[Advaita-l] Question about karma yoga

Sujal Upadhyay sujal.u at gmail.com
Thu Aug 4 11:35:50 CDT 2016


I am not a scholar on this topic, but would like to offer my 2cc.

Gītā is a moksha śāstra and not a dharma śāstra. Hence renunciation of
karma kāṇḍa and agnī is recommended. karma kāṇḍa is said to be kāmya karma,
hence a sanyāsī has to renounce ajnī i.e. yajña, havan, not even for the
well being for society.

However, we are all attached with our body, mind and ego. Hence knowingly
or unknowingly whatever karma we do, happens to be kāmya or sakāma karma.
Hence our journey is to move from sakāma to niśkāma bhāva.

IMHO, There are three ways to progress spiritually on the path of jñāna.

1. Surrender all work and it's fruits to Īśvara. (karma and karma phala).
When one surrenders karma phala, karma is automatically surrendered to

2. Do all karma for Īśvara and not for anybody else.

3. Do karma with sākshī (sāxī) bhāva i.e. by being a witness.

As I understand, these are the reasons for 3 types of approaches while
doing karma.

1. When we say that we have 'surrendered' or 'offered' all our karma and
it's phala to Īśvara, it has a pre-condition. The word 'surrender' or
'offer' can only be possible if we have something to 'surrender' or
'offer'. We can only give what we have. It means that we possess something
and are willing to give. this implies there is an attachment with what we
have done and it's results. Hence there is 'mama bhāva'. With 'mama bhāva',
there is 'aham bhāva'. This 'I-ness' or 'mine-ness' is that which should be
offered. This 'I-ness' or 'mine-ness' is our attachment with karma. Hence
along with offering of karma or karma phala, our attachment to it also gets
fade away. With repeated surrender with strong bhāva, comes humility and
faith in Īśvara. 'I-nēs' and 'Mine-ness' fades away. In this way we proceed
from sakāma to niśkāma karma.

2. Whatever we do, kēp Īśvara in center or say kēp Īśvara in between work
and you. For example when you are helping someone condition your mind such
that, in reality, one one can help anyone except Īśvara. Hence I am not
doing any favour by helping him. On the other hand, feel blessed and
recipient of grace of Īśvara that he has chosen to work through you. In
this way, you will not get attached to the one whom you are helping, but
will remain humble. Likewise, when helped by someone, though for practical
purposes you are obliged to say 'Thank you', in reality know that, 'It is
Īśvara who has helped me through him'. Hence there will not be any
dependency upon a person, nor will be a feeling of being 'under debt'. In
either cases, our faith in Īśvara will increase and since we have already
surrendered to Īśvara, by his grace, work will be niśkāma. As our faith and
surrender in him increases, we will move from sakāma to niśkāma karma.

3. Being sākshī is very difficult. This last way is for the ones whose
consciousness is loosely bound to body. During meditation, they can
separate themselves from the thoughts, emotions, ego and physical body. In
this path, one abides in jñāna sthiti, stays we a witness and then do all
work. This state is difficult to explain. Even while talking, one feels
separateness or a kind of detachment. When the work is over, mind
effortlessly turns introvert. Even in neti-neti, one has to abide in the
state of jñāna and then be a witness and negate whatever is non-Self i.e.
anātmā. In case of such a blessed soul, s/he is not much attached while
doing work, just like we are not totally conscious while driving. We talk,
think, sing or listen while driving, still we change gears, apply brakes,
overtake vehicles or down speed to let others overtake you. All these
krīyā-s happen without paying special attention. In the same most work can
be done in this way. In Sri Ramakrishna's words, "While doing work, keep
one hand in God and another in work When work is finished, keep both hands
in God". Even when one does work with full concentration, the mantra or the
feeling of being brahman, which is consciousness, persists in subconscious
mind. After work gets done, mantra or feeling of being a witness comes to
conscious mind (jāgrata mana). Hence there are no more thoughts on the
topic which was finished few moments ago. In this way the one stays 'in
presence', does not think of past. So such a man never thinks of any
unsolved problem after leaving the place. For example, after we leave from
office, no thought about pending work comes in mind.

For this to happen, Īśvara kṛpā (Kripā), guru's kṛpā are necessary. Equally
important is that the only goal of Life is 'moksha'. Moksha is the primary
and the only goal and one is ready to renounce anything for the sake of
this goal. 4 qualities like viveka, vairāgya, ṣaṭasampatti, mumukshutva
have to be cultivated and has to be present in much more percentage then in

Hence practice either 1st or 2nd approach. Diligent practice will open
doors for 3rd approach. Also remember that when one wants to achieve
anything or is not ready to renounce any desire or object, one has to
follow rules of karma kāṇḍa.Hence dharma is to be carried our in a
scripturally prescribed way. But when one wants to leave anything, there is
no discipline or step by step procedure. When shifting from old house to
new house, we step into new house at an auspicious moment (śubha muhurat),
but do we care much about leaving old house in auspicious moment? to leave
anything, or renounce anything from our mind i.e. remove attachment of
anything, there is no need of waiting for muhurat or help of friends or
family members. It's all up to you. It's inside your mind. Hence none but
you can help you. If none can help you, none can obstruct your path to
moksha, except your own mind.

Awakening and meditating during brahma muhurata, etc is prescribed even for
sanyāsīn-s as though one is a renunciate, one has not risen above māyā.
When one is still under the influence of māyā and so prakṛti, one has to be
in tune with nature and take advantage of sātvika vātāravaṇa, as there are
no worldly thoughts before Sunrise. After day-2-day activity begins (which
begins after sunrise), worldly thoughts begin to float in atmosphere and
efficiency and quality of meditation is reduced.


Now the explanation for considering everything as mithyā. It is a process
and a training of mind. It is de-hypnotising yourself from wrong belief
that you are a person, body or mind or ego, etc.  It is about removing
attachment with worldly objects and destroying jīva-śṛṣṭi (mental creation).

Please read the following link for further explanation:





There is one more way of progressing spiritually. It is the path of yoga.
It is to control the mind. abhyāsa and vairāgya are two wings that one
needs to fly. Do dośa darśana in samsāra to develop vairāgya. abhyāsa is to
practice dośa darśana daily, read scriptures, attend discourses dealing
with moksha, stay in presence of a guru and meditate sincerely.

This while process is explained in Madhusūdan Sarasvatī in his Gītā
commentary Guḍhārtha Dīpikā in chapter 6, specially in 6.15 and 6.35 where
he quotes Patanjalī Yoga Sūtra 1.15, 1.13, etc, along wtih Vyāsa Bhāśya.
Hence it's study is also required. This makes things complicated and easy
to understand. But if you are interested in exploring depths and interested
in yogic approach, it is worth reading, else stick to  3 ways and develop
vairāgya. Keep moksha as only goal to succeed.

Hope this helps.



"To disconnect from the self and to become Aware of anything else is
nothing but unhappiness" - Bhagawan Ramana Maharshi

He who has faith has all
He who lacks faith, lacks all
It is the faith int he name of lord that works wonders

On Thu, Aug 4, 2016 at 8:13 PM, Shashi via Advaita-l <
advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> wrote:

> Namaskara to all the learned people on this list. This is my first post
> here. I would appreciate it if someone would eliminate a doubt I have about
> karma yoga. I am new to the intricacies of advaita, so I appreciate
> anyone's willingness to answer and their patience as well.
> My question is about the state of mind of the yogi. From what I
> understand, Karma yoga is  (1) the performance of ordained duties (2) with
> no regard for the fruits and (3) without feeling that "I am the doer."
> I understand the first two elements atleast at a theoretical level.  The
> third is what I have difficulty understanding. What does it feel like when
> one feels he is not the doer of the action? For example, during
> sandhyavandana, when one offers Arghya, one can say "I am doing this
> because Shastra says so, to please Bhagavan, and I leave all results to
> him." But it's my mind with the intention, my mouth with the Gayatri, and
> my hands with the water that cause the action to be done right? How can I
> relinquish ownership?
> If the answer is that the mind and hands are ultimately maya and
> ultimately its Brahman who causes these actions, I get that, but that still
> confuses me. To realize that fact completely and through anubhava itself
> Brahmajnana right? Then if one has not like realized Brahman like me. how
> is karma yoga possible?
> Thank you,
>  Shashi
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