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Nishkamya Karma Yoga

by Swami Sivananda

In the practice of Nishkamya Karma Yoga, there is no loss of effort. There is no harm. There is no transgression also. Even a little of this knowledge, even a little practice can protect you from great fear of birth and death with its concomitant evils. You will doubtless reap the fruits in this path of Karma Yoga, viz., Jnana. There is no uncertainty here. Matter is indestructible. Energy is indestructible. Even a little practice with the right mental attitude will purify the Chitta. The Samskaras of virtuous actions are imbedded in the Chitta. They are also indestructible. They are real, valuable assets for you. They will prevent you from doing wrong actions. They will goad you to do selfless actions. They will push you on to the goal. Selfless works will prepare the ground of Antahkarana for the reception of the seed of Jnana. The path of Karma Yoga eventually leads to the attainment of infinite bliss of the Self.

Work unselfishly with disinterested spirit. Always scrutinise your motives. Your motive should be pure. The fruits of actions vary according to the motive. Listen to this story: In Hanuman Ghat two girls were in a drowning condition. Two young men jumped immediately into the Ganga and rescued them. One man asked the girl to marry him. The other man said: "I have done my duty. God gave me an opportunity to serve and improve myself." He had Chitta Suddhi. The external action is the same (the act of saving the life) but the motive is different. The fruits also must be different. Never care for the fruits of your actions. But do not become a victim of sloth or inertia. Pour forth all your energies in the service of humanity, country, etc. Plunge yourself in selfless service.

Fix your mind at the Lotus Feet of the Lord. Give the hands to work. Even when you work, work like the typist or the harmonium player who types or plays while talking to you, like the woman who knits and talks at the same time. Let your mind be ever attached to the Lotus Feet of the Lord while your hands are at work. The mind of the girl who has the water-pot on her head, is on the pot even though she talks and jokes with her comrades while walking along the road. You will be able to do two things at a time by practice. The manual work will become automatic, mechanical or instinctive. You will have two minds. A portion of the mind will be at work, while the rest of the mind will be in the service of the Lord, in meditation, in Japa. Repeat the Name of the Lord while at work also. Ashtavadhanis do eight things at a time. They play at cards, move the man in Chaturanga play (chess), dictate some passages to a third man, talk to a fourth in order and continuation, and so on. This is a question of training of the mind. Even so, you can so train the mind that it can work with the hands and can remember God at the same time. This is Karma Yoga and Bhakti Yoga combined.

Lord Krishna says:

Tasmat sarveshu kaleshu mamanusmara yudhya cha; Mayyarpitamanobuddhir mamevaishyaisyasamsayam.

"Therefore at all times think upon Me and fight with mind and reason set on Me, without doubt thou shalt come unto Me." Gita: Chapter VIII-7.

Though the cow grazes in the pasture having been separated from the calf, her mind is always fixed on the calf only. Similarly you should fix the mind on God when you do Japa, like the cow, and give your hands to work, which is only worship of the Lord. Renounce all attachment. Be balanced in success or failure, gain or loss, victory or defeat, pleasure or pain. Train and discipline your mind cautiously. This is your master-key to open the doors of the realms of bliss. This is the secret of Karma Yoga. This is the secret of success in Yoga. Here is also another interesting illustration. The mind of the Ayah is always on her own child though she fondles and caresses the child of the zamindar for the time being. The mind of the Choranari is always on her paramour though she is busy doing her household duties at her home. Even so, fix the mind at the Lotus Feet of the Lord and give the hands to worldly activities. You can realise God even while remaining in the world if you adopt this method. You need not retire to Himalayan caves and forests. That is the reason why Lord Krishna says: "Renunciation and Yoga of action both lead to the highest bliss; of the two, Yoga of action is verily better than renunciation of action." Gita: Chapter V-2.

If you care for the fruits of actions you will be caught up in the wheel of birth and death. You cannot expect to attain immortality immediately or the final beatitude.

Mind is so framed that it cannot work without expectation of fruits or anticipation of rewards for actions. If you smile when you meet your friend, you do expect a smile in return from him. If you give a cup of water to somebody, you do expect something in return from him. If you salute your friend on Mount Road, you expect him to salute you in return. This is the inborn nature of worldly-minded people. You will have to train the mind to work disinterestedly. You will have to tame the mind cautiously. You will have to discipline the mind with patience and perseverance. Worldly-minded people cannot understand the spirit of Nishkamya service as their minds are charged or saturated with impurities. Do service for sometime. Then you will grasp the spirit of Nishkamya Karma Yoga. In the beginning all your actions may be selfish. But if you work hard in the field of Karma Yoga for two years, five of your actions will be unselfish and ninety-five will be selfish. Scrutinise your motives, purify them and try hard. After some years of incessant struggle, fifty actions will become unselfish. A good time will come when all your actions, hundred per cent, will be purely unselfish. You will become a perfect Karma Yogi like Raja Janaka. The time is not very far if you keep up the ideal before you daily and struggle hard to reach the ideal, and if you are sincere and earnest in your purpose.

The mind is filled with purity (Sattva) if you work without expectation of fruits, if you work for the sake of God, if you regard work as worship or Puja of Narayana, if you dedicate all your actions to God as Isvararpana. Feel and think that you breathe, live and work for God alone every second of your life, and that, without Him, life is absolutely useless. Feel the pangs of separation while at work if you forget Him even for a fraction of a second.


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