CHAPTER 4

 Karma - brahmarpana - yoga

             This chapter contains 42 verses and is called Karma-Brahmarspan-Yoga. It means the method of offering your Karma to God so that you do not get bound by its fruit. The word "offering" has deep meaning. It is not the same as when you offer something to somebody. What it means will be clear when you read through this chapter.

            After explaining what is Karma-Yoga, Krishna said to Arjuna, "I had taught this Yoga firstly to the Sun-God Vivaswan. He passed it on to his son Manu who, in turn explained it to his son, Ikshwaku. In this way, this Yoga was passed on from one king to another. However, in course of time, this chain was broken, and it disappeared from the world. Now I have again explained it to you because you are my devotee and close friend. And why I have told you? Because this is the secret of life"

            Here Krishna calls Arjuna as His devotee and close friend. To be a friend of God is the penultimate state in the 9-step ladder of Devotional path. When you reach that state of becoming a close friend of God, you can talk to him and tell all your secrets, problems, etc. It is not easy to reach that stage. But since Arjuna was in that stage, Krishna personally explained this secret to him. Another important point to note is that the Dwapar-Yuga was about to finish and Kaliyuga was to start. Krishna wanted this secret to be passed on to the people of Kaliyuga because it is meant for them, "The sun has been there from the beginning of the world, and you as I know, were born in this century. How could you have explained this Yoga to SunGod?" A valid question indeed. In an answer to this question we learn more about God,His Avatars and His Karma. Krishna explained to Arjuna thus.

God as energy

            He took birth many times. Arjuna also was born many times before. But whereas, He is aware of all this births, Arjuna is not. God is not a person with a physical and astral body as we humans are. He is never born, yet He is permanent. He is the original cause. His nature is, we can say, some form of energy which exists all the time. It has no beginning, no end. This energy can manifest itself in any form and shape anywhere, anytime. It supports the Universe. The sun, the moon, the planets and everything that you see or feel is supported by this energy.

Five great elements

            In the beginning when there was nothing, no sun, no wind, no water, no earth, no planets, there was this energy spread everywhere. It had no form, no shape. It just existed. That is the unmanifested God. In course of time, the God released part of this energy into action. This energy when set into motion, created the sky-an open void, a vacant space. It created the Vayu (wind), which occupied this open void, and set itself in motion, which generated Teja (heat). When Teja cooled down,some of it became Aapa (water). When Aapa cooled, some of it became Earth (solid). Thus came into being the five great elements. Aakash (sky), Vayu, Teja, Aapa and Prithui (earth).

            Sun is a part of Teja. It was born. But God was there much before Sun came into being. When Krishna says, He explained this Yoga to the Sun-God, He talks of Himself in His unmanifested form at that time, before the beginning of this world. He is the Master of all beings. The part of His released energy which created the Universe is called "Prakruti" while God the original energy is called "Purusha". He is bigger than His "Prakruti". He makes use of this Prakruti and can manifest into any form by His illusionary power which nobody understands. In this way he takes birth. That does not mean, that He takes a human or any other form, whenever it pleases Him.

God's laws

            His rules for running and governance of this Universe are clear. His appointed deities and demigods perform their Karma faultlessly and as per rules of His Prakruti. This is the reason why Sun shines in the sky for millions of years. We know sun will be there tomorrow and next year and after hundred years. We may get worried whether the milkman comes tomorrow or not because there is going to be transport strike. We may worry if the trains are running on time, or if sugar will be available in the market, because the newspapers mentioned of its shortage. But we never ever worry, not even in dream, whether the sun will be there when we wake up tomorrow.

            We have no worries if the earth in its rotation will go a few centimetres nearer to the sun. If that really happens, all the creatures on the face of this earth may burn alive. We have no fear if the Vayu (wind) will disappear one day and all of us will die for want of air. We take for granted that these elements will always be there. We also believe that, even though millions of meteoroids and other bodies traverse the empty space above, none of them will ever collide with our earth.

            This is because, all movements of these elements and other bodies are governed by rules made by God's Prakruti. They never change and nobody can flout them. It is only given to us humans to make and break our own rules, because we have the right to perform Karma and we are judged in the end by how each Karma is done. Hence there is no reason for Him to manifest as a human being or in any other form. He does so for only one reason. Wherever people go astray from their Dharma and everywhere there is a reign of Adharma (non adherence to the principles of Dharma) He manifests Himself to bring people on the right path. In this way He takes birth in every Yuga (age). The main purpose, or rather the only purpose of His manifesting Himself, is to give protection to the people who stick to their Dharma and punish those who stray away from it. In the Treta Yuga, He took birth as Rama. In the next Dwapar-Yuga He was born as Krishna. In both these ages, He killed the Demons and Rakshasas who harassed the good people and prevented them from doing their Dharma. In those Yugas (ages) the Dharma was to perform Yagnyas-sacrifices in the holy fire. The earth was more of a forest where Rakshasas lived. There were few cities and very few people. Every city had a King who took care of the needs of his subjects.

Age of Kali

            In Kaliyuga, the scene has changed. This is the age of Kali who stands for everything that is evil. He is the ruler of this age. He has been given that authority and power by God. At the same time, life of a human being is reduced to 100 years, as against thousands of years in the past ages. The figure one hundred is average. Some may live longer, some live shorter period. In practice we see very few people crossing the 100 mark and the average drops down to somewhere around 80 years.

            In Kaliyuga, falsehood will dominate and truth will be suppressed. According to Mahabharat, the life of this Yuga is 432.000 years, of which only about 5.000 years have passed. This Yuga started showing its evil power now, and there is a long way to go. There are no Demons or Rakshasas in this Yuga. Then who is going to be a threat to Dharma and what is the Dharma in Kaliyuga? The Dharma is explained in the chapter. The threat to it is the human being itself. Every individual has this Kali in the form of Dhrutarashtra and Duryodhana tendency, residing inside. These two tendencies supported by ego will be the cause for humans to leave the Dharma and go the opposite way. Hence the threat is not from outside. It is from within. It must, therefore, be attacked from within. Hence, God Himself sits in every human heart and gives the power to the soul to conquer the evil enemy through intellect. Because He has given a boon to Kali, to have his own way, God Himself will not do anything to control Kali acting through individual mind.

Yugas-past and present

            In the previous Yugas He descended on earth with His full powers to kill the Demons and uphold the cause of Dharma. In the Kaliyuga He helps the individuals who seek the right path, by giving them His energy by residing inside. Gita was, therefore born not so much for driving out Arjuna's ignorance but for the benefit of the humans in Kaliyuga.

            This is how God comes on earth. His birth and power whether in manifested or unmanifested form is not easy to understand. One who grasps this truth, realizes it fully, gets himself free from the bondage of Karma and finds a place with Him. That means that every Atma, who is nothing but the energy driving the body, returns and merges with Parmatma, the complete energy which is the original cause.

            In order to be near Him, the humans of the previous Yugas had to spend thousands of years to make penance and perform Yagnyas. In Kaliyuga the life span is limited. Hence Krishna said, all you need to do is to direct your intellect on me. Use the intellect in performing all your Karma in the right way but instead of getting your intellect involved in it, let it be centred on God. 

            Those fortunate people who have successfully conquered lust, anger and fear; those who could think of God all the time and develop God consciousness, have been able to free themselves from Karmic bonds. They have found refuge in God.

            In the past ages, when God in person mingled with people, moved freely with them, it was difficult for them, to reach Him i.e. to come out of the birth-death-birth cycle. In Kaliyuga, with a limited span of life, with the responsibility to do Karma and be bound by its laws, with having to spend one's own time to earn money, required for survival, we humans are lucky because we can still attain Moksha. Krishna shows us the way in Gita.

Prayer and worship

            God responds to prayers. A prayer could be in the form of worship performed by Hindus in a Mandir or at home, or it could be a prayer sung from the Holy Bible by a catholic individual in a church or at home, or from the Holy Koran offered by an Islamic follower in the form of Namaj in a Mosque or at home. God does listen to you whether you address Him as Krishna, Allah, Ram, Rahim, Jusus or Jevoham. Because it is the energy that you are addressing. He will respond. But there is a catch. He responds not to your words whether spoken loudly or in your mind. He sees your motive and feeling. He sees your love for Him. He sees your faith and may try your patience. If you have unflinching faith, indefatigable patience and love, He responds. The degree of His response is in direct proportion to your faith and love. If you love Him and Him alone with no room for the thoughts about any individual in your mind any time, He stands by you all the time, ready to serve you, to take care of your needs and to protect you.

            In India, there are numerous ways in which people worship God. Many people even do not know what is God. If you tell them, He is energy, they will run away from you. For a villager, his God may be a stone in some corner. It does not matter. An intellectual modern person may ridicule this stone worship. But if that villager has his faith in that stone being his God, and if his mind and intellect is all the time centred on that, then there is no reason why He, the energy, cannot manifest for him in that stone.

            People may worship any of His known or accepted forms, pray Him in whatever form they please, or look upon Him as a formless energy and pray, ultimately they are on the same path which leads to Him. There may be thousands of different paths, seemingly running in opposite directions, but so long as faith, patience and love is there, ultimately, at some time, they must come to the main road which leads to Him.

One path, one God

            So fear not and doubt not, if you are not a devotee of Krishna. You are free to follow any path, according to any religion and its practices, be sure that ultimately you will go to Him. This is what Krishna has told us in verse 11 of this chapter.

            If you want to go to Rajbhavan in Delhi, it does not matter if you are in Mumbai, or London or Holland or in South America. You may take any route but once you know your goal, you will some day land on the path which leads to Rajbhavan. In the same way, if you know your goal, if you want to attain moksha, if you wish to go to Him, then keep your sense organs directed to Him and take any path, ultimately you will come on the main road which leads to Him. Because there is only one God and there is only one road, that of unselfish, undiluted Love.

Worshipping demigods

            When people worship demigods, there is a reason. Not everybody wants to have Moksha. People, all over the world, generally pray and worship God so that with His blessings they may get success in their Karma. They want their desires to be fulfilled. A married couple, with no issues, even after 8 years of married life, turns to God and prays to have a child. A person without a job may pray to get a job. Students pray to get success in the examination. In India parents always worry when daughters attain a marriageable age. They worship and pray for early and good marriage for the children. In western world, the situation may be different. These boys and girls find their own partner. Yet there, they may have other needs which want to be fulfilled. Since God is some superpower, people pray and seek His help. They do not pray because they love Him. Some want material benefits, some wish to have power. This power could be in various forms v.z. power of a Mantra, (chanting of a scared word, symbolic of God or a demigod) power of "Siddhi" (ability to get what you want), power of healing as well as power to read other's mind, etc., etc.

            To love God means to love every being, including lowly creatures, plants and shrubs. It is not easy but those who want to reach God, have to reach this path of love, which they do reach, even if they have started praying Him for material gains. In this respect, the demigods are better poised to bless an individual. They are God's emissaries with powers. They are not far to reach. Hence many people in rural areas worship demigods and get their desire-born Karma fulfilled e.g. Hanuman is a demigod of physical power and strength. When you please Him by worshipping and following certain rules, such as visiting his Mandir on a Saturday and offering Puja, singing his hymns with faith and reverence, He can ward off dangers lurking in your path. Laxmi, the goddess of wealth can get you out of financial difficulties; Saraswati, the goddess of learning can bless you with knowledge and wisdom, and so on. That is the reason, we find people in rural areas fall into the worship of many demigods and goddesses.

Types of people as per gunas and karmas

            God has created four different divisions based on the three Gunas and the types of Karma. These divisions are named (I) Brahmins, (II) Kshatriyas, (III) Vaishyas and (IV) Shudras. These words stand for the Karma type as explained below.

I) Brahmins: In every society there are some people who are more intelligent, have more grasping power and are in a position to do a lot of good to the society. These people are called Brahmins. They are given the responsibility of appeasing Gods by Mantras and also perform Vedic Karma.

II) Kshatriyas: These people are those who have the ability and bravery to run the country's administration. They can defend the people from any outside attack and forming a suitable hierarchy, enforce discipline.

III) Vaishyas: You also need people to do business. They have to look to the needs of people and get from other sources whatever is needed, such as items of food , groceries, household articles and anything else required for comfortable living. They work on bartender system and give away these items to those who need them, against a fixed price.

IV) Shudras: You also need somebody to maintain cleanliness and pollution free atmosphere in a society. These people are given this type of work and are paid for executing it.

            On the basis of intelligence, those having a very high degree of intelligence are suitable to work as Brahmins, while those with very low degree are fit to work as Shudras.

            This division was necessary to run the affairs of the country, the city or a society. All four divisions are equally important. God did not create any difference in them, and made Karmic laws applicable to all in the same way. It is not that a Brahmin gets more facilities or favours than the Shudra. In the eyes of God all are equal. Their Karmas are judged in the same way. If a Brahmin fails to perform his Karma properly, he is punished in the same manner as a Shudra is punished for failing or neglecting to do his Karma.

            It is a pity that these divisions have lost their true purpose in present times and Shudras are regarded as untouchables, especially in India. This disgusting situation prevailed in India for many years. Great leaders like Mahtma Gandhi, Agarkar, Mahtma Phule, Ambedkar and others have done tremendous amount of work to get rid of the evil, spread in Hindu society by wrong interpretation and wrong application of these four divisions. In spite of their good work for which they suffered the wrath of intelligentsia, this misconcept, of higher and lower status still remains. This is the work of "Kali". In this Yuga he will not allow reign of peace and happiness. With the assistance of the three Gunas and the Karmas they are responsible to, Kali plays with the intellect of people and enjoys feuds, fights, immoral behaviour and all that is based on falsehood. Yet God comes to the rescue of those who do not forsake Him.

God's incarnation or Avatar

            More details about "Gunas and Karma" are given in chapter 14. Even if God is the founder creator of these divisions, He does not become the doer. Everything is done by His Prakruti. He is a silent witness. He resides in everything; from a spec of dust to a human being, and witnesses all. It is only when He feels that the Dharma is being down trodden, He descends on earth and manifests in some form to re-establish the Dharma. In Kaliyuga, because Kali is the appointed supreme authority, God allows him to play havoc. Yet when situation is likely to go out of hand, He sends down His emissaries, the great sages and Bhaktas (devotees) who have come out of the Karmic bondage and taken refuge in Him, to spread His message and turn people from evil to good ways. At times, He Himself comes down as Avatar to re-establish law and order in human minds. In Kaliyuga He does not take Avatar with His full glory and power just as He did in the past Yugas.

            When He takes Avatar thus, His Karmas do not bind Him because He has no desire or interest in the fruit of His Karma. His Karma is benevolent and done with only one purpose, that of maintaining balance. One who realises this, can perform one's Karma likewise and remain free from Karmic bondage.

            Krishna, in verse no. 15, advises Arjuna to carry out his Karma in the same way. He wants Arjuna to give up his negative attitude, resulting out of weakness of mind, and get ready to fight, as that was his right Karma at that point of time. In this way, doing his duty, without thinking or expecting any result and centring his intellect on God, Arjuna would be free of Karmic bondage, whether he wins or loses.

Gita for all - religion no bar

            We, the people of this earth have to understand this and do our Karmas accordingly for our own benefit. You will now understand, that teachings of Gita are not for any one particular race, and practising them in daily life, a non-Hindu will not become a Hindu. You keep your own religion, worship the same God you have been worshipping so far, do not make any change in your religious practices. You need not have an idol or a picture of Krishna in your house. All you have to do is to understand, realize and put into practice Gita teachings only to be able to lead a better, more meaningful peaceful life, get prosperity, happiness and Moksha.

            After knowing the effect of Karma, the bondage it creates and the fact that  nobody can refrain, even for a second, from performing Karma, many wise people are baffled. They still fail to see how one can break this bondage if one has to go on performing Karma throughout one's life. Krishna, therefore, has explained in verses 16 to 22, what is Karma, what is AKarma (absence of Karma), what is Vi karma and how to remain aloof from the fruit of Karma (Karmic bondage) even while performing Karma. Very deep is the Knowledge of Karma.

Karma:

            In Kaliyuga, the only thing that a human being can do is Karma. Hence its importance is understood. It becomes the first responsibility of every grown up individual to thoroughly understand all the aspects of Karma and then explain them to the younger generation and also to those whose limited grasping power keeps them away from true understanding of it.

Physical karma:

            Let us, therefore, first see what is physical Karma. Every action such as watching a picture frame on the wall, drinking tea, taking a shower, is Karma on the physical level. As said before, Karma is motion or movement. When you sit still in meditation or otherwise without moving any part of the body, the opening and closing of your eyelids is a Karma. You breathe and Karma is performed. Your feet get cramps and you change your posture, you perform a Karma. Somebody brings you a cup of tea and you extend your hand to take it, you perform Karma. This is on physical level. Even in deep sleep, when body is akin to a dead corpse, your breathing does not stop. Karma is on.

Mental karma:

            Karma also takes place by the mind, which is in motion all the time. You sit in your chair and your mind wanders off to far away places. It visits the scene where you had gone last year on a holiday. It tries to remember what all you did, whom you met and so on. Karma is being performed. Karma on physical level may be stopped for a while but on mental level it goes on continuously.

Karma by sense organs:

            There are other entities which force the mind to move. They are the Indriyas or sense organs. In all, there are 10 senses, five of which are knowledge. They are sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste. Their only job is to contact the external objects and gather information about them. They also have movement. While sitting in your house, you glance through the window. You see some trees lining the compound wall of your neighbour. The trees do not interest your sense of sight, so the mind plays with any other object of interest which is resident in its huge store house called "Chitta". This storehouse is as large as this world and deeper than the deepest ocean. It has room for anything and everything. It stores the impressions of every sense object perceived by the mind. It is like a shelf on which innumerable computer discs, each containing millions of records in micro form, are stored. With a slight external stimulus, the right disc is located and the desired record is brought out on the mental screen. Let us illustrate. You are travelling in a train. Some passenger gets in at the next stop and occupies a seat opposite you. You just look at him and then turn your eyes to read the book in your hand. You don't know him. After a few minutes, he calls your name and you look up, questioningly.

            He asks, "Are you not John, who studied in St. Mary's High school, say twenty years ago."

"Yes", you say. Now your mind is in motion, going through the shelves, trying to trace the record of this man, who knows you but you have no memory of having met him before. He further says,

"You were the captain of football team"!

"Yes, how do you know!"

"Do you remember a boy named Joseph, who was in your class?" He asks.

            Now your mind has some clue, a pointer you may say. With this name and location, your mind gets the exact disc and brings out the correct record on your mind's screen. You blurt out in dismay and apparent joy,

"Joseph! Jo the piper! You played flute and clarionet  in school band."

"That's it! That is me. How are you John!"

            Then you close the book and start a conversation which brings about old memories, which were almost forgotten by you. But no! not by your mind. Every single Karma that you had performed in those years, was recorded and stored. No Karma ever gets wiped out.

            I was telling you about the incident, of you watching the trees through your glass window. The sense of sight has nothing special to convey. Suddenly you see a young girl emerging out from behind the bush with a pair of scissors and a clipper in her hands. She is about to cut some overgrown branches. Now the sense of sight has some food to chew. It sets in motion and passes on the information to your mind. The sense of sight has performed a Karma.

            If it says to itself, "My, My! What a beautiful girl, what a lovely figure! I have not seen her before. May be she is a guest. I wish to know her. Can I get closer to her and have some relationship?" Now the sense of sight is influencing the mind which thinks fast. The sense is doing a Karma with some object. The Karma is branded. The sense pulls the mind out of its reverie and makes it more active. Mind, in the meanwhile, has informed the Vasana which is stirred. It sends a signal. "It will be good to have her, if it is possible. I will be very pleased," it says.

            The mere sight of this girl is creating thoughts of passion and lust in you. Now the mind draws in, your intellect. The "Raja" Guna in the sense, as well as in the mind and intellect is active. Imagination takes wings and Karma takes colour. You are just sitting, doing nothing yet you are performing a Karma which gets branded as good, bad or harmless, depending upon the direction and the speed with which you think and imagine.

            In the case of the man, your childhood colleague, whom you met on the train, your sense of sight did not do any Karma, except to let you know that there is another passenger, now occupying the seat in front of you. But when he called you by name, your sense of hearing got into action. It activated the mind and the rest of the Karma was done by the mind along with the two senses, sight and hearing. They were aiding the mind to get to the long forgotten micro dot record of this man.

Karma by Intellect:

            When your mind pulls your intellect in looking at the girl next door and fills it with lusty thoughts, intellect starts working. It says "why not get up, go to her and introduce myself? Maybe ask her to come in for a cup of tea. May be I could help her in cutting those overgrown branches." The intellect is supplying ideas to the mind. Karma is being performed by the intellect.

            Now all the three i.e. the sense organs (you are still seeing the girl), the mind and the intellect are at work. Karma is at a rapid progress. Finally what happens is not the topic under discussion. All that we have to know is how Karma takes place. Do not forget, while your Karma is happening at a rapid pace, good or bad or immoral or benevolent colours, you are sitting in your chair, apparently doing nothing.

Karma during sleep:

            Many times, the Vasana gets troubled. It has emitted certain desire but it is not getting fulfilled. Vasana is active. You sleep. Your desire takes many forms. Your mind remains active. You dream. Karma is being performed by the mind in dream stage.

            There is a story of King Harischandra. Hundreds of thousands years ago, this king ruled. He was known for his truthful reign, honesty and sincerity of words. Every single Karma of his, was of a high moral degree. He was a disciple of the great sage Vasishtha. There was another equally great sage Vishwamitra who said to Vasishtha, " I am going to put to test your disciple, king Harischandra." Vasishtha agreed.

            Harischandra had a dream. In his dream he gave away all his kingdom to a Brahmin. When he woke up, he told his wife, Queen Taramati, what he had done. She said, "O! sire, it was only a dream!" But it was not so. The next morning, a Brahmin who looked exactly the same as the one, the king had seen in his dream, appeared before the king when his court was in session. He said, "O! king, you gave away all your kingdom to me last night. Now I have come to take it."

            All the people were aghast. Queen was also shocked. She sat speechless, wondering what the king would do. The king was overjoyed. Beaming with happiness, he said, "Thank my stars, you have come. I was getting nervous that my word was going to lose its character. Come near and be ready to receive what I promised." So saying he asked his Guru, the sage Vasishtha, to perform the necessary ritual for giving away as "Dana" (donation) his kingdom to this Brahmin. Vasishtha knew who the Brahmin was. He realized that from now on the King and the Queen and the little Prince were going to experience untold misery, because the sage Vishwamitra was going to take a severe test. King Harischandra gave away the kingdom, stepped down from the throne and awaited the Brahmin's next order. The Brahmin asked him and his wife and child to remove the royal clothes, made them wear the bare minimum clothes required to cover the body and banished them from the kingdom.

            The point is that the King knew that even in dream he had performed a Karma.

            So, Karma takes place all the time, in wakeful, dream or deep sleep state; and it is performed on physical, senses, mind and intellect levels. All this while the Atma sits as a witness. He is there in the body to supply it the energy to live as long as the term of life is not over. That is Karma. Now let us understand Vikarma.

Vikarma

                 Vikarma is Karma which is not performed in accordance with the norms or accepted practices. When a Karma starts, it could result into many other Karmas or Vikarmas. Let us take an illustration.

            Mohan is a social leader, in your small town. The election of the corporators to the Municipality is on hand. Mohan stands as a candidate. He knows many people. Yet he is not the only candidate. There are others in the fray. All of them carry on their election  campaign. They print and distribute leaflets, stating what will they do when elected. Posters are stuck on walls. Banners are hung from posts and tree branches. The propaganda machinery of all candidates is working in full swing.

            Mohan takes the opportunity to personally meet all the houses in his constituency. He genuinely wants to take in hand and solve their problems. He decides, whether he is elected or not, he will work for the benefit of these people on social level. All these new thoughts and his physical action of meeting people form good Karma resulting from his main Karma of contesting the election. He has saved some money, which he puts in the campaign. Good Karma. He has to borrow money. His intention is to pay back with interest every penny  borrowed for the election. Good thought and therefore, good Karma. Days pass on. The "D" day is just two days ahead. His volunteers tell that all other candidates are using unfair means to woe the voters. Unless Mohan adopts some tactics he cannot win. He needs those few additional votes from other camps. They suggest "bogus voting". Mohan consents. He asks his men to prepare a list of voters who are not in town. He tells his volunteers to pick up men and women, pay them if necessary, and send them to the voting booths in the early morning and make them vote for him in the names of those absentees. This Karma is Vikarma.

            It may not be wrong to do so because everybody is doing this, or something like this, to win. Being honest and sincere to one's principles does not do any good in politics. If Mohan does not want to adopt such methods, he might stay home as well. But he is in the contest. He wants to win and has good intentions to help the public. He could move motions and get them passed to build public utilities, have a decent library, keep playgrounds free of encroachments, supply water to those areas where people have acute water shortage throughout the year. He wants to do good deeds, which is possible if he gets elected. And he can get elected only if he adopts some unfair tactics. So he justifies his Karma. Even then the fact remains that this is a Vikarma, not legal, not correct. He gets elected. Now he sees that he can make money. Builders, contractors, shop owners, vendors, vehicle owners, hotel and restaurant owners approach him for small favours and pay him for them. He sees nothing wrong in doing so. He gives them licences, signatures, permissions and takes money from them. All this Karma is Vikarma.

            A student appears for examination. He has not studied well. He resorts to copying. His Karma is Vikarma.

            You owe money to a friend. In the times of your need you had borrowed from him. Your need was over. Now you have lot of money. You can pay him back. He, being good natured, does not ask you. You say to yourself "He is not asking. May be he has forgotten. So let it be. I want to return his money but will do it later." This thinking is Vikarma.

            You are a purchase manager in your company. You place orders and purchase many items from various vendors. You buy quality pens in bulk. The cost is Rs.15/- per pen. You ask the vendor to inflate the invoice and show it at Rs.18/- per item, thereby making three rupees profit for yourself. This is company's money. You say, "I am taking only 3 Rupees per item. My company can afford to pay much more than that." True, yet your Karma is branded as Vikarma.

Akarma:

            Now let us see what is Akarma. It simply means "No Karma". But it does not mean, staying away from doing anything. Because your mind is constantly in motion and hence performing Karma. Abstaining from one's duty amounts to Vikarma.

            You are a married man with two young school going kids. You stop working because you reason "I don't want to do any Karma because it will cause bondage. I want to be free from it. I want to attain Moksha." Your reasoning is baseless. It is your responsibility and duty towards your wife and children to earn money and maintain them. You are shirking that responsibility and that is Vikarma.

 

            Hence not doing something which you are responsible to do, amounts to Vikarma and not Akarma.

            So what is Akarma? It means doing a Karma but in such a manner that in the end it becomes Akarma, or "No Karma". Since Karma creates a bondage, "No Karma" results into no bondage. So let us now try to understand how and why this bondage is created.

            Desire leads to Karma, but attachment to the fruit or result of that Karma creates bondage.

            You are studying for a public service commission examination. It is important for you to pass because then you will get a good job. You have a very strong desire for it. It makes you work hard. The desire is transformed into Karma. Examination is over. Karma is finished. Now forget about it. If you think from time to time about the result and become anxious and a little bit nervous, you have a strong attachment to the Karma you have already performed. In the end whether you pass or fail, the attachment that you held, creates bondage. You cannot be free from the life cycle. Your attachment is etched on your mind. But after your hard work in your studies, you appear for the examination; and when that is over, just drop the subject from your mind. Your desire made you perform a Karma. It was not a Vikarma. You have done it well. Now it is over. Forget about the outcome and accept it in the same spirit whether you pass or fail. If you pass, say "Good, my efforts have been rewarded." If you fail, in the same frame of mind, say," its okay. I should have put in more efforts." Then forget about the result and concentrate on doing that what you have to do next. If successful, apply for job. If failed, start studying again if you want to reappear. If not, do something else. your Karma now becomes Akarma.

            You are a handy man who can do all sorts of jobs. You live modestly and have no complaints. In another house, two blocks away, lives a rich man who distances himself from people not as affluent as he is. One day he is throwing a party on the occasion of his wedding anniversary. It is Sunday. Something goes wrong and his kitchen has given away. It needs re-fixing. He does not find anybody to do the job on Sunday. He has met you a couple of times. He calls you and asks if you can fix up his kitchen, at least, temporarily. You agree and do the job, spending a few hours of your morning time. He thanks you and you come home. He has told you about the party. He has invited some of your neighbours but not you. When you leave his house, after finishing the kitchen, even at that time he does not invite you.

            You don't want money from him. You have done some service to a neighbour. It is your vow not to work on Sunday and not to receive any money if at all you have to job on Sunday. He offers to pay you and you thankfully refuse to take any money. You have done your Karma which is good. If you forget about it, as if you had not been to his house, you have no attachment to the Karma you did. It becomes Akarma. But if you start nursing a grief and entertain a somewhat hurt feeling, that he did not have even the courtesy to invite you, then you are doing Vikarma.

            Your Karma of fixing his kitchen is over and out. It has no connection or relation to his Karma of not inviting you for the party. That is his Karma. Why should you get involved mentally, in what he was doing? You do, because of your ego which is hurt. You are somebody in society, having some status. Your mind says, "This man was so nice while his work was being done by me. After that he behaves differently. He may be affluent. So what! He should have invited me." The hurt ego gives rise to the dormant Duryodhana tendency which shouts "Look, this man is not good. He is not for you." When this tendency grows and becomes abnormal it makes you think all others must live and work for you. Think it over. Do not connect the two Karmas. You have done yours. It is over. It is finished. Now drop it from your thoughts. Why waste such a glorious job, you accomplished by doing some good neighbourly service, by musing about it and then instead of letting your Karma become Akarma, turning into Vikarma?

            I hope you have understood by now what is Karma, what is Vikarma and what is Akarma. Karma cannot be avoided. Refusing to do a Karma which you are duty bound to do, you perform Vikarma. By becoming detached to your Karma and letting it drop from your mind, once it is done, your respective Karma becomes Akarma. He, who understands this well and leads his life in such a way, that all his Karma is rendered Akarma, attains peace and Moksha . This non attachment to own Karma is possible when the intellect is steady. Such a person is a real Dnyani or pundit. Mere knowledge of scriptures and shastras does not make one "Dnyani". You may not know how to read and write but if all your Karmas become Akarma and your intellect is steady, you are "Dynani". There is nothing more for you to learn or achieve. He who has got rid of attachment to all his Karmas, remains aloof from the Karmic bondage even when he performs many Karmas all the time.

            When you perform your Karmas in this way, you gain control on your desires, your mind and body works for and not against you. The whole surrounding world does not create any impact on you and even when you do all your physical Karmas, they do not bind you. This is what Krishna says in verse no. 21.

            The lesson to be learnt, therefore, is that perform your duties in such a way that no Vikarma takes place and every Karma becomes an Akarma.

Freedom from Karmic Bondage:

            He who is satisfied with what he gets and does not become a victim of dualities like gain and loss, who has no envy in him and who treats success and failure on same level, gets freedom from bondage, no matter what Karma he performs. -verse no. 22.

            The words "satisfied with what he gets" are misinterpreted often. Some people think that you should not work hard to get more and more money, and thus labour to satisfy every whim of your sense. They feel that Gita says, just work so much that you earn your wages or get money from your business which is enough for your and your family's maintenance. Spend rest of the time in pursuit of self realisation, doing bhajans, pooja, meditation etc.

            I do not agree with above view because it goes against the rule of Karma and Krishna. If you are a clerk in a company, you do your work according to your Dharma. In course of time, you will get promotions and you will rise. You may get an opportunity to work for another company with higher salary and perks. You are free to accept that job. You do not have to say, well I am satisfied with what I have and refuse to change. That is not your Dharma.

            Arjuna, when refused to fight, implied that "I am satisfied with what I have, I do not want anything more. Let them have what they want." But Krishna scolded him. He called him near impotent, coward, timid man. He compelled him to accept challenge. If this is so, how can you refuse responsibilities which, naturally, will bring in more money, higher position and status? This is what you are expected to do.

            If you are a businessman, you should not say, I do not want to expand", when you have opportunities. It is like Arjuna running away from challenges of life. Are you a coward? Are you afraid of competition? No, you are not. Then work hard. Do not have your mind focused on getting more money. focus it on accepting and carrying out challenging jobs, be in your service or profession. Yet keep one fact in mind that you may not always be successful. Sometimes you will win, other times you will lose. You will make profit and earn lot of money, yet occasionally you may lose. Sometimes you may lose much. Do not get elated when you prosper, neither panic when you go down the ladder. Accept what you get and be happy with yourself.

            You are a medical practitioner. You are very good in your profession. You earn Rs.2000/- a day. Your wife is also in the same profession. She works independently and earns the same. You have no liabilities. You have got yourself a good house and furnish it beautifully. There are two cars in your garage. Your earnings increase. You have enough money to buy a weekend house on a hill station. You live in luxury. Should you say "I am satisfied with what I have " and stop treating more patients? That is not according to your Dharma. If the Goddess of Laxmi is pleased with you, joyfully take what you get. Think of opening a new clinic or a hospital where more patients can be treated. Surge ahead, take responsibilities and challenges. Keep yourself busy in doing your Dharma-Karma. You may double or treble your income. But, if by a stroke of bad luck you happen to lose all the earned money you invested in your new venture, do not become nervous. Be happy with yourself and live with whatever you have. Do not envy thosewho have not ventured and not lost. They may laugh and jeer at you. They do not know what they do. They will pay heavily for their Vikarma. You will get rich dividends for your Karma.

            Do not forget you, your wife and the others who redicule you will leave this physical body one day. Nobody will live for ever. All of you will be judged and all of you will get new life. At that time you will be given more and better opportunities, which were cut short in previous human life. This is nature's law, formulated by God. So the lesson is "work, accept challenges, expand your field of work and do it in such a manner that you derive joy from it, never thinking of the end result.

            When you aspire to progress, yet are not attached to your Karma, you are freed from its bondage. You have earned money and bought a house at your native place. You have thought of living there in the last few years. The house is furnished and you have kept an honourable man to look after it, maintain it in your absence. You are still working in another place or another country. It so happens that your work keeps you away from your house at your native place. Do not even think of that house and the investment you made. The Karma is over. Get your mind away from it. Your desire to build a house is done with. Your desire to live there is yet unfulfilled. Your present work keeps you away from going there. Have no thoughts about that house. Be detached from it totally. If, later you happen to go and live there, well and good. But whether you can do so or not should be the same for you. Take joy in your work and be happy with yourself, what you have. Never think of what you lost, what you do not possess or what you own but cannot enjoy. All these thoughts will create bondage and you will not be freed. But concentrate on your Karma, do it well and keeping your intellect fixed on God, try to keep it steady, so that the mind stops its aimless wandering. This is the way to get rid of desires. Your desire to live in your house has no meaning at present when you are performing some good Karma, far away from that house. So do not hold that desire. Cast it off. Otherwise it floats in the mind and floating desires are always a heavy burden which take away your happiness and peace.

            He who gets rid of his floating desires and puts into action all other desires which need to be actioned, concentrates on his Karma and then when it is finished, casts of the original desire also, because it is put into action, gets freed from bondage. He does not entertain likes and dislikes, he has no hatred; his mind is steady on the "Dnyana" and his Karma becomes a Yagnya. He who performs such Yagnic Karma gets freed from Karmic bondage.

Yagnya Karma:

            In the past Yugas, Yagnya Karma was important. A fire was lit and Brahmins sat around it chanting mantras. They poured ghee and other articles in the sacred fire as sacrificial objects according to the Yagnic ritual. At that time, everything was offered to God. The king who performed the Yagnya had his mind fixed on one thing - God. Naturally his reward was also God. Doing everything for God, thinking only about him, changed their minds into God. You are not what you look or behave. You are what you think. You think evil! You will be an evil person. You think God, you will merge with God. In the past Yugas, Yagnya Karma gave this opportunity to kings and Brahmins. Others who participated in this Karma also received same benefits because they lived in God-surrounding and also thought God.

            There are different types of Yagnyas. Some Yogis perform Yagnya to reach heaven after death. Thus, their Yagnya is to please demigods like Sun, Indra etc. The sacrifices vary according to what pleases a particular demigod. Others do Yagnya for the sake of Supreme God, so as to reach Him after death. They are not interested in Heaven. Their offering is their mind and intellect. It means that when they pour ghee into the sacred fire while Mantras are being chanted, they have their minds and intellect totally dedicated to God.

Yagnya in Kaliyuga

            In the present times, in this Kaliyuga, Yagnya is performed in different ways. You can sacrifice your senses in the fire of mind control, or you can even sacrifice the sense objects in the fire of senses. Many people perform these Yagnyas. Sacrificing senses means, train and discipline your mind to such an extent that it refuses to accept what the senses bring in. This is possible when mind is turned inside and focused on God, through intellect. Sacrificing sense objects means training the senses in such a way that they refuse to entertain any object. Eyes only see but do not generate a feeling. Ears hear but have no impact of the words heard, and so on. This is not easy and hence such Karma is called Yagnya Karma.

            Others who aspire for self realization, create the fire of mind control and offer all the functions of the senses as oblation into the fire. They also sacrifice the various Karmas of the life breath in that fire. The air of life force that we breathe in is divided into five parts called "Pancha prana" meaning five pranas. They are termed, Prana, Apana, Vyana, Udana and Samana. They reside in heart, anus, throat, joints and one circulates through the body. They help movement of all parts by supplying energy within. Sacrificing them means considering all internal actions as of God and for God.

            Some people give away money in charity. This is called Dravya (money)dan (giving away in charity). Some go to forests and do penance. Some perform the eight fold Yoga. Some make strict vows and spend their time in studying of Vedas and try to get supreme knowledge.

            Some concentrate on food items and sacrifice them with disciplined control and methodic regularity so that they eat less and less food. All these people who perform various types of Yagnyas aim to destroy their sins. There are yet some people who practice dissolving the outgoing breath into the coming, and then that into the outgoing. They aim to remain in trance, finally stopping all breathing.

            Having explained the Yagnya Karma Krishna says to Arjuna, " All these and other Yagnyas are recommended on this planet. He who does not do any of them, has no happiness or peace in this life, what of next? The base of all these Yagnyas is Karma. One who knows this and performs a Yagnya is freed of bondage.

Superiority of Dnyanayagnya

            In the degree of greatness, the Yagnya of Dnyana (supreme knowledge) is superior to the Yagnya of doing charity, the reason being that the purpose of all Yagnyas is getting rid of Karmic bondage and acquiring knowledge of the self. It means sacrifices  done to actain Brahma Dnyana are superior to sacrifices made to reach heaven or to get other material things.

Who can do it?

            Krishna tells Arjuna in verse nos. 34 and 35, "If you wish to learn all this, you can approach those wise people who have attained self realization and are performing their Karmas in a sacrificial manner, offering the fruit to God. Bow to them with humility and respect. Ask them to bless you and remove your doubts. Serve them, be humble. They will satisfy you. Your ignorance will be driven away by their advice and teaching, and you will get enlightenment. Once you reach that stage, you will not entertain stupid and silly thoughts and be able to see all beings in Me and also in you without difference.

            This path is open to all. It is not that only good and virtuous people can follow this path. Even the greatest of the great sinner has got the right to this path and get rid of his ignorance about self. He can also get enlightenment.

            One of the classic examples of this doctrine is the sage Valmiki who wrote the great epic "Ramayana". His name was Valya Koli and his profession was to kill people and snatch their belongings. This was his earning with which he maintained himself and his family. In that age, instead of concrete jungle as we see in this Kaliyuga, there were real forests everywhere, with a few cities in between. Valya lived in one such forest which was situated in such a place that people had to cross it to go to other cities for their business and lively hood. Valya would hide behind some tree to seek an opportunity. He waylaid passers-by, killed them mercilessly, as if it was the essential part of his profession. He had thus killed innumerable innocent men and women. Who could be a greater sinner than Valya? Yet when the great sage Narada, once passed through the forest, Valya stopped him and said, "Be ready to die".

            In the dialogue that followed, Narada's upadesha had such and effect on Valya that he gave up his profession of killing people. He sat under a tree fixing his mind on God, the energy within, and chanted the Mantra "Ram", as was given to him by Narada. This Valya, the murderer, was transformed and became the great sage, Maharshi Valmiki.

Divine knowlede - Dnyana

            Just as a blazing fire devours everything that is thrown in it and reduces big wooden logs to ashes, the fire of divine knowledge burns all Karmas. Hence, in the study of self, when you reach that level where your understanding surpasses all levels and there is nothing else to be learnt because you have obtained the knowledge of self, all your Karmas in this life as well as in the previous lives, which are yet to come to fruition, get burnt. You live as long as you have to to complete your allotted life span. But all the future Karmas, that you perform in the balance period of remaining life on earth, become Akarma and you are not bound by them. You attain Moksha.

            There is nothing more pious than Divine knowledge, Dnyana, the knowledge of self. A Karma Yogi, in due course, reaches a stage where his ignorance of the self and the world vanishes and he becomes a Dnyani. We have seen what is Karma.

            Karma Yoga means the skill with which you perform your Karma so that it becomes Akarma in the end.

Faith and Dnayana

            There are two kinds of people in this world.(a) Those who have faith and (b) those who lack faith. People with faith, dedicated to pursue knowledge of self, and who succeed in controlling the senses are eligible to get self realisation. They become Dnyani. Then they are blessed with eternal peace. But those who are ignorant, who lack faith, whose minds are always saturated with doubts are unfortunate. They do not get peace on this planet nor do they go to heaven. They return to earth in some physical form including human, as per their Karma. They undergo untold misery.

            Finally in the last two verses nos. 41 and 42 Krishna says, "Arjuna, he who has succeeded in turning all his Karma into Akarma, has got rid of all his doubts and received answers to all his queries by acquiring self knowledge, is not bound by his Karma. Hence, cast of all doubts from your mind. They arise because of ignorance. Now that you have heard everything, rest yourself in self knowledge and be prepared to do your Karma- Yoga". Krishna, thus, tells Arjuna to do his duty (fight the war) without attachment. Performing his duty in this manner means surrendering or offering all your Karma to God, realising that everything comes from Him and ends into Him. Karma performed thus goes to God and does not return to you.

             This is Karma - Brahmarpan-Yoga

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