[Advaita-l] On Karma Yoga: VII - Loka KalyaaNam

kuntimaddi sadananda kuntimaddisada at yahoo.com
Wed Jan 4 04:25:19 CST 2006

Krishna discussed that everyone has to do Karma yoga and in fact,
everyone has to be part of the eternal wheel of action.  That involves
performing the action in the spirit of yagna to please the gods.  The
gods so pleased will bless with the appropriate results, which should be
distributed in proportion to individual contributions.  The individuals
in turn take only what they need and put the remaining back again into
the totality for the benefit of the society in the form of yagna to
please the gods again.  Thus, the eternal wheel of action is set in
motion with everyone participating in it.  We have defined Gods as the
production potential in the field of action and yagna as the cooperative
endeavor in complete self-sacrificing mode for the benefit of the
totality. The wheel of action thus sets in motion the eternal re-cycling
of resources and their regeneration thus conserving and protecting the
nature for generations to come. Balance of natural resources is
maintained by the wheel of action involving continuous re-cycling
process in the spirit of yagna.  Degradation of individual as well as
the society occurs when this eternal wheel of action established by the
creator himself at the time of creation is not followed.  This happens
when the individuals and the nations become selfish and try to destroy
others and the Nature for their own selfish ends.  In this system, no
one has any rights, but everyone has duties to perform.  Others’ duties
effectively become our rights.  For example, others duty not to steal my
property effectively becomes my right for my property.  Confirming to
one’s duty is more a norm than demanding for one’s rights.  Most
importantly, those who act in this yagna spirit and thus participate in
the eternal wheel of action; the actions do not bind them.  The actions
will only glorify them.  On the other hand, Krishna warns that those
that do not follow this spirit of yagna and thus do not contribute to
the wheel of action, they get bound and fall into the endless ocean of
samsaara.  Natural disasters also follow at macro level when the
ecological balance is disturbed by industrial pollution of air and water
and global worming.  Thus, Krishna provides a completely now vision
expanding the conventional meaning of Yagna, homa and karma known to the
Vedic periods into new heights.  In the fourth chapter, He describes
various types of yagnas that one can do in self-sacrificing mode for
one’s spiritual saadhana. Of many types of yagnas, Krishna says jnaana
yagna is the supreme, based on which Chinmaya Mission started jnaana
yagna series to disseminate scriptural knowledge at a global level. 

shreyaan dravyamayaadyajnaat jnaanayagnaH parantapa|
sarvam karmaakhilam paartha jnaane parisamaapyate||
Oh! Arjuna| of all the yagnas, that involve offering materials, offering
knowledge as yagna or jnaana yagna is the most supreme. Because, all the
vaasanaas born out of karmas get neutralized or annihilated by the

Exceptions to the rule: 

Krishna says everyone should work in the spirit of yagna and contribute
to the wheel of action.  There are, however, some exceptions to this
rule.  Those who do not depend on things other than themselves have no
obligatory duties to perform – they have realized their essential nature
and thus are firmly established in their knowledge.  They are
sthitaprajna-s, who revel in themselves by themselves (aatmanyeva
aatmanaa tushhTaH).  They recognized that happiness is not ‘out there’,
but happiness comes within and in fact it is their very nature. 
Obligatory duties arise when I am dependent on the things, places and/or
people, or in short something other than myself for my happiness.  I
search for happiness outside only when I realize that I am unhappy.  If
I recognize that my nature is happiness itself, then, there is no reason
for me to look for happiness outside. I do not need to depend on
anything to gain happiness.  Dependence on anything other than myself
for my happiness is bondage. Karma is done in the spirit of yagna to
relieve oneself from bondage. If one is already liberated then spirit of
yagna is redundant. 
Hence Krishana says:

yatsvaatmaratirevasyaat aatma tRiptasya maanavaH|
aatmanyevaca santushhTaH tasya kaaryam na vidyate||

naiva tasya kRitenaartho naakRiteneha kaschana|
na caasya sarvabhuuteshhu kashcidarthavyapaashrayaH||

Whoever revels in himself and is completely contended in himself or with
himself fully, with no other desire for anything else, for him there are
no obligatory duties.
For such a person, there is nothing he is going to gain in this world by
performing any action, nor there is nothing to loose by not performing.
In addition, he has no self-interest in any relationship with any other
beings in this world, for his happiness.  In essence, he has no
obligations to the people, places or things for his happiness.  If at
all he does any action, he does it out of pure love or compassion, just
as King Janaka, who was self-realized soul lived in olden days. 

Here Krishna says obligatory duties arise because of one’s dependence on
things other than himself.  The truth about happiness is stated simply

sarvam paravasham duHkham sarvam aatmavasham sukham|
etat vidyaa samaasena lakshaNam sukha duHkhayoH||

There are many theories about happiness or what is happiness.  But here
is the definition in essence – Sorrow is the dependence on anything
other than oneself and happiness is independence from any dependence on
anything other than oneself. When there is dependence, there is an
expectation, disappointments and sorrow. Excessive dependence and
disappointments can also result in anger and frustration, and in the
moments of anger one acts devilish, contrary to his own nature.   

If we are source of happiness and still we are looking for it outside,
it only means that we are not aware of our own true nature. Thus,
ignorance of our true nature is the root cause for looking out for
happiness, and dependence on things other than oneself. Hence, reveling
oneself in oneself is a natural state while reveling on something other
than oneself thinking that it gives happiness is unnatural.  The
happiness that one gets even fulfilling one’s desire for objects or
people is also short lived since in fulfilling those desires the
happiness that one gains is only from his own self.  One-desire props up
many other desires thus keeping the mind in constant agitation, thus
depriving ones happiness. 

However Krishna says, even if one has realized and does not have any
obligations and do not depend on anything else for his happiness, it is
better to act rather than remain inactive.  The reason is others try to
follow him wrongly without having gained the self-knowledge.  Hence,
Krishna says:

yadyadaacariti shreshhTaH tattadevetaro janaH|
sa yatpramaaNam kurute lokostaduvartate||

whatever a noble person does the other people try to follow him. 
Whatever he does, he sets an example for others to follow.  Therefore,
even a realized person should act, not for his sake, but for the benefit
of the people or for loka kalyaaNam.  Krishna gives his own life as an
example. “There is nothing in the three worlds that I need to gain or to
avoid, but still I am involved continuously.  If I don’t do it, then
others try to follow me and become inactive.  Hence if I do not act, I
become indirectly the cause for their destruction. Therefore Arjuna, the
realized sages, even if they are not keenly interested in any action
since they have nothing to gain, they still have to act for the benefit
of the humanity or for loka kalyaaNam. 

Thus we have three classes people: (a) Common people who are
predominantly ignorant of their true nature, (b) mumukshuH or seeker of
self-knowledge who have gained the requisite qualifications of mental
purity to pursue self-knowledge, and c) realized masters who have gained
the self-knowledge. The first set of people are the majority, and have
to do Karma yoga with the spirit of yagna.  Here there is no choice
whether to do or not to do karma yoga, or to choose karma yoga or jnaana
yoga as Arjuna posed the question.  The jnaanis who have realized, need
not have to do any karma for their own happiness.  Krishna, however,
recommends that they should involve themselves to set an example for the
masses. Since they have no self-centered desires to act, whatever they
do will be for the benefit of the totality or loka kalyaaNam. Now, the
second set of people who have purified their minds with karma yoga, or
have acquired the saadhana chatushhTam or four fold qualifications –
what do they have to do.  For them Veda-s recommend, shravaNa, manana
and nidhidhyaasana.  Paramaarthaanandaji defines shravaNa as a
systematic and consistent study of Vedantic scriptures for a length of
time, under the guidance of a competent teacher.  Here every word is
important.  A competent teacher is one who was once a competent
disciple, who himself has learned from a competent teacher. Thus, there
is guru-shishya parampara or lineage of teacher-taught.  A systematic
teaching follows a sampradaaya or traditional teaching method since the
subject is very subtle. SravaNa will give aatmajnaanam or knowledge of
oneself.  The next is mananam.  It is meant for removing all the doubts.
When the student hears from the teacher ‘you are that’ or ‘you are
brahman’, it appears to be impossible to accept by any rational
intellect until he learns that the truth is beyond the rational
intellect. ‘naishhaa tarkena matiraapaneya’, ‘truth cannot be
established by logical or intellectual analysis’ says kaThopanishhat .
mananam is required to remove the mental obstruction to accept the
Vedantic truths.  ‘mananena samshaya nivRittiH’. Once the mind is
convinced without any doubts left, then comes the nidhidhyaasanam – it
is a processes of internalization of the teaching by dwelling upon the
doubt-free knowledge using any of the following methods: studying,
writing, repeated listening, discussing, teaching, etc. or meditating or
contemplating on the truth in the direction pointed out by the
scriptures or any combination of them or all of the above. 
Internalization is the de-conditioning process to remove conditioning.
‘I am de-facto jiiva’ is my current conditioning. My entire life style
is driven by this conditioning – or I should say I have lived many lives
with that conditioning.  Hence this conditioning is very deep rooted. We
are not changing the conditioning by a new conditioning as JK’s talks
indicate but questioning the very foundation on which these deep rooted
conditioning that aham jiivaH or I am limited jiiva is established. 
This questioning or inquiry is done using the Vedanta as pramaaNa or
using the scripture as the basis since Vedanta provides a different
vision of myself, which is different from the notions that I have about
It is obvious that shravaNa, manana and nidhidhyaasana cannot be done
effectively while indulging in worldly duties. The recommendation is to
minimize the later as much as one can and involve oneself to the maximum
possible in the pursuit of moksha as the fourth and final purushhaartha.
 As mentioned before, during the marriage time we take our spouses to
fulfill the first three purushhaarthas- dharma, artha and kaama.  For
moksha each one is on their own, since this involves a dhyaanam or
contemplation on the truth. Moksha is not going somewhere or doing
something but being established in what you are in relation to what you
think you are.  All relations are dropped since the truth is beyond any
relations and relatives. Incidentally, the relations established by
marriage are called sambandhi-s – those who provide the total bondage
(samyak bandhanam).  Truth involves freedom from all bondages or all
relatives (dualities) or sambandhi-s!  In that case sanyaasa aashrama
provides a conducive environment for the single-pointed contemplation,
provided the mind is relatively purified from attachments. Otherwise,
one can still do nidhidhyaasana while remaining in gruhasta aashrama,
minimizing as much as possible the worldly involvement.  For such
seekers, karmayoga is then part of jnaana yoga and not separate from it,
since studying, writing, teaching, and contemplation all involves
actions.  Thus, karmayogies graduate to jnaana yoga once the mind
becomes pure with less desires and hence less agitations, and thus is
available for inquiry. 

Arjuna asks next a pertinent question – why after studying and knowing
that happiness is not out there, people still go after the worldly
pleasures even against their own convictions.  Krishna addresses this
issue in the next post.  

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