Karma Yoga can be defined as the ‘Yoga of action’ or ‘Yoga of active action.’ It means action without attachment to one’s actions. Karma Yoga should not be confused with selfless service.
Karma Yoga or the path of rightful action is one in which a person strives to surrender all of their human activity to the sublime will. It begins with the renunciation of all egoistic purposes of their works, of all undertakings of action out of egoistic interest or for the sake of a worldly result.
As per Karma Yoga taught in the Srimad Bhagavad Gita; serenity, renunciation of all desire for the fruit of our action, and action offered as a sacrifice to the sublime Lord of our nature and of all nature; are the three basic approaches to the Supreme Bhagavan. It is one of the three recommended Margas of paths to attain Moksha or salvation.
Swami Vivekananda said, “When you have trained your mind and your nerves to realise this idea of the world’s non-dependence on you or on anybody, there will then be no reaction in the form of pain resulting from work.” – Karma Yoga: The Yoga of action
Below are some selected Shlokas from the Srimad Bhagavad Gita, that can help a seeker understand Karma Yoga better. PLEASE DO READ THEM CAREFULLY AND PATIENTLY!
SBG 2:37 Either you will be killed in the battle and you will enter heaven or, you will win this battle and enjoy the kingdom on earth. Therefore arise and fight with resolution.
SBG 2:47 You have the right only to work but never to claim its results. The results of your actions should never be your motive but at the same time, let this not make you attached to inaction.
SBG 2:48 You have to be established in Yoga, O Arjuna. You have to do your duty without any attachment to its success or to its failure. This kind of equanimity is known as Yoga.
SBG 3.19 Therefore, always perform your duty or work unattached because the one performing work without attachment will certainly attain the Supreme.
SBG 3:20 Even Janaka and other kings attained perfection through action. You should perform action with the view of being of benefit to the people of the world.
SBG 3:30 Renounce all your works completely in me, with your mind with full knowledge of the Self and without expecting any benefits. Be clear of arrogance and laziness and fight.
SBG 4:15 Ancient people who sought liberation, performed actions based on this truth. Hence, you too should perform your duty in Supreme Consciousness.
SBG 5:02 Bhagavan Shri Krishna said: Renunciation and the Yoga of performing selfless action both lead to liberation. However, among the two, the Yoga of performing selfless action is superior to the Yoga of renunciation of action.
SBG 5:07 A person who is devoted to the path of selfless action, has a pure mind and a purified soul, has his body and senses under control, is compassionate to all living beings and sees his Self in them, although engaged in work, is never in bondage.
SBG 5:10 One, who dedicates all his actions to the Supreme Bhagavan and gives up all attachment to his works, is untouched by sin, just as a lotus leaf is by water.
SBG 5:19 Even here in this life, those who have their minds situated in equality and in equanimity, have conquered dualities, are flawless and are situated in the Ultimate truth.
SBG 5:25 Those whose sins have been destroyed, whose minds are clear of doubts, and are always engaged in working for the welfare of all living beings, achieve liberation and absorption in the Supreme Bhagavan or Brahman.
SBG 6:01 He who performs his obligatory duty unattached to the fruit of his work, is a Sannyasi and Yogi following the way to attain Ultimate Consciousness. He is not just someone who has merely renounced action.
SBG 6:07 The one who has conquered the mind has already reached Superconsciousness. Such a person has crossed all dualities such as cold and heat; pleasure and pain; honour and dishonour; and is always balanced, peaceful and steadfast in devotion.
SBG 8:07 Therefore, think of me at all times and do your duty of fighting the battle. With your mind and intellect offered to Me, you will certainly attain Me.
SBG 9:27 Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer in sacrifice, whatever you give, whatever you practise as austerity, O Arjuna, do it for Me and as an offering unto Me.
SBG 11:55 The one who is engaged in doing My work and considers Me The Supreme Goal; is free from contamination of the mind with previous activities and doubts; is free from attachment; has no enmity towards any creature, and is friendly with every living entity; certainly comes to me O Arjuna.
SBG 17:11 The sacrifice which is offered by people as taught in the Scriptures, without expecting any reward but with the faith to do it as a duty, is considered to be Sattvic or pure.
SBG 18:09 O Arjuna, an action that is done as a duty, giving up all attachment to the fruit of the action or desire for reward, is considered Sattvic.
SBG 18:66 Giving up all your ideas of righteousness or religion, take complete refuge in Me. I will liberate you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear.
There are countless Karma Yogis in the world who do their duty with utmost sincerity and dedication. However, the most popular and beloved one among them happens to be Shri Narendra Damodardas Modiji. He is truly who one of the greatest Karma Yogis, whose contemporary I am fortunate to be.
Jai Shri Krishna