Friday December 13, 2019

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.”

Next Story

Vivekananda Cannot Be Desecrated by Marxism

Just recently, the statue of Swami Vivekananda was mindlessly defaced by a group of students in JNU, Delhi

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Vivekananda
Swami Vivekananda was a thinker and free from worldly affairs. He is known to have realized the divinity in every being. He is also known to have preached across the world that we must learn to see every individual as God manifestation in flesh and blood. Wikimedia Commons

BY SALIL GEWALI

Some people still hold that “power” comes only from the barrel of the gun. But the power in spurts also comes from the pens. The power coming from the pen is mightier and more impactful. That’s why we have the works from the pens of great thinkers like Hegel, Friedrich Engels and Karl Max  which easily “demolished” the monopoly of feudalism, aristocracy, monarchy and churchism that no weapons on earth could have done.  In India we Have a Great Philosopher and Thinker Swami Vivekananda.

Probably about 100 countries had determinedly opted for communism till the first half of the 20th Century. The leaders were euphoric that they would bring “equality” among all, they would fill the stomach of each individual. The ordinary citizens will have no worries. The news of new-found joy and peace among the commoners in Russia veritably spread world-wide. But very soon, standing on the elevated pedestal of power, the torchbearers of Communism projected themselves to be “more equal”. Thus, in spite of major changes in the socio-economic fabric, the Marx-Lenin doctrines also came to wreak havoc with the lives of the people who at times raised their voices against the brutal atrocities in the name of achieving equality. Millions of people were killed. Consequently, that endless violence and bloodshed have further bloodied the pages of history. The second half of the twentieth century thus saw the fall of communism like a ton of bricks. 

Vivekananda
Is loving each being without discrimination not the first teaching of right-thinking philosophers and all religions? Even Karl Marx and Hegel will not disagree on this, and so will Vivekananda. But it is very disgraceful that such great men with great ideas from the home country are brazenly disrespected and demeaned.

This rapid transition was in fact prompted by various factors. The loss of the “integrity” of the leaders was the prime cause. On seeing the rise of power of the leaders who acted with unusual arrogance, George Orwell could not hold himself back. He roared – communism to totalitarianism is terribly frightful’. Orwell penned down a satirical novel – ANIMAL FIRM. This touched everyone’s heart. It was a lethal attack upon self-righteous Joseph Stalin of the Soviet Union. 

Vivekananda
In spite of major changes in the socio-economic fabric, the Marx-Lenin doctrines also came to wreak havoc with the lives of the people who at times raised their voices against the brutal atrocities in the name of achieving equality just like Vivekananda.

True, the wayward and whimsical misinterpretation coupled with the loss of human values turned out to be Frankenstein’s monster to kill this well-intended ideology of classless government. Within a period of less than 50 years, only a few nations stood up to continue to follow the pathway conceived by Karl Marx and his masters. Many rational political scientists had set forth diverse reasons for the chronic sickness of the communism. 

Yet, the literature by Marx and his ilk still continue to cast its spell. In some countries, it roars and thunders with a vengeance. This results in barbaric riots and violence disturbing the peaceful co-existence of the diverse communities. 

Vivekananda
Just recently, the statue of Swami Vivekananda was mindlessly defaced by a group of students in JNU, Delhi.

 As other countries, India has also long been suffering the onslaught of such ideologues and their proclivities. Therefore, we regularly witness the “cruel avatar” of Marx-and-Mao. Just recently, the statue of Swami Vivekananda was mindlessly defaced by a group of students in JNU, Delhi. If you ask earnestly what they have found wrong in the Indian monk then their answers come with the tone of immaturity, dogmatism and hatred. JNU has earned a reputation of being infested with a swarm of certain kind of crackpots whose eyes can’t bear to look at that which glorify the nation. Their minds are weighed down by the heavy load of prejudices and hatred for the nation, nay, humanity. They are almost like spoilt brats kicking their parents and smashing their own household furniture. “Tukre-tukre” gang is a new term to describe them for their open subversive activities.

Vivekananda
If you ask earnestly what JNU Students have found wrong in Vivekananda then their answers come with the tone of immaturity, dogmatism and hatred. JNU has earned a reputation of being infested with a swarm of certain kind of crackpots whose eyes can’t bear to look at that which glorify the nation.

What is very appalling is that round-the-clock they are motivated and protected by certain forces. Those forces also held the Indian academia to ransom for the past over a hundred years. Therefore, many wrongs are taught in Indian schools as right. The TRUTHS are resisted to be included in the academic curriculum. The pride and glories history of the country and its rich literary KNOWLEDGE has been systematically buried. Yes, they are the kind of intellectuals who see “virtues” in Mahishasur and foreign despotic invaders like Mohd. Gajni, Babar, Aurangzeb but vehemently criticize Indian icons who are invariably the paragon of righteousness.

Vivekananda
The Minds of JNU Students are weighed down by the heavy load of prejudices and hatred for the nation, nay, humanity. They are almost like spoilt brats kicking their parents and smashing their own household furniture. “Tukre-tukre” gang is a new term to describe them for their open subversive activities and deseceration of Statue of Vivekananda depicts the Same.

Right from the embodiment of righteousness like Krishna, Rama, Ved Vyasa, Shankaracharya to the present social and literary figures who have contributed remarkably in the making of INDIA, are the objects of regression and derision for those scholars who hold Karl Marx, Hegel, Lenin….,  and in high esteem. Therefore, when the statue of Vivekananda was desecrated, we noticed conspicuous “silence” while the groups of intellectuals rocked the country when the statue of Lenin of Russian was pulled down in Tripura, India. 

Vivekananda
It is very disgraceful that such great men like Vivekananda with great ideas from the home country are brazenly disrespected and demeaned. It seems it is time for serious introspection and to take the right measures before it is too late.

Rightly speaking, Swami Vivekananda was a thinker and free from worldly affairs. He is known to have realized the divinity in every being. He is also known to have preached across the world that we must learn to see every individual as God manifestation in flesh and blood. Is it not the universal wisdom of humanity?  Is loving each being without discrimination not the first teaching of right-thinking philosophers and all religions? Even Karl Marx and Hegel will not disagree on this. But it is very disgraceful that such great men with great ideas from the home country are brazenly disrespected and demeaned. It seems it is time for serious introspection and to take the right measures before it is too late. 

ALSO READ: Insufficient Sleep In Poor People Linked With Heart Disease

Look at North Korea — how Ho is super equal who has write to kill other equals.

Making heroes of those sadists ,,,

Freedome of speech the speech the man weak …

Look at North Korea — how Ho is super equal who has write to kill other equals. 

Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great minds on India’. Twitter: @SGewali