“Perform work in this world, Arjuna, as a man established within himself – without selfish attachments, and alike in success and defeat. For yoga is perfect evenness of mind.” – Bhagavad Gita
Krishna says these words to Arjun before the epic battle of Mahabharata, explaining him the significance of Karma Yoga. From that era to this, in current times, the word, karma is often used and heard in a conversation. I would rather say, it has become a basis to judge, understand and even relate to others, especially in the spiritual fraternity. Understanding just the superficial meaning and significance of karma yoga, many schools have added it in its course curriculum. But the term has been emphasized upon time and again by various leaders, gurus and gods. Although over the years we have failed to understand its true meaning.
As mentioned in Bhagvat Gita, Krishna said, “The meaning of Karma is in the intention. The intention behind action is what matters. Those who are motivated only by desire for the fruits of action are miserable, for they are constantly anxious about the results of what they do…. You have the right to work, but never to the fruit of work. You should never engage in action for the sake of reward, nor should you long for inaction.” These words beautifully explain, what is Karma Yoga.
What is Karma Yoga?
Karma means ‘to do’ and all the actions we are doing today are a part of our karma. Based on our actions, we get results. That is to say, good karma reaps good results and vice-a-versa with the bad ones. Yoga, on the other hand means to unite the mind, body and soul with practice and perseverance. When it comes to Karma Yoga, as mentioned above, it is the practice of performing one’s daily activities with diligence and dedication without thinking of the outcome of the action. It is a rulebook on how our day-to-day activities should be conducted and our duties attached to it.
With a pure intention, any act done will reap great benefits, but when it is done with a hope to get positive points in your karmic account that is when it backfires. For example, doing an act of charity by helping the needy is a great act, but when this act is done with a desire to get good karma and wash away the sin, it is said that half of the benefits of the good karma are washed away.
Why is it the significance of Karma Yoga?
In the current scenario, which is the Kali Yuga (the age of vice) the humanity is witnessing ego at its pinnacle. The fully emerged form of ego is leading to bloodshed, depression, misery, treachery, jealousy and we are standing at the brink of third world war. In the midst of all this, Karma yoga is like a game changer. It balances us in all respects. Instilling the feeling of love and compassion towards others and creating awareness about one’s personal actions and its consequences, is a great way to help people stabilize and find love. The charities and good deeds are conducted today with the motive of earning good karma or for the purpose of promotions of other material gains. Karma Yoga teaches us to subtract the desire for an outcome (positive or negative) from the action and asks the practitioner to find satisfaction from the act of doing a deed and not from getting something in return.
With the desire to serve, many ills in the society can be eliminated. The feeling of service without personal motive will lead to cleaning of the attitude and character of the doer. Dedicating the results to the action performed by oneself to the divinity, is the kind of reformation the world is seeking. When we all will preach such a thing, we can hope to see a future free from ego, war, hatred and destruction. Another significant aspect of Karma Yoga is to teach people to become spiritually empowered as only with spiritual empowerment can we hope to grow. The teacher should teach the ways of spirituality but again, the response of teaching should not be considered. As the result is not what we seek, the growth is what we are dedicated to.
How can you do Karma Yoga?
- Intention is the most important pillar of karma yoga. To serve someone out of righteousness, or as a part of duty & burden is not karma yoga. When you are dedicated and devoted to your act, which is also your duty in your class, that is karma yoga. Mindlessly serving the poor, without any love or compassion but as a deed to be done or out of the desire to earn name or fame or good karma, that is where karma yoga ends.
- Be true to your duties. For instance, if you are in a family life, fulfill your duties inside the worldly setup and don’t run away from them. Thinking that yoga can only be done in the Himalayas is not correct. Yoga can be performed in everyday light by uniting the body, mind and soul. In other doctrines of yoga, it is mentioned to truly reap the benefits of yoga, one needs to give up the worldly life but Karma yoga asks the practitioner to be in the worldly life and experience complete bliss while enjoying the benefits of yoga.
- Even if you are doing a deed of charity, do it with all your heart and good intention and do not propagate about it. Any act of kindness when done without telling others through any means, is said to be the best act of good karma. The movement you seek praise or pride from the act, we are back to square one of only performing karma and not karma yoga.
With an upsurge of yoga, Karma yoga is the basic and foundational step we all should take towards the higher pathway. Be in the flow, and lose yourself to the meandering river of spirituality and you are bound to flow upwards, towards a higher plane.
 Kali Yoga is the last of the four stages the world goes through as part of the cycle of yugas described in the Sanskrit scriptures, within the present Mahayuga.- Wikipedia