What is Karma Yoga |Principles Of Karma Yoga |Types Of Karma Yoga |Benefits Of Karma Yoga:
What is Karma?
Karma means “activity”. Activity always comes with the consequence of the process. The law of karma is the law of action and reaction, illustrated by the well-known saying “what we reap is what we sow”. Understand how this law applies in life, helps us to spiritualize our life and progress.
Kinds of Karma:-
There are three kinds of Karma which are Present, Past, Future Karma.
The three are inter-related and can be summed up thus:
The present karma is the result of the past karmas, and is our attitude to the past, and will determine our future karmas.
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What is Karma Yoga?
It is a way of undoing the impressions that you have gathered. Generally, it is through various activities that you perform that you get entangled and enmeshed with life. When you do something only because it is needed, where it does not mean anything to you but you are capable of involving yourself as if that is your life, it transforms you and action become liberating. The idea is to spiritualize our life and our actions in order to be free.
The problem is that we are very attached to our actions and our works; we constantly identify with our actions and take pride in what we are doing.
Our ego is very much invested in our talents, skills, knowledge, and activities. It takes detachment towards our actions in order to see ourselves and our actions in a different light.
Karma is the core of human life. When compared with Dnyanyoga (Path of Knowledge) and Bhakti yoga (Path of Devotion), Karma-yoga is associated more with practical life. Karma–yoga meaning is described as follows.
कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन ।
– Shrimadbhagwadgeeta, Adhyaya 2, Shloka 47
In this blessing of Shrikrushṇa lies the essence of Karma–yoga.
Karma-yoga also teaches that even after God-realization, instead of renouncing karma, the activity of drawing society towards sadhana (Spiritual practice) has to continue.
- The word Karma-yoga is a combination of two words – karma and yoga. It means, seeking yoga (Union) through the medium of karma, that is, the union of the jiva (Embodied soul) with Shiv (God Principle), which further means attaining Moksha (Final Liberation) through the medium of karma. It means, ‘an activity which will not create any new impressions on the subconscious mind that have the potential to entrap into bondage and which will not increase the account of merits and demerits or create new bondage of any kind around the soul, is called karma in context of the word Karma–yoga. (That which bestows Moksha is known as ‘knowledge’). Consistently performing such karma is termed as karma–yoga.
- Not performing desire fulﬁlling karmas and performing Nitya animistic-karmas (Karmas such as ritualistic worship, vowed religious observances, etc.) Without any expectations of any fruit is Karma–yoga.
- योगः कर्मसु कौशलम् ।- Shrimadbhagwadgeeta, Adhyaya 2, Shloka 50
Performing karma with an intellect devoid of any expectations, so as not to get affected by the fruit of karma. Only when there is no fruit of karma, an individual is liberated from bondage.
- A Path that provides knowledge on why man performs karma, why karmas entrap in bondage, how to perform karmas without getting entrapped in bondage, which are the karmas that liberate a man from worldly bondage (that of Maya [The Great Illusion]).
- When our tendencies gradually change from Tama-predominant to Raja-predominant and then get stabilized in Sattva, and further culminate in bhav (Spiritual emotion), our penance becomes special. This itself is called Karma–yoga.
Synonyms of Karma-Yoga:-
- Narayaniya Dharma:-Shrivishnu is constantly engaged in some karma. Hence, Karma–yoga is also called the ‘Vaishnav Dharma’ or ‘Narayaniya Dharma’. (‘Narayan’ is one of the Names of Shrivishnu). – Mahabharat, Shanti Parva, 339 – 66.67 and 340 – 44.45
- Path of karmasanyas (Path of Smart)The Path of Smart means Path advocated by the Smrutis. Traditionally, however, it has come to be known as the Path of karmasanyas (Renunciation of karma).
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Karma and Karma-Yoga:-
Karma-yoga means to keep performing that karma which will result in our spiritual growth, and thereby we will eternally be associated with Brahman or God. In short, getting liberated from the cycles of birth and death through the medium of action is Karma–yoga. Karma is kriya dependent, while Karma–yoga is independent of kriya. This means Karma–yoga is not the mere performance of karma. Practising Karma-yoga is the elimination of the defects within us like anger, lust, greed, etc.
योगयुक्तो विशुद्धात्मा विजितात्मा जितेंद्रिय: |
सर्वभूतात्मभूतात्मा कुर्वन्नपि न लिप्यते || – Shrimadbhagwadgeeta, 5.7
Meaning: The one who performs karmas with devotion, who has conquered the five senses and the mind, is dear to all and all are dear to him. Even though he performs karmas continuously yet he does not get entangled in it, that is, he is free from the bondage of karmas.
- If there is no Mishkan-bhav in the practice of Karma–yoga, then it is merely karma and not Karma–yoga: In Karma-yoga, just Mishkan-bhav is important. Anything other than Mishka-bhav is not Karma–yoga at all. It is merely karma. There is no Yoga involved here. Such karma has no connection with Yoga.
- Karmas from Karma–yoga are not just any karma, they are those specified in the Vedas: In the present age, the Sanskrit phrase ‘योग: कर्मसु कौशलम् |’ is interpreted as ‘Expertise in performing karma is Karma–yoga’. The modern people feel that performing any karma expertly is by itself Karma–yoga. What then is the need to perform karma recommended by Vedas, they reason? Be it non-Vedic karma or prohibited karma, having expertise suffices. That itself is Karma–yoga! However, what does Shrikrushna say about it? ‘कर्म ब्रह्मोद्भवं विद्धि’ meaning, karma originates from Brahman and Brahman means the Vedas. It simply means that karma advised by the Vedas is karma specified by Karma–yoga and that precisely is Karma–yoga.
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- Performing karmas expertly that are not mentioned in the scriptures, is not the intent of the Karma–yoga: That which does not create bondage to karma is Yoga. Karma prescribed by the scriptures should be performed with such expertise that no kriyaman-karma is generated. Yoga is not meant for performing karma expertly that finds no mention in the scriptures. (Performing prohibited karmas like drinking, smoking, etc. in a stable state of mind is not Yoga). Yoga is meant for attaining Mukti (Liberation). A pleasant state of the Antahkarana is the visible consequence of Yoga.
Principles Of Karma Yoga:-
There are 4 major principles of karma yoga:-
- Work:- Everybody has duties in life. Some duties are given to you, you don’t have a choice, for example, your duty as a citizen, as a member of society, as a son/daughter, as a brother/sister, etc. Other duties you choose yourself, for example, your duty as an employer, as a husband/wife, as a friend, etc. In Karma Yoga, it is important to prioritize your duties; to know what is most important and which duty you should give more importance over others.
It is important to realize that the highest duty you can have is the duty towards yourself. This means that you should first take care of yourself, do what is good for you and then only you can do what is good for others. For example, let’s say you are ill and lying in bed. You should rest so you get better soon but late in the night, you get a call from a friend saying he feels lonely and he wants your company. Even though it is your duty as a friend to support your friend who needs company, at that time it is more important to take care of yourself and to get better before you can help your friend.
It is also important to fulfil your duty at your best. For example, if you are given a room to clean, you don’t clean it very well because no one is watching or you think what you get paid for it is very less. Another example can be when your employer asks you to do something at work you have 2 options: you can do what he asks, nothing more, nothing less. You could have done it better and more detailed but because your working day was almost over you quickly finished the work and went home.
- Ego:- Ego is all the ideas you have about yourselves or others. It includes our likes, dislikes, desires, etc. With every action we do we tend to think about the consequences for ourselves; how does it affect ourselves, our image, etc. Sometimes a person thinks he needs some ego in order to perform better and grow. It makes us see what we want to see and stops us from seeing reality. It controls our perception and understanding.
- Connection:- Whether you like your duty or not, you still do it your best. You do your duty without any attachment for example if you are a teacher you don’t teach one student better than because you like him more. You always perform your duty without the involvement of any kind of attachment to the process or result
- The expectation of reward:- When we do something we rarely do it without expecting something back. For example, at the office, we do our work because we get a salary at the end of the month or for the praise or position. We take care of our partner or child, but we expect love and appreciation in return. When you do something without the expectation of reward, the outcome of your action doesn’t affect if and how you do your duty.
- Think Well:- Having the right attitude towards work makes all the difference. Consider work as worship, and remember that how you do the job does not matter, but the attitude with which you carry it is what counts more. Try to consciously avoid negative qualities like aggression, fear, and jealousy and imbibe positive qualities like discipline and patience.
- Give Your Best:- When you are doing something, give it you’re all. Bring forth the best of your abilities and utilize them in the activities you do. Do not hold yourself back because of fear, the effort required, or you are scared of the criticism it will generate. Do not be concerned with who is watching you. Reap maximum positivity from the work you do and minimize negativity.
- Forgo The Results:- Work for the sake of it without thinking of the effects it will reap. Do not be bothered with the results, whether they are good or bad. What is important is how well you perform the task and your dedication towards it. Remember, no job is superior to another. And, most importantly, do not be attached to your job. You should be able to give it up easily when needed.
- Serve All:- Treat others how you want to be treated. Love the people around you and be accommodative of them. Interact with them and understand their thoughts and ideas without judging them. Realize that all of us are one and part of the same universe. Universal energy binds us all. Be humble. Adjust and adapt to situations without being averse to change.
- Be Disciplined:- Every job you do needs a particular skill set. Recognize that and imbibe those qualities. With each job, the requirement of each of these qualities varies. Do the job you have got well and learn something from it.
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Benefits Of Karma Yoga:-
- Karma Yoga purifies your heart.
- It makes negative feelings like ego, hatred, and jealousy disappear.
- It will inculcate good qualities like love, humility, and tolerance.
- This path will make you look at life in a broader and more liberal manner
- It will make you aware of yourself and feel bliss
- It will help you forgo selfishness.
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