Tuesday January 23, 2018

Karma Yoga: The concept of work and duty, as defined by Swami Vivekananda

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Karma Yoga

Swami Vivekananda, the patriot saint, the torch bearer of Hinduism, had passed away but his teachings to humanity still lives on. One such teaching which he repeatedly spoke through out his life is about “Karma Yoga” – the concept of work and duty- the Karma Yoga. Before understanding what constitutes duty, we must first understand what constitutes Karma.

What Is Karma Yoga?

Swami Vivekananda Says:The word Karma is derived from the Sanskrit Kri, to do; all action is Karma.

Technically, this word also means the effects of actions. In connection with metaphysics, it sometimes means the effects, of which our past actions were the causes. But in Karma-Yoga we simply have to do with the word Karma as meaning work.” Therefore, all actions are Karma, from the most trivial actions like brushing the teeth to the highest elevating actions like meditation.

KARMA YOGA refers to all human activities performed with concentration, skill and finesse. The way to liberation is to perform your duties without attachment. In Bhagavad Gita Sri Krishna instructs Arjuna (all of mankind) to do their work most sincerely & with expertise and skill they have masterd, and without any attachment or expectation of rewards.

Types Of Karma Yoga:

  • Niskama Karma– work without attachment, which produces no bondage.
  • Sakama Karma-all work done for some end result, which leads to bondage for the doer.

More on “Karma Yoga” By Swami Vivekananda:

“Thus we are all doing Karma all the time. I am talking to you: that is Karma. You are listening: that is Karma. We breathe: that is Karma. We walk: Karma. Everything we do, physical or mental, is Karma, and it leaves its marks on us.”

What Is YOGA?

This is a much more confusing word. Yoga is generally understood as the activity of breath control or taking different body postures, or the activities mentioned by Pathanjali. But in Gita this word has a much wider and somewhat different meaning.

The word Yoga originated from the root ”YUJ” meaning Joining,tieing together etc. This word is used at innumerable places in the Gita with meanings like appropriateness, joining, expertise, attainment etc. The essential meaning of Yoga is explained by Sri Krishna himself as “Yogah Karmasu Kausalam” (Gita 2.50). Kausalam means a special talent, expertise or skill in doing something. So doing things with expertise is Yoga. A Yogi is one who does something with expert knowledge or skill. (according to speakingtree)

The goal of mankind is knowledge

Therefore, Karma is simple exertion of effort. Naturally the question arises, what is the ultimate goal of such efforts? Why should we perform actions?

Swami Vivekananda answers-

“The goal of mankind is knowledge. That is the one ideal placed before us by Eastern philosophy.Pleasure is not the goal of man, but knowledge. Pleasure and happiness come to an end. It is a mistake to suppose that pleasure is the goal. The cause of all the miseries we have in the world is that men foolishly think pleasure to be the ideal to strive for.”

Therefore, the ultimate goal is not pleasure, not temporary happiness but Knowledge (Atma-Jnana) that liberates one from the limited bondage of the universe.

In another place, he states- “I have already tried to point out that goal. It is freedom as I understand it. Everything that we perceive around us is struggling towards that freedom, from the atom to the man, from the insentient, lifeless particle of matter to the highest existence on earth, the human soul. The whole universe is in fact the result of this struggle for freedom.”

Means are as important as the goal

A question may arise- If the goal of all actions is Liberation, then does it mean there is no importance to the actions that are employed as means to attain the goal? Can any one indulge indiscriminately in any kind of actions?

As if to answer, Swami Vivekananda declared-“One of the greatest lessons I have learnt in my life is to pay as much attention to the means of work as to its end” in one of his lectures delivered at Los Angeles, California in 1900.

Hence, while doing one’s actions, and while performing one’s duties, one should first and foremost concentrate on the immediate job that is in front of a person. It often happens that one tends to ignore the immediate task at hand, by indulging too much in the goal to be attained.

This will result in a person being shabby at his work. Further, over-indulgence with the idea of attaining the goal will make a person blind towards righteousness or unrighteousness of the means. Such, a person will often end up having results that are quite unfavorable and sometimes opposite of what was intended.

That is why Swami Vivekananda cautions-

“Our great defect in life is that we are so much drawn to the ideal, the goal is so much more enchanting, so much more alluring, so much bigger in our mental horizon, that we lose sight of the details altogether.”

Any action that makes us go Godward is duty

As means are very vital to reach the goal, it is necessary to understand, what actions can serve as a means to attain liberation. Swami Vivekananda calls these actions “Duty”.

He says-

“Any action that makes us go Godward is a good action, and is our duty; any action that makes us go downward is evil, and is not our duty. From the subjective standpoint we may see that certain acts have a tendency to exalt and ennoble us, while certain other acts have a tendency to degrade and to brutalize us.”

Therefore, only those actions that constitute duty and lead us to exaltation can be considered as the means to Liberation. These are the duties that Hindu scriptures call “svadharma”. What is right and good for one may not be so for another person. Every person should understand his own inherent nature, his position and stage in life and perform those duties that take him towards Liberation.

Swami Vivekananda himself clarifies this-

“The Bhagavad-Gita frequently alludes to duties dependent upon birth and position in life. Birth and position in life and in society largely determine the mental and moral attitude of individuals towards the various activities of life. It is therefore our duty to do that work which will exalt and ennoble us in accordance with the ideals and activities of the society in which we are born. But it must be particularly remembered that the same ideals and activities do not prevail in all societies and countries”

But this does not mean that people perform any actions according to their fancies and call it dharma. Though svadharma is different for every person, there are universal principles that are common to everyone.

Swami Vivekananda says-

“There is, however, only one idea of duty which has been universally accepted by all mankind, of all ages and sects and countries, and that has been summed up in a Sanskrit aphorism thus: “Do not injure any being; not injuring any being is virtue, injuring any being is sin.” Therefore, people must decide their own svadharma, not on the basis of their fancies but on the basis of these universal principles and how their application will take them towards liberation.”

Work performed without attachment leads to highest realization. The next question is, how should one perform one’s duty?

Swami Vivekananda says-

“When you are doing any work, do not think of anything beyond. Do it as worship, as the highest worship, and devote your whole life to it for the time being. Thus, in the story, the Vyadha (hunter) and the woman did their duty with cheerfulness and wholeheartedness; and the result was that they became illuminated, clearly showing that the right performance of the duties of any station in life, without attachment to results, leads us to the highest realization of the perfection of the soul.”

Therefore, if the performance of duties in an unselfish manner, as an act of worship wherein the actions and its fruits are surrendered to God that leads to liberation. Hence, detached action is the key to liberation.

Swami Vivekananda summarizes this path of Karma-Yoga as-

“Karma-Yoga is the attaining through unselfish work of that freedom which is the goal of all human nature. Every selfish action, therefore, retards our reaching the goal, and every unselfish action takes us towards the goal; that is why the only definition that can be given of morality is this: That which is selfish is immoral, and that which is unselfish is moral.”

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10 Must Know Facts About Subhas Chandra Bose

Subhas Chandra Bose was a true legend in every essence and one of the most decorated freedom fighters who ever fought for incredible India.

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Subhas Chandra Bose views on attaining freedom were very much different from other Congress leaders. Wikimedia Commons
Subhas Chandra Bose views on attaining freedom were very much different from other Congress leaders. Wikimedia Commons
  • Subhas Chandra Bose was a true patriot and a man of principle who left no stone unturned to bring independence to India
  • Subhas graduated with Bachelors of Arts from the University of Calcutta
  • Subhas Chandra Bose never complied with the thoughts of Gandhi

NEW DELHI: A true Indian can never forget the very famous slogan of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, “You give me blood, and I’ll give you Freedom”. His words immediately sparked the zeal of patriotism in the hearts of many Indians during the independence struggle. Even today these words are as inspiring as they were at that time. Subhas Chandra Bose was a true patriot and a man of principle who left no stone unturned to bring independence to India.

Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was born on January 23, 1897, in Orissa, Bengal division. He is considered as one of the most esteemed freedom fighters of India who was the mastermind behind raising the Azad Hind Fauj. This force was created to fight the British people and was the first Indian armed force. Subhas Chandra Bose was a true legend in every essence and one of the most decorated freedom fighters who ever fought for incredible India.

Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was born on January 23, 1897, in Orissa, Bengal division. Wikimedia Commons
Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was born on January 23, 1897, in Orissa, Bengal division. Wikimedia Commons

He was the ninth member of a family of 14. In January 1902, Subhas Chandra Bose joined Protestant European school. Due to his extreme brilliance and skills, Subhas Chandra Bose was admired by his principal. Subhas graduated with Bachelors of Arts from the University of Calcutta. After that, he left India in 1919 and promised his father that he will be taking Indian Civil services examination.

Also Read: 10 Facts You Need To Know About Homi Bhabha

On 19 November 1919, he matriculated from Cambridge and stood fourth overall but he didn’t pursue his job over there as he didn’t want to work under the British. Thereafter, in 1921, he gave up his dream of civil services and returned to India. Two years down the lane, Subhas Chandra Bose was elected as the president of all India youth congress and under the leadership of Chittaranjan Das. During that time only, he was also selected as the CEO of Calcutta Municipal Corporation.

He staged many campaigns against the atrocities of British rule in India and got arrested in a roundup of nationalists. After he got released from the prison, he came in contact with Jawaharlal Nehru and started working for the independence struggle. He even wrote a book named, ‘The Indian Struggle’ which was published in 1935. His book was based on the facts that he witnessed personally and the painful experiences of his fellow freedom fighters.

Related imageAfter he got released from the prison, he came in contact with Jawaharlal Nehru and started working for the independence struggle. Wikimedia Commons
After he got released from the prison, he came in contact with Jawaharlal Nehru and started working for the independence struggle. Wikimedia Commons

He was also elected as the mayor of Calcutta in 1930. He later on accepted for the Nomination of the president of India.

 

Take a look at some of the astonishing facts related to Subhas Chandra Bose.
1. Earlier in his career, Subhas Chandra Bose was the leader of the radical wing of the Indian National Congress in the late 1920s and 1930s. After taking a note of his efforts, he was elected as the Congress President in 1938 and 1939. But due to some differences with Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and the Congress high command, he has been expelled from Congress leadership positions in the very same year. Subhas Chandra Bose openly criticized Congress’ foreign and internal policies.

Also Read: 15 Facts To Know About Arnab Goswami and Republic TV

2. Being a hardcore freedom fighter, Subhas Chandra Bose came under direct threat of British government. Between 1921and 1941, he was imprisoned eleven times for his fight for complete independence.
3. Subhas Chandra Bose never complied with the thoughts of Gandhi. He believed that the tactics of non-violence would never be sufficient to secure independence and rather advocated violent resistance to secure the nation.

4. To fuel the spirit of independence, Subhas Chandra Bose visited many countries Soviet Union, Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. He requested all the country leaders to allow their alliance for securing India’s independence. It initiated his move at the outset of the Second World War and during that time, most of the nations were building their military might. Finally, with the assistance from Imperial Japan, Subhas Chandra Bose raised Azad Hind Fauj or Indian National Army (INA). Japan offered monetary, political, diplomatic and military assistance to the force. Later, the Azad Hind Fauj was stationed at Andaman and Nicobar Islands and then travelled all the way to Manipur in India.

5. On August 23, 2007, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe personally visited the Subhas Chandra Bose memorial hall in Kolkata and later met his family members also. Prime Minister Abe quoted, “, “The Japanese are deeply moved by Bose’s strong will to have led the Indian independence movement from British rule.”

Subhas Chandra Bose was elected as the president of all India youth congress and under the leadership of Chittaranjan Das. Wikimedia Commons
Subhas Chandra Bose was elected as the president of all India youth congress and under the leadership of Chittaranjan Das. Wikimedia Commons

6. Subhas Chandra Bose was successful in establishing the Azad Hind Radio station in Germany and thus stoked up the Indian nationalist movement in East Asia.

Also Read: 10 must-know facts about Anand Mahindra

7. Subhas Chandra Bose was very much inspired by Bhagavad Gita and drew a lot of inspiration from it. He was also very much moved by Swami Vivekananda and his teaching on universal brotherhood, his nationalist thoughts and his emphasis on social service and much other reform.

8. Subhas Chandra Bose views on attaining freedom were very much different from other leaders. Congress wanted to gain independence through phases of a dominion status, whereas he stressed upon complete freedom. For his will to fight for his country, he was considered as a true patriot even by some of his rivals. He just wanted freedom for his nation and he didn’t mind going to anyone for assistance.

9. After successfully clearing his Indian Civil Services examination, Subhash Chandra Bose refused to obey the custom of carrying his umbrella while meeting the Governor General at his office. He never tolerated any misbehaviour in his life.

10. Subhash Chandra Bose travelled to Germany while attempting with a daring escape from his house arrest in India. He travelled from Kolkata to Gomo by a car and from there to Peshawar by train. He then went to Kabul and proceeded directly to Germany to seek help from Adolf Hitler for India’s independence. After many attempts, he was able to speak with Hitler.

Subhash Chandra Bose travelled to Germany to seek Adolf Hitler's help. Wikimedia Commons
Subhash Chandra Bose travelled to Germany to seek Adolf Hitler’s help. Wikimedia Commons

Subhas Chandra Bose death still remains a mystery at large. As per the government report, he died in a plane crash on 18 August 1945. But this theory is refuted by many historians and scholars. In the book, “Bose: The Indian Samurai – Netaji and the INA Military Assessment”, Maj Gen G D Bakshi (retd), has pointed out that the above report was made by Japanese intelligence agencies to help Subhas Chandra Bose to make his way to the Soviet Union.

In 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi met the family members of Subhas Chandra Bose and announced the declassification of files related to his life. Later on, 100 secret files were made public by the central government.