- 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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,
were the captain of football team"!
how do you know!"
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,
Jo the piper! You played flute and clarionet
in school band."
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
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
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.
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
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:
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
"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,
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.