KARMA YOGA & ITS INFLUENCE IN DAILY LIFE
By DIVYA SUBRAMANIAM
Karma yoga is undoubtedly one of the most practiced of the many yoga in the Hindu religion. Unlike hatha-yoga which primarily concentrates on the physical well-being of a human, or bhakti-yoga which aims for a spiritual realization of God, karma-yoga joins both the physical and mental aspects of Hindu philosophy to produce a single concept.
The word Karma is derived from the Sanskrit Kri, to do; all action is Karma. Technically, this word also means the effects of actions. The word karma refers to results of past actions, present actions, and actions we will perform in the future.Karma from the viewpoint of the law of causation:
1-Sanchitha karma: Accumulated works or past actions
2-Prarabdha karma: This is the present action: what you are doing now, in this lifetime and its result.
3-Kriyamana karma: Future actions that result from your present actions.
Karma yoga is union of action. It is defined as any action performed with meditative awareness. Karma yoga can be performed in three ways:
1-Kayalka: physical deed
2-Vachika: oral action
3-Manasika: Mental deed
Sri Krishna’s Karma Yoga
It was a path taught by Krishna to his disciple, Arjuna, in the historic spiritual scripture, the Bhagavad Gita. The essence of his Karma Yoga teachings were that one must participate in the world, performing their proper activities without attachments to the outcome (positive or negative) while all the while devoting themselves to the path of union with the Divine. Therefore, the term “self-less service” doesn’t necessarily imply free work for others—it is doing the work intended for you without any longing for the fruits of this work for the “self.” This is extremely difficult not only because it is our conditioning to be attached to the benefits for me, I, myself but determining what are proper activities and what are not proper activities takes being deeply in tune with one’s intuition or self.
Gita verses on karma yoga:
Do your duty to the best of your ability, O Arjuna, with your mind attached to the lord, abandoning worry and selfish attachment to the results, and remaining calm in both success and failure. The calmness of the mind is called karma yoga. (2.48)
Working to the best of one’s abilities without becoming selfishly attached to the fruits of worl is called karma yoga. (2.50)
A karma yogi whose mind is pure, whose mind and senses are under control, and who sees one and the same eternal being in all beings, is not bound by karma though engaged in work. (5.07)
INFLUENCE OF KARMA YOGA IN DAILY LIFE
Traditionally, a yogi would renounce the world and live in a community setting like an ashram or monastery. They would dedicate their lives to spirituality, yoga, meditation and serving others. Yogis were not socialites by any measure. This is perhaps the biggest difference between the mystics of past and the newly emerging urban mystics of our time. We are living full-fledged social lives with jobs and a family. We do not need to renounce our family, career and material possessions to make a difference.
We can make a difference by practicing Karma yoga, which means “right action with right attitude.”
There is a misconception that in order to be a Karma Yogi, one has to perform a grand gesture. However Karma Yoga is as simple as conscious breathing. So, here are six simple ways to practice Karma Yoga on a daily basis:
- Self-serve– If you want to change the world, start at home, with yourself. When you live your life with awareness, you carve a path to nourish the universe that eventually nourishes you. Being kind to ourselves and taking care of ourselves is not selfish but rather critical. If you are not healthy and peaceful, you can’t help others.
- Be genuine– Bring your authentic self to the table. The more people start being genuine in every relationship, the more kindness will be shared and the fewer hearts will be broken.
- Respect nature– We take nature and its resources for granted, often to the point of exploitation. Growing up in a developing country with limited access to clean water has made me cautious of the amount of resources I use on a daily basis. Next time you leave that tap running while brushing your teeth, think about those with no drinking water who share the same world.
Contribute – Contribution not only means donating money or your time for volunteer activities. While these are great, the world can also benefit from us just being human. Just being there and listening to someone (be it family or your doorman) who is having a bad day is also a contribution. Similarly, helping an elderly person carry groceries is also a contribution – a huge one!
- Practice compassion– On a daily basis we come across people who are constantly agitated and rude. They might cut you off in a line, honk at you for driving too slow or even abuse you for no reason. One can never really know what the other person is going through. So rather than showing off anger or any negative reactions, try to practice some compassion. A smile can make a huge difference.
- Positive attitude– Practice being positive on a daily basis. It’s contagious!
By doing selfless actions Humility, pure love, sympathy, tolerance and mercy will be developed. The sense of separateness will be annihilated. Selfishness will be eradicated. You will get a broad and liberal outlook on life. You will begin to feel oneness and unity. Eventually you will obtain knowledge of the Self. You will realize “One in all” and “all in One”. You will feel unbounded joy. The world is nothing but a manifestation of God. Service of humanity is service of God. Service is worship.
Who are karma yogis?Karma yogis are those men and women who devote their lives to enjoying harmony internally, and in self-realization enjoy happiness in their daily life now and in future incarnations. Anyone can be a karma yogi, it is not just a lifestyle for monks.
A householder, a family person, can be a karma yogi by dedicating all their service to the good of their family. The food they eat, sleep time, housing, everything supporting their family life is rightfully theirs to enjoy because the ultimate benefits go to the family, not just the individual acting.
Karma yogis imbue practical spirituality in action, it is a pathway to realizing God in this very lifetime.
Karma yoga seems not so much a practice familiar only to Hindu religion. Its basic and logical nature appears almost a science, which if studied in detail, allows one to make progressions towards a destiny of selfless, spiritual personal harmony.
When we give all our energy rightfully
we get all that really matters
We get harmony, peace, joy
Words of the Gita: Samniyamyendriyagramam sarvatra samabuddhayah te prapnuvanti mameva sarvabhutahite rataah.
“Restraining and subduing the senses, regarding everything equally, in the welfare of all rejoicing, these also come to Me.” Gita: Chapter XII-4.
Treating pleasure and pain, gain and loss, victory and defeat alike, engage yourself in your duty. By doing your duty this way you will not incur any karmic bondage. (2.38)
FUNDAMENTALS OF YOGA