But in the context of Karma Yoga, it can be read as "the skill of action."

The results of each karma are found at three levels:

1.       The instant result. For example, one student helps another student to ride a bicycle. In this case, the instant result is that the other student now would be empowered to go to school on his own and buy things for home comfortably and many more such activities. This is instant result of the action.

2.       The second is the impression (Sanskar) produced on the mind. The impression depends on the motive behind the activity. Suppose that student helped the other one without expectation of any result. This will create a tendency in his mind to do more such selfless activities in future. So gathering of such impressions decide the future course of actions.

3.       The third is the fruit of karma. If that work is done with the intention of receiving any kind of  help if he needs in future, then according to Hindu scriptures he will have to suffer or enjoy that karma in future years or even in the upcoming births. But to exhaust the Karma is inevitable for anyone. Here the result is good, but for bad actions, he / she would have to bear bad result. There is no escape from this cosmic principle.

 

What is the way to do this karma skilfully or to break the cycle of Karma?

If karma is the cause of sorrow, should karma be altogether abandoned? The fact is one practically can never abandon any karma. Karma is impossible to avoid, even if the person lives alone in the foothills of the Himalayas. Remember, industriousness is life while idleness is death. The falling water of the lake also gets filthy, while the water of the flowing river is always pure and pleasant. In this way we too have to take the path of motion like a river. We have to plunge into action leaving all idleness.

The solution lies in connecting karma with spirituality. That is to abandon the ‘fruit of karma’. No matter how venomous a snake may be, if the venom is extracted from it, it cannot harm us. In the same way, if a deed is done without expecting a result, that deed can do no harm to us. The direct reason to that is, doing any activity with this attitude will never let any outside activity distract your internal poise.

On the other hand, for those who believe in spirituality, the desire for karma fala (the fruit of action) is the cause of the cycle of birth and death. If one expects the fruits of any kind of karma, good or bad, one has to be born again to enjoy the fruits and suffer again in this world. Here we are freed from this bondage by giving up the expectation of fruit and we catch the voyage of Moksha i.e salvation.

If the question arises, should there be no goal in life? Should there be no motive for any work? Remember, there has to have a goal, and to achieve that, we have to put our whole being into the work and let every particle of our body be oriented to achieve that goal. But the thing is that we don’t have to expect any kind result or fruit out of that action and should accept the result without any hesitation.

How can we drop the expectations of the fruit?

Working without expectation of fruit is a very difficult penance. There are two chief ways to attain that state.

The first and best remedy that Indians might have heard many a times from the elders in their house. That is, "Let the will of God be done", this is called surrender. We dedicate all our work and its fruit to God. For example, while taking care of the body we can feel that this body belongs to God and I am taking care of this God-given body. When we go out for some work, we may feel that, I am going out of home for God’s work, prostrate before the image of God before leaving home. And once we are back to home, we may again prostrate the God and dedicate the fruits of our action to Him, as we offer flowers at the altar of God. The great Kathakar in Gujarat, Shri Dongreji Maharaj says that, “Offering every deed to God purifies our mind and makes us stand face to face with God.

The second way would be to stand as a witness. Even those who do not believe in God can follow this path. In this way, the doer has to drop doership, that is, not to take any credit for the work done by him / her. Just like every ordinary human being, he has also has to make decisions and do all the required work, but by removing the poison of doership. He just has to stand as a witness to what is being done by him dropping the ego of doership and be unaffected by result of the action.

If any of the above two paths are followed which are laid down by Hindu Shastras, your mind will never be distracted by any external events, i.e. no happiness-sorrow or heat-rain can affect your mental poise and you will always have a happy mind also known as 'Sthitaprajna' in Bhagavad Gita. With this, you can climb the heights of spirituality and pave a way to salvation.

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