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Karma Yoga: Yogah karmashu kausalam PDF Print E-mail
Gita - Gita Articles

We explored certain aspects of karma yoga in our last column. Let us take another look at some of these aspects. As we know karma, desire makes a prerequisite. Desires create a goal. A plan is chalked out and then and then only karma ensues. Krishna has outlined the whole desire pathway in second chapter and also shown us the pitfalls thereof. Kaamana (desires) have vices as well. We have also explored how desire is not the only driving force in our lives. There exists an intrinsic drive inside all of us as well. We need to understand the existence of these two pathways. Desires lead to karma (actions) in most of us. Intrinsic drive leads to karma (actions) in some of us who have been able to transcend the so called desire pathway.

We learned in our last column that Krishna wants us to focus on the karma (act) itself (2:47). Other factors have to be taken into account. Krishna actually is talking about bringing efficiency in karma itself. How else can the productivity be optimized. The waste has to be minimized. This is the underlying principle of what is termed “Lean thinking” in modern times. Krishna’s principle is talking about the same when he coins the term, “yogah karmashu kausalam.”

Whether the project comes from ‘desire pathway’ or from the ‘intrinsic drive pathway,’ the next part is much the same. Planning and preparation is needed to before the execution of the karma. Karma is the common pathway for both the inputs. This is what creates the difficulty. Krishna is driving a chariot. There are so many other charioteers in the war. It is just a job for some of them. Some are loyal to their warriors. Some are drags. Krishna is different. Yet, it is almost impossible to distinguish them from each other from outside. We now know that Krishna had been different. Arjun perhaps knew it then. Duryodhan obviously did not know it at the time; otherwise he would have chosen Krishna for himself.

Accepting the results
Karma produces results. The results will happen and come anyway. Krishna has two approaches to dealing with results. First is to do with whether to accept or not and the second is to do with whether to store or not. Results may not be directly in our hands, but they do happen. They may not be exactly as we want it to be, yet they do happen. I went to a conference on Quality of health care. System approach is a well known concept in the world of quality. Every one is aiming for perfection and zero complications. System needs to be changed for every little thing that goes wrong. Some go on to say that:

“Every system is designed perfectly to produce the result that it produces.”
It is a great approach. Yet something is missing in this approach. We need to understand that perfection is not possible and that there are going to be some factors that are out of our hands. Krishna will agree that we ought to work with the system, but will go on to add that we also need to accept the results as they come. The system will need to address the known and the unknown. The unknown will need to be added in the equation and then and then only we can get to higher achievements.

The results have come home. I have accepted the results as they have appeared. Now what do I do. We get emails. Some are junk and some are spasm. We all know what to do with junk and spam. We end up deleting them at some time or other. This is important to understand. We delete some files immediately and some we keep for a while. We do not even feel that we are doing anything. There is no feeling of tyag (sacrifice) in the process. We do treasure some emails. They remain treasure for some time. It may be a birthday card or some good wishes from a loved one. They loose value at a later day as well. All emails have value for some time and all emails loose value at some time in future. The results also have a value and that value has a time value. We go to school and work hard to pass the examination. The examinations are over. The school was over several years ago. I have since gone through college and now I am working as a doctor. Do I value the school examination the same now as I did before. Krishna is talking about dropping the results when we get it. He is not against rejoicing if there is good news. He is simply talking about deleting the junk. The question is, “what is junk and what is not.” All results are junk in the sense that they have all happened in past. Life can be lived fully if we do not carry any baggage. Life can be rejoiced fully only in the present. Past is past and future is not here yet.

These are the four parts of karma yoga. Let intrinsic drive bring the project on which karma starts to flow. Put total energy in the karma. Results will come. Embrace it will full support and be willing to drop the result so that you can move forward without any baggage. We, as we are, do not seem to follow this path. We love to carry our results (baggage) not only in this life but also in the future lives (samskara). There is a fifth element in this equation as well and Kreishna calls it yagya (yajna). We shall explore that that in future columns.

(Please mark your calendar. 14th August is Gita Day in New York at the Haft Auditorium, Fashion Institute Hall from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.. Visit for details.)

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