Karmayoga – explained

Arjuna:

Why should I fight O Krishna? Why don’t I just become a sage and go into ‘Maun Samadhi’ (state of silence)? I am asking you to show me the right way.

Bhagavan Krishna:

My dear Arjuna, people are of two kinds. They are the introverts and the extroverts. The introvert looks for the Supreme Being within himself. This is the path of knowledge, which is called Gnyaan Yoga. The extrovert looks for Him outside of himself. The extrovert steps out of himself and strives to achieve the goal. However, no one is free from action or Karma because even looking into oneself is action. Remember, there are only two ways which are the Gnyaan Yoga and Karma Yoga.

Arjuna:

Oh Krishna, in that case why don’t I take the Gnyaan Yoga or the path of knowledge?

Bhagavan Krishna:

(smiling) Arjuna, you will have to understand that Gnyaan Yoga does not correspond to the giving up of action. It is not the path towards fulfillment. This is because life is not possible without action. If you have eyes, they will certainly see; if you have eyelids, they will definitely blink; and if you have ears, they will definitely hear. The one who blocks his senses or suppresses them by force is not a Yogi, he is not a wise person but a charlatan. An enlightened person brings his senses under control instead of suppressing them. Such a person doesn’t live with his eyes closed. Without Karma or performing action, the journey of life is not possible at all. A person does need to breathe, doesn’t he Arjuna? If there is a sweet or bad scent in the air, the nose powerlessly perceives the smell. If there is any sound around the person, some music or any such thing, the ears do not wait for the person’s permission to hear, do they? Therefore, the righteous are the ones who keep their senses under control and show them the way to right action. They know their choices but they use their willpower. Arjuna, it is better to do one’s prescribed duties than not doing anything at all.

Eyes do see, but the power to decide what to see and what not to, rests with the wise person. Such a person does not give the unconditional power to his eyes, ears or legs to do whatever they want. This ability to make the right choice differentiates a wise person from an unwise one. Action is essential, because without it, even the maintenance of the body will not be possible. Arjuna, you should perform action the way wise people do.

Bhagavan Krishna:

Arjuna, do work the way you would perform a Yagnya or sacrifice. This is because Karma equals Yagnya done for the sake of the Supreme and Indestructible Brahman Himself. The path of Karma leads one directly to Brahman. The life of a person who does not contribute to the wheel of life becomes worthless. Do not go towards this worthlessness, O Arjuna. A person who thinks only about his own problems is a sinner. Therefore come out of this trap of illusion and recognise your own duties and fulfill them.

Dear Arjuna, the desire for results of work is an obstacle in the path. The desire for the fruit of action is like a stone tied on the neck of a person which does not let him rise from the bindings of his ego. This is the thing that cuts a person off from the society and pushes him into a quagmire of personal benefits and of harm.

The society is not in you Arjuna, you are in the society. Therefore, consider the well-being of the society to be your prime duty because whatever is good for the maintenance and the welfare of the society, will be good for you too. The action of yours which is for the welfare of the society, O Arjuna, it is the one through which you will attain fulfillment. Personal gains can only cause more selfishness and force a person to go astray. Arjuna, do not forget that you are a great person and since people usually follow great people, they will take you as a role model and follow your footsteps. Would you like them to learn selfishness from you?

 

Bhagavan Krishna:

Look at Me Arjuna.

Arjuna, I don’t need to do anything in the three worlds, nor is there anything that I want but I cannot acquire. Even then, I am before you. I am doing action Arjuna. I am trying to demonstrate that it is possible to fulfill life through Nishkaama Karma.

Ignorant people too perform action but they do so with selfish motives. The action done by a wise person is selfless. It is meant for the good of the world and for the welfare of the people. Therefore Arjuna, do not take the onus on you. Do your work for My sake and fight the battle. Even death while performing one’s duty is auspicious. Remember that even if you have to kill Pitamah Bhishma and your teachers or your relatives in this war, you will not be affected by sin simply because they are fighting in the side of evil. You are performing your duty and that does not create sin. One who performs his duty is always free from sin.

Arjuna:

But O Krishna, why is Dharma (righteousness) harmed at all?

Bhagavan Krishna:

Dharma is disturbed because man is not able to free himself from lust. He is not able to free himself from his ego and connect himself with the society. Arjuna, if this were not to be the case, the incident in the house of lac wouldn’t have happened, Draupadi wouldn’t have been humiliated in public and the Kauravas and you the Pandavas wouldn’t be standing here facing each other for battle.

Arjuna:

O Krishna, are You saying that I should not have been angry when Draupadi was being disrobed?

Bhagavan Krishna:

That is a decision which only you can take, Arjuna. However, the disrobing of Draupadi is not just a personal problem of yours, but it is a problem of the society. You did not do anything to protect Draupadi from humiliation. What can a person, who was quiet during the disrobing of the queen of Indraprastha – the daughter of king Drupada and the wife of the Pandavas, do anything to protect the honour of some ordinary woman from the society? The disrobing of Draupadi is a social problem O Arjuna, it is a serious social issue. It is your duty to battle against those evil forces who could violate the honour of a woman. These forces are enemies of the society, O Arjuna, and do not hesitate to fight against anyone who has come over here to fight on their side. Free yourself from your personal passions and anger, and work for the benefit of the society. This is your prime duty.

Look at Me O Arjuna – I have created this society along with its diversities based on Gunas and Karma but I never desired the fruit of creating this. That is why I am a non-doer even when I am the Doer. Whoever understands this secret of being a non-doer while performing action will never be entangled in Karma.


I have no desire for the fruit of my actions and that is why I am not bound by them. You too perform Nishkaam Karma or selfless action O Arjuna and never allow the shadow of your personal desires or selfishness to be cast upon them.

Arjuna, you need to understand what Karma, Akarma and Vikarma are.

Arjuna:

How are Karma, Akarma and Vikarma different from one another O Krishna?

Bhagavan Krishna:

Karma is Karma or action, but the Karma which is performed being free from desires is Akarma and whatever is not good for the doer or for the society is Vikarma and it is prohibited. Action is better than inaction and a doer is better than a non-doer.

A person whose every action is devoid of selfish desires, and whose actions are burned by the fire of knowledge is known to be a Pandit or a highly learned person. Such a person does not wait for the results of his actions, but proceeds towards his next work. The fire of his knowledge burns desire, anger, hatred, aspiration, gain, loss, happiness and sadness. It purifies his Karma thus making it Akarma and the doer becomes a non-doer. Apart from doing the things that are needed in order for him to live, he does not do anything for himself but only for the welfare of the society. This person is not affected by his own actions at all, because his life itself becomes a source of well-being of the society.

O sinless Arjun, this is how a person makes his life a Yagnya or sacrifice. You too turn your life into a Yagnya, put your desire for results of your action, lust and anger into the altar as offerings and burn them.

Arjuna:

O Krishna, how is that you praise both Karmayoga as well as Karmatyaaga (renunciation of action)?

Bhagavan Krishna:

The two do not cut across each other my friend and moreover, both are auspicious. But among the two it is Karmayoga that is superior.

Arjuna:

How is that and why is it so?

Bhagavan Krishna:

Whoever does work rising above hatred and aspirations, is anyway a Sanyasi. He is free from dualities and from all attachments. Therefore one who thinks that Karmayoga is different from Karmasanyaasa or renunciation of action is ignorant. Wise people never think so. Karmtyaaga or renunciation of action is nothing but giving up vested interests O Arjuna. Therefore without Karmayoga, Karmatyaaga cannot be achieved. A Karmayogi is always aware and perceives everything around him. However, he decides whether to see them or not, to hear them or not, to taste them or not, whether to stay awake or not, whether to take or not, whether to let go or not and whatever such a person does, is for the benefit of the society. That is why he is untouched by sin just as a lotus leaf is by water.

Perform your duty unattached to its fruit and have perfection in your work as your one and only goal.

Do your work as a sacrifice in the name of Bhagavan Krishna and you will be free from Karma.

Jai Shri Krishna