1. Karma Yoga is to be understood as a Path to attain the Highest human Ideal and Goal: The purpose of all Religions, including Hinduism, is to inspire, show, and establish us on the critical-path to attain man’s highest ideal thru’ i) Devotion ii) Knowledge iii) Meditations iv) Karma Yoga. We all work. So, our daily ‘Work, Karma’ (thoughts, words, deeds) and Vocation also becomes a Path to attain Union (Yoga) with our Highest Ideal. Thus, for a Karma Yogi, Ethical and Righteous conduct, Human values, Commitment to Duties, becomes the path of Work as Yoga – Work as Worship; Meditation with eyes open; seeing and Serving God in man and in all creation.
2. Continued from ‘Karma Yoga’ of Vivekananda – House holders as Karma Yogi: He should be devoted to God; the knowledge of God should be his goal of life. Yet he must work constantly, perform all his duties; he must give up the fruits of his actions to God. It is the most difficult thing in this world to work and not care for the result; to help a man and never think that he ought to be grateful, to do some good work and at the same time never look to see whether it brings you name or fame, or nothing at all.
Knowing that mother and father are the visible representatives of God, the householder, always and by all means, must please them. If they’re pleased, God is pleased with them. Children should never speak harsh words to parents. Householder must look after his parents, wife, children, poor. He must not show anger to his wife; never think of other women. He has duties towards people of same village, the poor, any one coming for help. Excessive attachment to food, clothes, dressing should be avoided. He must be pure in heart and clean in body, always active and ready for work. Enemies he must resist, not talk nonsense about non-resistance.
The householder is the basis, the prop, of the whole society. He is the principal earner. The poor, the weak, the children and the women who do not work — all live upon the householder; so, there must be certain duties that he has to perform, and these duties must make him feel strong.
He must struggle hard to acquire knowledge, wealth; he is immoral if idle; because upon him depend hundreds. If he gets riches, hundreds of others will be thereby supported. Hundreds strive to acquire wealth, and thus societies develop, poor and incapable are looked after, great temples, institutions, get built! Going after wealth is not bad; let it be for distribution. The householder is the center of life and society. To acquire and spend wealth nobly, is his worship. Learn from the Vedas to condemn all weakness; strive to be strong, fearless.
2.1 Who is greater, monk or householder? Only these 2 ashrams are relevant today of the 4, earlier. According to the circumstances in which we are placed, student, housewife, monk, ruler, butcher, agriculture, business, we must perform our duties. A sannyasi mustn’t look down on Grihasta and vice versa.
2.2 This thought I will illustrate by two stories (case-studies!): A king used to ask, who is greater? A monk told him “Each, O king, is equally great in his place.” “Prove this to me.” Come follow me then and they came where a crier was proclaiming, ‘the princess will choose her husband’ and she chose a young monk who flatly refused marriage and the accompanying Kingdom.
Atithi devo bhava: In the evening they rested under a tree where a little bird, his wife, three little ones lived. They saw the guests. It was winter, So, the bird flew away, got burning firewood and dropped it before the guests; to which they added fuel and had a fire. But the little bird was not satisfied. “My dear, what shall we do? They are hungry”. The Bird family thought we are householders; it is our duty to feed anyone who comes to the house. So, they plunged themselves into the midst of the fire and perished!
2.3 Each is great in his own place; the Monk told the king. If you want to live in the world, live like those birds, ready at any moment to sacrifice yourself for good of others. If you want to renounce the world, be like that young man to whom the most beautiful woman and a kingdom were as nothing.
2.4 Another case-study: After great tapasya, meditations, a monk burnt down a bird with anger – he was pleased he had attained the power to burn! He came for Bhiksha but the housewife was delaying so he got angry! Immediately she replied, ‘I am not that bird’. Monk was shocked how could she know! She told him that she sincerely looked after her husband and all household duties and that led her to the same goal of God realization as the monk. She directed him to a Butcher who killed and sold meat. He had also attained God realization, simply doing his duties to his parents and family. Vyadh (Butcher) Gita gives his teachings to the Monk on Karma Yoga. Both these are from Mahabharat.
2.5 Every work must necessarily be a mixture of good and evil; yet we are to work. Good and evil will both have their results externally and, internally as good, bad, impressions, ‘samskaras’, on our mind; which then become tendencies. They’re bondages that enslave us. Therefore, the Gita advises, work incessantly but be not attached to the results! Work, but let not the action or the thought produce a deep impression on the mind. Thus, work as Karma Yogi takes us to highest Perfection.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.