Karma Yoga: The path of Action

कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन। 
मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते सङ्गोऽस्त्वकर्मणि॥

కర్మణ్యే వాధికారస్తే మా ఫలేషు కదాచన!
మా కర్మ ఫలహేతుర్భూహ్ మా తే సంగోస్త్వ కర్మణీ!!

Karmanye vadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kadachana!
Ma Karmaphalaheturbhurma Te Sangostvakarmani!!

Lord Krishna espouses in Gita that we should do our work without thinking about the results i.e. without having any expectations on the fruits. And He preaches that results should never be a motivation for us to do our work. That raises two questions. Firstly is it possible at all for people to perform actions (karmas) without any expectation about the results? And secondly, why shouldn’t we think about the results? What should be our motivation to do work, if not the results? We will delve into the issue and find out the answers.

First, is it possible at all for people to work without any expectation about the results? In our modern society we always think about the results first (either consciously or subconsciously) and then only we plan our work. For example, we want to pass exams (result) and so we study (action), we want to have better jobs and so we strive for higher degrees, we want to get relief from illness and so we take medicines, we want our mouth to be fresh and so we brush, we want to reach our destination fast and so we take a flight etc…thus we set our goals first or think of the results we want and then we decide the plan of action or the karma to be performed. If we don’t think of the results, we don’t get the motivation to work and moreover we become confused as to what to do.

Thus, we almost always think of the results before we do any kind of karma. Having said that, we do perform certain actions in our daily life without thinking about the results or the benefits that follow. For example, eating food. When we eat our food we don’t think of the results that follow later i.e. health, fitness, growth etc. Rather we eat food primarily to satisfy our hunger and as we satiate our hunger we experience pleasure. In other words, we eat food because it is pleasurable and not because of the good results that follow later.

Same is the case with having sex. People have sex because they derive pleasure out of that action. To have children is not the prime reason or motivation for lovemaking for any species. It is just that as a couple enjoys sex, they get children as a bonus. If someone does sex for the sake of having children and not for the sexual pleasure, it is likely that they will not be able to perform that action effectively and so the chances of them having children go down. So they not only miss the enjoyment now but also suffer in the future for not having children.

And that brings us to the most important life secret which forms the basis of the Karma Yoga. Never work for the results or the fruits, rather just enjoy the present karma. If you enjoy the present karma, you will perform that well, and fruits will automatically come to you. On the other hand, if you don’t enjoy your karma, you will not be able to perform the karma well and so your chances of getting the fruits become slim. And even if you get the fruits, you will not be able to really enjoy them because by the time those fruits materialize for you, you will have newer goals, targets and worries flooding your mind and you will continue to slog to realize those new expectations. Thus people who work for the results or those who work with goals in mind will always remain stressed. On the other hand, if people do the work not for the results but for the enjoyment in doing the work, not only do they live happily now but also live happily in the future. And that forms the basis of the Karma Yoga.

So if you live happily now, happy moments line up for you automatically. In other words, happiness brews happiness. And each pleasurable action leads to a more satisfying, happy and lasting outcome, and thus we ‘fall’ into a happiness cascade. For example, as we have sex and enjoys the moments, we get kids which again gives us happiness. And as we care for and enjoy the moments with our kids, they grow into happy and responsible citizens and which brings us more happiness. Instead, if we sacrifice those happy moments and engage ourselves in career, business etc, we will be surely deprived of happiness in the future also. That is, if we don’t acknowledge and enjoy the happy moments that are right in front of us, unhappy moments will surely wait for us in the future!!!

Similarly, as we enjoy our food and satiate our hunger, we get the energy to ‘play’ with Nature (cultivation, hunting…). And as we play with Nature and enjoy, we get our livelihood. That is, we are again ready to eat and enjoy. And having played and satiated our hunger, we are ready for a refreshing sleep. And the happiness cycle repeats. Thus health, happiness and livelihood all come together for free in Nature as a package. It’s never that we need to do one thing for livelihood, another for entertainment and something else for health and fitness etc.

And there exist so many ‘plays’ in Nature from cultivation to cooking, child rearing, pottery, weaving, crafting, singing, music, dance etc. One just needs to chose the game that one enjoys the most or plays most comfortably and take up that as one’s occupation.

For most of us, it is usually our family game or family occupation that we will be most comfortable to play with. More over, we can learn that for free from parents from an early age in our own home environment. And more over, as we do our ‘apprenticeship’ under our parents, we remain supportive to them. In other words, for children to learn the livelihood game, they don’t have to sacrifice decades of their valuable life in competitive foreign environments in the name of education nor do they need to ‘rob’ their parents’ hard earnings!

Of course if one doesn’t enjoy one’s family profession, one may choose a profession in which one has passion. One must ask oneself ‘what work do I really enjoy?’ or ‘what work am I really interested in?’. The activities we are really interested are often put aside as ‘hobbies’ or ‘pastimes’ in our modern society and tend to get ignored in our busy life! When you make your hobby as your occupation, then the motivation to work comes from the work itself and not from the results that follow. So you will be able to perform the work, well, and fruits will automatically follow and add to the joy that you have already been experiencing.

It is very important to distinguish whether your passion for a profession is because of the money and the fame that is associated with that profession or because you really enjoy that work. If you have a real passion for the work, you will do that for free with pleasure. If you enjoy painting, you will do it for free. And if you enjoy making pots, you will make them for free. If you really like medical profession and enjoy caring for patients, you will do that also for free. We wouldn’t charge for the activities that we do for our own happiness! Livelihood will never be a problem for people who work with passion and enjoy their profession, and not even for the ‘low profile’ professions.

If your ‘passion’ towards a profession is because of the money and fame and not really because you enjoy the work, it is unlikely that you achieve your goals despite your hard work and sacrificing your entire life. On the other hand if you choose the profession in which you really have a passion, then you not only enjoy your life but also you will most likely earn name and fame even though you don’t think of them. So the best way to become famous and make money is again by choosing an occupation that you have a passion for and enjoy most! Of course once you start fully enjoying your profession; money and fame would become secondary to you, in fact you would realize they only come in the way of your happiness.

And knowingly or unknowingly, if one gets steered into doing things that one doesn’t enjoy, it doesn’t mean that one has to continue with the same and suffer the remaining life also. It is never too late to take up the activity or occupation that one enjoys the most and start living happily.

Actually, each occupation is as joyful as any other as long as we play it just to earn our livelihood. But if we start overplaying our profession to earn more than what we really need and start accumulating for the future, that ceases to be a play and becomes painful and stressful, whether it is pottery, cultivation or medicine. Even eating and sex become stressful and painful if one plays them to make money rather than for the enjoyment.

People who practice karma yoga will fulfill all their material desires to the fullest extent and reach a stage of contentment that they no longer desire to live. They enjoy their food, enjoy sexual life, enjoy their children and grand children, enjoy their work, enjoy with their neighbors etc etc. That is they enjoy every moment of their life to the fullest extent and they will reach a stage of total contentment. That is they feel enough of joy. Its just like the satisfaction that people experience when they satiate their hunger with a sumptuous meal. Having enjoyed all the material pleasures, they would happily leave this world for a ‘refreshing sleep’ and reach the highest stage in the happiness cascade i.e. Moksha. That is, people get liberated form the material world and bondages, achieve Union with the ParamAthma and experience the unlimited joy or Bliss.

Apart from Karma Marg, there exist 3 other paths to attain Moksha and experience Bliss as per the Hindu Spiritual philosophy. They are, as we all know: Bhakti Marg (The path of Devotion), Jnana Marg (the path of Wisdom) and Raja Marg (the path of Psychic Realization/ Experience). And each of them is equally effective and enjoyable. Karma Marg and Bhakti Marg are like high ways and represent the most straightforward paths to Moksha, so they are suitable for most ordinary people. On the other hand, Jnana Marg and Raja Marg are like going through a difficult maze with lot of traps, temptations, confusing roundabouts and worm holes. Unless one is highly diligent and open minded, one is sure to get lost in the maze and succumb to false wisdom and weird experiences. Having said that it is upon the foundations of the latter two that the farmer two stand. I will be talking in detail about all those in my upcoming book “ఆనంద శాస్త్రం” (the Science of Happiness).

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  • drgsrinivas  On December 27, 2018 at 7:36 am

    Karma Yoga basically urges people to live for the present. If you learn to live happily now, your future will automatically be happy. So you never have to really plan or save anything for the future. Rather you just have to think for the present and live in the present.


  • drgsrinivas  On December 27, 2018 at 7:42 am

    Life is like a meal. Once you are full, you wouldn’t feel like eating more.
    Similarly if you enjoy your life thoroughly, you wouldn’t feel like living anymore and you would happily walk out of the material world for a ‘refreshing sleep’.


  • drgsrinivas  On December 27, 2018 at 7:46 am

    For one to attain Moksha via Karma Marg, one must perform the actions or the karmas in the right manner i.e one must perform the duties according to the Dharma. And to know what is right and what is not, one would require wisdom or guidance from a Guru who has wisdom.

    For us in the modern era, righteousness, morality or ‘dharma’ implies a hard life style. Spiritual gurus have preached about righteous living and Dharma not to refrain people from enjoying their comforts or not to make them sacrifice their happiness for others but only to help them lead a happy life. ‘Righteousness’ simply implies doing our karmas in the right way or performing the actions in the most effective way so that we gain maximum happiness. Dharma teaches what is best for oneself and what fetches one most happiness. And if we go deep and analyze, it turns out that what is best for oneself will also be best for others (and also for Nature).

    Eating food is joyful but to gain maximum pleasure and satisfaction we must do that in the right way i.e. we must eat the right food at the right time in the right manner. For example we must eat our food only when we are hungry. If you eat when you are hungry, you will get maximum pleasure and also you will be able to enjoy the ‘good food’ that comes for free in Nature. If you eat when you are not hungry, you will not be able to enjoy the good food and you would get habituated to unhealthy foods. Similarly delaying food is also not good. You not only suffer from your hunger, but as your hunger dies out after a while, you will not thoroughly enjoy your food. If one doesn’t get the right food at the right time, one will develop all sorts of odd eating patterns and undue craving for bad food. And if you play in Nature and gather your food by yourself, and prepare your food, you will enjoy that even more better.

    Same thing is the case with lovemaking. One must do it at the right age, right time and right way to derive maximum pleasure and satisfaction. Otherwise people will remain dissatisfied, continue with the craving and resort to all sorts of unhealthy sexual practices which is neither good for them nor for the society.

    And finally, dharma helps us choose the right actions and cautions us to stay away from the false temptations and traps in Nature which could misguide and drag people into a spiral of suffering. For example even though drinking alcohol is a pleasurable action, one must refrain from that because it is followed by long hangover, makes people addictive and leads to ill health and suffering. A right action not only gives pleasure as it happens, but also followed by a more pleasurable outcome.


  • Savvy  On December 27, 2018 at 12:53 pm

    Nice to hear from you. However true nirvana is only thru Jesus Christ. Praise the Lord


    • drgsrinivas  On January 2, 2019 at 6:46 am

      Savvy, you are basically talking about the Bhakti Yoga or the path of devotion. A devotee will have extreme love towards God and will have a longing desire to reach Him. You may call Him as Jesus, I may call call Him as Krishna and others Allah. One who has true love in God will have least interest in the material things and that itself brings happiness and takes oneself closer to God.

      But like true wisdom, true bhakthi or devotion is hard to find in modern society. Fake devotees throng temples and churches to fulfill material desires and not because they have love in God. If people have love in God, why would they ask for something else?

      To fulfill one’s material desires one will have to perform the Karmas in a righteous way and not go to temples. As one fulfills one’s desires and reaches saturation, one gets liberated from them and moves closer to God or Moksha.
      True Bhakti, on the other hand, straight away liberates people of the material desires without the need to perform the actions, and so in a way, Bhakthi Marg represents a more straightforward path to Salvation. But as mentioned above, without true wisdom, true devotion can’t prevail in society.


  • Somu  On January 6, 2019 at 4:41 pm

    its simply fabulous


  • Dr.R. Satyanarayana  On January 12, 2019 at 6:36 pm

    You have rightly encrypted the “Yoga of the Action”…
    Today i learned about performing Karma with selfless activity.
    Thank you for enlightening us.
    Best regards


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