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Efficient Working (Karmasu Kaushalam) PDF Print E-mail
Gita - Gita Articles

buddhi-yukto jahatiha
ubhe sukrta-duskrte
tasmad yogaya yujyasva
yogah karmasu kausalam

Endued with this buddhi yoga one frees oneself in this life, alike from vice and virtue. Therefore strive for this yoga, O Arjuna, which is the art of all work. ||2:50||

karma-jam buddhi-yukta hi
phalam tyaktva manisinah
padam gacchanty anamayam

The wise, engaged in this buddhi yoga, and abandoning the fruits of their actions, are freed from ever from the fetters of the birth and go to the state that is beyond life and death. ||2:51||

We talked about expecting, not expecting and accepting of results in our last column. Karma will always produce result. Expecting a result takes away some energy from the performance of the work at hand. If the expectations are not met, frustration and anger follows. Not expecting a result is said to be hard. Why is it hard? It is hard because part of you or me is expecting a result. Then we have to force our self not to expect the result that we are expecting any way. It is a form of hypocrisy. That is why I have explained it as embracing or accepting the result as it comes. When there is total acceptance of any result as a gift from Parmatama, there is total trust in existence. There are no complaints. In this state of being, there are no expectations and then it becomes easy to understand what Krishna means by abandoning the fruits of action.

The whole work to start with was not performed for personal interest. The karma was done for Parmatma’s interests or for the interest of existence. Krishna bhaktas will say that it was performed for Krishna. Now, if the karma is not done for me then I (the ego I) am not the doer. There is no ego involved in the work. How can the result be for me? The question of abandoning the result does not arise. It was never mine any way. The problem is in the language and not in the existence.

This can be experienced subjectively better than be expressed in language. First get to the clarity we talked about in prior ‘buddhi yoga’ discussion by dropping of moha. Once the conditioning is gone, decisiveness sets in. Then make your plans and execute them by doing the karma. No expectations should arise, not even the not expecting, because even not expecting can be an expectation. Just trust the existence completely. Accept and embrace the results as they come. You will find that the results do not bind you. And this in fact is liberating itself. The results have been abandoned.

Let us first understand what is ‘freedom from paap (vice) and punya (virtue)’ mean and what is efficient use of karma (karmasu kaushalam). Krishna truly is talking about pursuit of excellence. Karmas are binding only when you do karma with your desires and when you think you control the results. If you have no personal desires and you are totally ready to accept whatever outcome is there, there is no relationship between you and the karma or the result. And then there is no question of vice or virtue. The interesting part is that Krishna calls this as efficient karma (karmasu kaushalam). It is efficient for many reasons but most importantly of all is that total energy is focused on the work and not on desires or expectation of result. And what can be a more efficient use of work. Krishna’s statement is purely mathematical here.

Krishna also tells us that buddhi yoga is liberating. It liberates us from the fetters of birth and leads us to the beyond. This is what Shankaracharya has described as ‘nischal tattve jeevan muktiha.” What is this freedom from the fetters of life?

We need to understand that, existentially; there is no problem with birth or death. The problem is in our understanding. Birth appears to have fetters. Death appears to be real. But, that is not the reality. We are so busy living a life of desires and expectations that we do not have time to experience any thing about life and death. We live and hence conclude that we know life. We see other people dying and conclude that we know death. Deep inside, we know that we do not know. Death is an inference. My father was there one day and he was gone the other. He is no more with us in physical body. Therefore he must be dead. He is the only one who knows the truth. He may be there somewhere looking at me and saying, “I am still here as much and as whole as I was when you left me.” Of course, I am not able to communicate with him at that level. There are many such possibilities. And that ignorance creates all the fetters, fears and bindings.

We are all extroverts in some respects. We are always traveling outside, running to get somewhere all the time. Our total energy goes on studying or pursuing other objects. Krishna is trying to direct our energy to study ourselves; he is encouraging Arjuna to do a subjective study. He wants us to spend some time with ourselves. And once this happens and we get centered, the rest happens from divine help.

I talked about acceptance and trust. This brings us to our center. A deep silence and reverence arises. In this silence the greatest mystery of life and death is revealed. And then we come to know, really know face to face, that there is no death. Death becomes a fiction. We can only laugh at ourselves and go on from there. Karma still flows. Results still happen. But then there are no fetters and there are no bindings. We are not only happy ourselves but add to the happiness of others. In fact, happiness is our true nature. We actually work hard to be unhappy and spend a lot of energy trying to stay unhappy. Moreover, we keep on justifying our unhappiness by saying how hard it is to be happy. Krishna is talking about the use of buddhi yoga for doing nishkam karma and mentions some of the great advantages of following this path. This is the way to efficient working for achieving great results.

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  • Hari

    Yastu aatmaratireva syaad is a key sloka. All the happiness we need is within ourselves. Compared to this inner peace the external attractions are like so many small wells beside the ocean. Our past karma ie kaamya karma has clouded our mind hence we are unable to perceive this truth clearly and at all times. By doing our niyatam karma ie yajnadaanatapahkarma which is never tyaajyam; in a nishkaama way we can purify our minds. Lest we be diverted we need to constantly remind ourselves Aatmaiva hi aatmano bandhu and aatmaiva ripuraatmanah. So uddhared aatmanaatmaanam. Ur efforts in kaamya karma are only one among many factors contributing to the make up of the results. In nishkaama karma your efforts always count. Swalpamapyasya dharnasya traayate mahato bhayaath. As for the rest remember they are like the fatted lamb pampered till the last moment when it is led to a painful death. Dont be afraid to differ with them. Yaa nishaa sarvabhoothanaam etc. But be pragmatic. Na Buddhibhedam ...

  • ekrishna

    Thanks for sharing. I agree that it is key shloka.


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