Monday, August 31, 2020

The unattached has no fear

….. only to selfishness comes fear. He who has nothing to desire for himself, whom does he fear, and what can frighten him? What fear has death for him? What fear has evil for him? So if we are Advaitists, we must think from this moment that our old self is dead and gone. The old Mr., Mrs., and Miss So-and-so are gone, they were mere superstitions, and what remains is the ever-pure, the ever-strong, the almighty, the all-knowing — that alone remains for us, and then all fear vanishes from us. Who can injure us, the omnipresent? 

All weakness has vanished from us, and our only work is to arouse this knowledge in our fellow beings. These doctrines are old, older than many mountains possibly. All truth is eternal. Truth is nobody’s property; no race, no individual can lay any exclusive claim to it. 

Truth is the nature of all souls. Who can lay an, special claim to it? But it has to be made practical, to be made simple (for the highest truths are always simple), so that it may penetrate every pore of human society, and become the property of the highest intellects and the commonest minds, of the man, woman, and child at the same time. All these ratiocinations of logic, all these bundles of metaphysics, all these theologies and ceremonies may have been good in their own time, but let us try to make things simpler and bring about the golden days when every man will be a worshipper, and the Reality in every man will be the object of worship. (II, 357 – 358)

Truly there is no place for selfishness in life. Selfishness is an uninvited guest who has managed to enter our house due to our ignorance and negligence.  The more you entertain it the more will it be difficult to send it away. Every religion extols the glory of unselfishness. To achieve it the path lies through renunciation and service. Vedanta describes the spiritual principle behind unselfishness. We should be able to eradicate selfishness totally in the light of vedantic vision of Oneness. Otherwise there is a likelihood of our slipping down in our spiritual progress. Our puranas are full of illustrations of such falls which have happened to many a great seeker and deprived them of their final acheivement.

Friday, August 28, 2020

‘Swadharme nidhanam sreyah’

Every man should take up his own ideal and endeavour to accomplish it. That is a surer way of progress than taking up other men’s ideals, which he can never hope to accomplish. For instance, we take a child and at once give him the task of walking twenty miles. Either the little one dies, or one in a thousand crawls the twenty miles, to reach the end exhausted and half-dead. That is like what we generally try to do with the world. All the men and women, in any society, are not of the same mind, capacity, or of the same power to do things; they must have different ideals, and we have no right to sneer at any ideal. Let every one do the best he can for realising his own ideal. Nor is it right that I should be judged by your standard or you by mine. The apple tree should not be judged by the standard of the oak, nor the oak by that of the apple. To judge the apple tree you must take the apple standard, and for the oak, its own standard. (I, 41)

‘Swadharme nidhanam sreyah

Paradharmo bhayavaha’ –

 is explained by Sri Krishna in Bhagavat Gita. Swamiji introduces this idea in Karma Yoga. To use the modern technology, when we work in the field to which we are best suited by birth and training our work would be tension free. The reason is that it has become part of the character or Swabhava. One is able to work with great relaxation and satisfaction. As time went on, unfortunately such activities became more and more confined to particular sections (castes)  in the society,  and became concretised as Kula Dharma. However, it is a fact, that executing Kula Dharma one is able to manifest the divinity (freedom) within, which is what work is meant for. 

Thursday, August 27, 2020

‘Ma te sangostu akarmani’

Inactivity should be avoided by all means. Activity always means resistance. Resist all evils, mental and physical; and when you have succeeded in resisting, then will calmness come. It is very easy to say, “Hate nobody, resist not evil,” but we know what that kind of thing generally means in practice. When the eyes of society are turned towards us, we may make a show of non-resistance, but in our hearts it is canker all the time. We feel the utter want of the calm of non-resistance; we feel that it would be better for us to resist. If you desire wealth, and know at the same time that the whole world regards him who aims at wealth as a very wicked man, you, perhaps, will not dare to plunge into the struggle for wealth, yet your mind will be running day and night after money. This is hypocrisy and will serve no purpose. Plunge into the world, and then, after a time, when you have suffered   and enjoyed all that is in it, will renunciation come; then will calmness come. So fulfill your desire for power and everything else, and after you have fulfilled the desire, will come the time when you will know that they are all very little things; but until you have fulfilled this desire, until you have passed through that activity, it is impossible for you to come to the state of calmness, serenity, and self-surrender. (I, 40)

In Bhagavat Gita through his eloquent explanation of Karma Yoga Sri Krishna helped Arjuna to come out of his psychological confusion. He also warned Arjuna not to fall  prey to laziness. Laziness and indifference to one’s duties have become our national character, the beginnings of which Swamiji must have seen and felt during his travels across the country.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

‘Karmanyevadhikaraste ma phaleshu kadachana’

All outgoing energy following a selfish motive is frittered away; it will not cause power to return to you; but if restrained, it will result in development of power. This self-control will tend to produce a mighty will, a character which makes a Christ or a Buddha. Foolish men do not know this secret

Even the lowest forms of work are not to be despised. Let the man, who knows no better, work for selfish ends, for name and fame; but everyone should always try to get towards higher and higher motives and to understand them. “To work we have the right, but not to the fruits thereof:” Leave the fruits alone. Why care for results? If you wish to help a man, never think what that man’s attitude should be towards you. If you want to do a great or a good work, do not trouble to think what the result will be. (I, 33 – 34)

Those who want to transform Karma into Karma Yoga and thus attain peace, happiness and spiritual progress must take care of three things. Firstly, he should give up the sense of doership, that is, the idea, ‘ I am the doer’. Secondly, one must try not to superimpose our likes and dislikes on the work we do, doing only what brings happiness to oneself rejecting the contrary ones. Third and most important point is never to be over anxious about the results of action. Such an evaluation will lead us on to the ideals of ‘ pravriti and nivriti’. Nivriti leads to peace and happiness while pravriti drags us down to the mire of samsara.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

We help ourselves, not the world

Our duty to others means helping others; doing good to the world. Why should we do good to the world? Apparently to help the world, but really to help ourselves. We should always try to help the world, that should be the highest motive in us; but if we consider well, we find that the world does not require our help at all. This world was not made that you or I should come and help it. I once read a sermon in which it was said, “All this beautiful world is very good, because it gives us time and opportunity to help others.” Apparently, this is a very beautiful sentiment, but is it not a blasphemy to say that the world needs our help? We cannot deny that there is much misery in it; to go out and help others is, therefore, the best thing we can do, although in the long run, we shall find that helping others is only helping ourselves. (I, 75)

Swamiji must have tried very hard to imprint this idea that ‘we help ourselves and not the world’ on his western listeners. In his book on Karma Yoga he has utilised one entire chapter to describe this very intricate idea. As an example he narrates a very simple experiement he did as a child with some white mice. “They were kept in a little box in which there were little wheels, and when the mice tried to cross the wheels, the wheels turned and turned and the mice got anywhere. So it is with the world and our help in it. The only help is that we get moral exercise”. Continuing Swamiji reminds us that “Yet we must do good; the desire to do good is the highest motive power we have, if we know all the time that it is a privilege to help others.”

Monday, August 24, 2020

Pravritti and Nivritti

Here are two Sanskrit words. The one is Pravritti, which means revolving towards, and the other is Nivritti, which means revolving away. The “revolving towards” is what we call the world, the “I and mine”; it includes all those things which are always enriching that “me” by wealth and money and power, and name and fame, and which are of a grasping nature, always tending to accumulate everything in one centre, that centre being “myself”. That is the Pravritti, the natural tendency of every human being; taking everything from everywhere and heaping it around one centre, that centre being man’s own sweet self. When this tendency begins to break, when it is Nivritti or “going away from,” then begin morality and religion. Both Pravritti and Nivritti are of the nature of work: the former is evil work, and the latter is good work. 

This Nivritti is the fundamental basis of all morality and all religion, and the very perfection of it is entire self-abnegation, readiness to sacrifice mind and body and everything for another being. When a man has reached that state, he has attained to the perfection of Karma-Yoga. 

        This is the highest result of good works. Although a man has not studied a single system of philosophy, although he does not believe in any God, and never has believed, although he has not prayed even once in his whole life, if the simple power of good actions has brought him to that state where he is ready to give up his life and all else for others, he has arrived at the same point to which the religious man will come through his prayers and the philosopher through his knowledge; and so you may find that the philosopher, the worker, and the devotee, all meet at one point, that one point being self-abnegation. However much their systems of philosophy and religion may differ, all mankind stand in reverence and awe before the man who is ready to sacrifice himself for others. (I, 85 – 86)

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Power in Self - Restraint

It is the greatest manifestation of power — this tremendous restraint; self-restraint is a manifestation of greater power than all outgoing action. A carriage with four horses may rush down a hill unrestrained, or the coachman may curb the horses. Which is the greater manifestation of power, to let them go or to hold them? A cannonball flying through the air goes a long distance and falls. Another is cut short in its flight by striking against a wall, and the impact generates intense heat. All outgoing energy following a selfish motive is frittered away; it will not cause power to return to you; but if restrained, it will result in development of power. This self-control will tend to produce a mighty will, a character which makes a Christ or a Buddha. Foolish men do not know this secret (I, 33)

It is most unfortunate that we the children of Karma Bhumi Bharat do not know even the primary lessons of the science of karma yoga. How does our power get frittered away? It can be compared to water kept in a vessel full of holes. When we engage ourselves in unproductive work our energy is frittered away. To stop this wastage of energy our great rishis discovered the technique of controlling the sense organs. For this we have to fix a goal in life, make the intellect oriented towards the goal and keep the mind under control. Once the mind is under control then starts conservation of spiritual energy at subtle levels and mind becomes more and more purified leading to the awakening of the Satwic intellect. Spiritual progress is the net result. 

Swamiji wanted every one to be aware of one’s inner strength and through proper planning and execution of work awaken the Self within.  

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Unselfishness and Morality

There is to be found in every religion the manifestation of this struggle towards freedom. It is the groundwork of all morality, of unselfishness, which means getting rid of the idea that men are the same as their little body. When we see a man doing good work, helping others, it means that he cannot be confined within the limited circle of “me and mine”. There is no limit to this getting out of selfishness. All the great systems of ethics preach absolute unselfishness as the goal. Supposing this absolute unselfishness can be reached by a man, what becomes of him? He is no more the little Mr. So-and-so; he has acquired infinite expansion. The little personality which he had before is now lost to him for ever; he has become infinite, and the attainment of this infinite expansion is indeed the goal of all religions and of all moral and philosophical teachings. (I, 109)

All great teachers emphasise the role of unselfishness in morality. Absolute unselfishness expands us to be one with the universe. Karma Yoga is the science which leads to absolute freedom through completely unselfish work. It follows that unselfishness leads us to our goal and selfishness takes us  away from the goal. At one place Swamiji defines that “selfishness is immorality and unselfishness is morality.” 

Friday, August 21, 2020

Detachment a must to attain the goal of love

To attain this unattachment is almost a life-work, but as soon as we have reached this point, we have attained the goal of love and become free; the bondage of nature falls from us, and we see nature as she is; she forges no more chains for us; we stand entirely free and take not the results of work into consideration; who then cares for what the results may be?

Do you ask anything from your children in return for what you have given them? It is your duty to work for them, and there the matter ends. In whatever you do for a particular person, a city, or a state, assume the same attitude towards it as you have towards your children — expect nothing in return. If you can invariably take the position of a giver, in which everything given by you is a free offering to the world, without any thought of return, then will your work bring you no attachment. Attachment comes only where we expect a return. (I, 59)

What binds us to work is our desire for the fruits of our actions. Anasakti yoga or yoga of detachment trains the mind to rid of this desire for result. Once it is removed, we learn to work for work’s sake and execute our work like a master and not as a slave. “In the world we find two things that affect the conduct of men; might and mercy. The exercise of might is invariably the exercise of selfishness ……. Mercy is heaven itself; to be good, we have all to be merciful,  even justice and right should stand on mercy.” These words of Swamiji must ring  in our ears as we go on working for oneself and others.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Work with detachment

Therefore, be “unattached”; let things work; let brain centres work; work incessantly, but let not a ripple conquer the mind. Work as if you were a stranger in this land, a sojourner; work incessantly, but do not bind yourselves; bondage is terrible. This world is not our habitation, it is only one of the many stages through which we are passing. Remember that great saying of the Sânkhya, “The whole of nature is for the soul, not the soul for nature.” 

        The very reason of nature’s existence is for the education of the soul; it has no other meaning; it is there because the soul must have knowledge, and through knowledge free itself. If we remember this always, we shall never be attached to nature; we shall know that nature is a book in which we are to read, and that when we have gained the required knowledge, the book is of no more value to us. Instead of that, however, we are identifying ourselves with nature; we are thinking that the soul is for nature, that the spirit is for the flesh, and, as the common saying has it, we think that man “lives to eat” and not “eats to live”. We are continually making this mistake; we are regarding nature as ourselves and are becoming attached to it; and as soon as this attachment comes, there is the deep impression on the soul, which binds us down and makes us work not from freedom but like slaves. (I, 56 – 57)

‘We must learn to work like Masters and not as slaves’. One great tragedy which has befallen us, Indians is that we still live and work like somebody’s slaves. Slaves are always very selfish. Today, though we live and work for the society or for the nation, it is with self centeredness. Why cannot we work inspired by love. Love cannot come where there is selfishness. Slaves do not enjoy this flavour of love. Work done through slavery would lead to frustration and that is tormenting India as a nation even today.  

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Work without motive

Now, what is the meaning of working without motive? Nowadays many understand it in the sense that one is to work in such a way that neither pleasure nor pain touches his mind. If this be its real meaning, then the animals might be said to work without motive. Some animals devour their own offspring, and they do not feel any pangs at all in doing so. Robbers ruin other people by robbing them of their possessions; but if they feel quite callous to pleasure or pain, then they also would be working without motive. 

        If the meaning of it be such, then one who has a stony heart, the worst of criminals, might be considered to be working without motive. The walls have no feelings of pleasure or pain, neither has a stone, and it cannot be said that they are working without motive. In the above sense the doctrine is a potent instrument in the hands of the wicked. They would go on doing wicked deeds, and would pronounce themselves as working without a motive. If such be the significance of working without a motive, then a fearful doctrine has been put forth by the preaching of the Gita. Certainly this is not the meaning. Furthermore, if we look into the lives of those who were connected with the preaching of the Gita, we should find them living quite a different life. Arjuna killed Bhishma and Drona in battle, but withal, he sacrificed all his self-interest and desires and his lower self millions of times. (V, 247)

The concept of ‘work without motive’ is another of India’s unique contribution to the world thought. Only such work can help man manifest the divine potential within him. It is an easy way to purify the mind and evolve man towards his greater destiny. Three things have to be taken care of. Firstly the feeling of ownership of the action (that I am the doer) must be eradicated from the mind. Secondly, feelings of likes and dislikes should be kept at bay. Thirdly, attachment to fruit of action should also be removed totally. Once these three negative ingredients are removed, our actions, the work which we do, get transformed into worship. It releases the mind from vasanas or impressions which gather as impurities.

Is this practical? In our recent history Acharya Vinoba Bhave and the Father of our nation Mahatma Gandhi were two shining examples who lived and acted according to this wonderful principle of Nishkama Karma Yoga.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Work – Means as important as the goal

One of the greatest lessons I have learnt in my life is to pay as much attention to the means of work as to its end. He was a great man from whom I learnt it, and his own life was a practical demonstration of this great principle I have been always learning great lessons from that one principle, and it appears to me that all the secret of success is there; to pay as much attention to the means as to the end.

Our great defect in life is that we are so much drawn to the ideal, the goal is so much more enchanting, so much more alluring, so much bigger in our mental horizon, that we lose sight of the details altogether.

But whenever failure comes, if we analyse it critically, in ninety-nine per cent of cases we shall find that it was because we did not pay attention to the means. Proper attention to the finishing, strengthening, of the means is what we need. With the means all right, the end must come. We forget that it is the cause that produces the effect; the effect cannot come by itself; and unless the causes are exact, proper, and powerful, the effect will not be produced.

  Once the ideal is chosen and the means determined, we may almost let go the ideal, because we are sure it will be there, when the means are perfected. When the cause is there, there is no more difficulty about the effect, the effect is bound to come. If we take care of the cause, the effect will take care of itself. 

The realization of the ideal is the effect. The means are the cause: attention to the means, therefore, is the great secret of life. We also read this in the Gita and learn that we have to work, constantly work with all our power; to put our whole mind in the work, whatever it be, that we are doing. At the same time, we must not be attached. That is to say, we must not be drawn away from the work by anything else; still, we must be able to quit the work whenever we like.(II, 1 -2)

On 4th January 1900  Swamiji spoke on ‘Work and its Secret’, which must have been an eye opener for his western audience.  In this context Swamiji remembered that immaculate Karma Yogi Pavarhari Baba in whose company Swamiji learned many of the fine points of Karma Yoga. Baba was always a source of great inspiration for Swamiji. 

Monday, August 17, 2020

Do Work without asking for a Reward

           It is the most difficult thing in this world to work and not care for the result, to help a man and never think that he ought to be grateful, to do some good work and at the same time never look to see whether it brings you name or fame, or nothing at all. Even the most arrant coward becomes brave when the world praises him. A fool can do heroic deeds when the approbation of society is upon him, but for a man to constantly do good without caring for the approbation of his fellow men is indeed the highest sacrifice man can perform (I, 42 – 43)

To do work without desiring results is very high renunciation. One has to train the mind to say ‘no’ to all the applause, praise and all thanks giving processes. One example is to show your right cheek when slapped on the left. Swamiji recollects how the great Pavahari Baba reacted to a thief who stole somethings from his ashram. 

When Baba came to know of this he carried the things left behind, ran after the thief and placing them at his feet begged him to accept these things also and bless him. Needless to add, that the thief gave up his habit and became a devotee of Baba. Similar instances are found in the lives of many great men all over the world. Swamiji’s words throw more light on such instances.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Effect of Karma on Character

Karma in its effect on character is the most tremendous power that man has to deal with. Man is, as it were, a centre, and is attracting all the powers of the universe towards himself, and in this centre is fusing them all and again sending them off in a big current. Such a centre is the real man — the almighty, the omniscient — and he draws the whole universe towards him. Good and bad, misery and happiness, all are running towards him and clinging round him; and out of them he fashions the mighty stream of tendency called character and throws it outwards. As he has the power of drawing in anything, so has he the power of throwing it out. (I, 29-30)

Swamiji is revealing here the secret that every work which we do, creates its specific vibrations at the cosmic level, thereby reminding us to be alert and aware of each and every action we perform. Good and bad, happiness and misery are all created by ourselves. The work which we are destined to do has direct connections with the births which we will have to take. 

        Karma Yoga opens up the way to eradicate the dirt and pollution which we go on accumulating  in our minds through our work.  Sri Krishna reveals in Gita that through repeated  good actions, our good samskaras get accumulated through repeated births, and finally the Yogi acquires real knowledge and realises the Truth.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Work - an expression of the will power

All the actions that we see in the world, all the movements in human society, all the works that we have around us, are simply the display of thought, the manifestation of the will of man. Machines or instruments, cities, ships, or men-of-war, all these are simply the manifestation of the will of man; and this will is caused by character, and character is manufactured by Karma. As is Karma, so is the manifestation of the will. The men of mighty will the world has produced have all been tremendous workers — gigantic souls, with wills powerful enough to overturn worlds, wills they got by persistent work, through ages, and ages. Such a gigantic will as that of a Buddha or a Jesus could not be obtained in one life, for we know who their fathers were.

The gigantic will which Buddha and Jesus threw over the world, whence did it come? Whence came this accumulation of power? It must have been there through ages and ages, continually growing bigger and bigger, until it burst on society in a Buddha or a Jesus, even rolling down to the present day.   (I, 30 – 31)

It is the subtle will power accumulated through many lives that suddenly manifest in the life of great Mahatmas as their gigantic will power. One cannot have anything that one has not earned. This is a universal law. “We may go on accumulating things for our physical enjoyment, but only what we earn is really ours. A fool may buy all the books in the world, and they will be in his library; but he will be able to read only those that he deserves to; and this deserving is decided by Karma.” 

We who are born in this blessed Karma Bhumi are, due to our ignorance and negligence, transforming our land into an Akarma Bhumi cum Vikarma Bhumi. If we could understand the essentials of Karma Yoga we can  enrich  our selves. Swamiji has included very many small and big practical suggestions and guidelines  by which we can build up our character and transform ourselves.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Work unfolds Knowledge through Purification of the Mind


Work purifies the heart and so leads to Vidyâ (wisdom). The Buddhists said, doing good to men and to animals were the only works; the Brahmins said that worship and all ceremonials were equally “work” and purified the mind. Shankara declares that “all works, good and bad, are against knowledge”. Actions tending to ignorance are sins, not directly, but as causes, because they tend to increase Tamas and Rajas. With Sattva only, comes wisdom. Virtuous deeds take off the veil from knowledge, and knowledge alone can make us see God.

Knowledge can never be created, it can only be discovered; and every man who makes a great discovery is inspired. Only, when it is a spiritual truth he brings, we call him a prophet; and when it is on the physical plane, we call him a scientific man, and we attribute more importance to the former, although the source of all truth is one. (Vol VII - 39)

As a soul man is ever liberated. 
As man he is bound
. As a man he is a machine yearning for freedom. A wonderful body and mind are the assets of that machine. When the mind gets rooted in knowledge, all works lead to purification of the mind. Good works open the road to knowledge while evil deeds lead to increased tamas and rajas resulting in avidya. In everyone of us there is a treasure chest of knowledge. But when the mind is filled with ignorance or avidya, it is difficult to find the key to open the treasure chest.  Good advice from a Guru helps to find the key to open this treasure chest.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Karma Yoga as a system of ethics and religion

Karma-Yoga, therefore, is a system of ethics and religion intended to attain freedom through unselfishness, and by good works. The Karma-Yogi need not believe in any doctrine whatever. He may not believe even in God, may not ask what his soul is, nor think of any metaphysical speculation. He has got his own special aim of realising selflessness; and he has to work it out himself. Every moment of his life must be realisation, because he has to solve by mere work, without the help of doctrine or theory, the very same problem to which the Jnâni applies his reason and inspiration and the Bhakta his love. 

  What is this work? What is this doing good to the world? Can we do good to the world? In an absolute sense, no; in a relative sense, yes. No permanent or everlasting good can be done to the world; if it could be done, the world would not be this world. We may satisfy the hunger of a man for five minutes, but he will be hungry again. Every pleasure with which we supply a man may be seen to be momentary. No one can permanently cure this ever-recurring fever of pleasure and pain. Can any permanent happiness be given to the world? In the ocean we cannot raise a wave without causing a hollow somewhere else. 

        The sum total of the good things in the world has been the same throughout in its relation to man’s need and greed. It cannot be increased or decreased. Take the history of the human race as we know it today. Do we not find the same miseries and the same happiness, the same pleasures and pains, the same differences in position? Are not some rich, some poor, some high, some low, some healthy, some unhealthy? 

        All this was just the same with the Egyptians, the Greeks, and the Romans in ancient times as it is with the Americans today. So far as history is known, it has always been the same; yet at the same time we find that, running along with all these incurable differences of pleasure and pain, there has ever been the struggle to alleviate them  (I, 111 -112) 

Monday, August 10, 2020

We create our own world

Each man manufactures a world for himself. If a blind man begins to think of the world, it is either as soft or hard, or as cold or hot. We are a mass of happiness or misery; we have seen that hundreds of times in our lives. As a rule, the young are optimistic and the old pessimistic. The young have life before them; the old complain their day is gone; hundreds of desires, which they cannot fulfil struggle in their hearts. Both are foolish ……………………………………………

Yet we must do good; the desire to do good is the highest motive power we have, if we know all the time that it is a privilege to help others. (I, 75 – 76)

The way we look at the world depends on our mental state and accordingly it appears good or bad. Essentially it is neither good nor bad. Fire by nature is neither  good  nor bad. When it gives comfortable warmth we praise it but if it burns us we find fault with it. It depends on how we make use of the fire. The same is true of the world. As it is, the world is aptly suitable for the purpose for which it is created. Even without us the world will progress by itself. 

Keeping this awareness in mind, setting aside selfish motivations, with deep humility we should go on serving others, because that is a sure way to manifest the Divinity within us.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Motives for Work

Man works with various motives. There cannot be work without motive. Some people want to get fame, and they work for fame. Others want money, and they work for money. Others want to have power, and they work for power. Others want to get to heaven, and they work for the same. Others want to leave a name when they die

Work for work’s sake. There are some who are really the salt of the earth in every country and who work for work’s sake, who do not care for name, or fame, or even to go to heaven. They work just because good will come of it. There are others who do good to the poor and help mankind from still higher motives, because they believe in doing good and love good. The motive for name and fame seldom brings immediate results, as a rule; they come to us when we are old and have almost done with life. 

If a man works without any selfish motive in view, does he not gain anything? Yes, he gains the highest. Unselfishness is more paying, only people have not the patience to practice it. It is more paying from the point of view of health also. Love, truth, and unselfishness are not merely moral figures of speech, but they form our highest ideal, because in them lies such a manifestation of power. (I, 31 – 32)

Work for work’s sake, asking for no return. What is the advantage? When ideals become integrated into the character there is a wonderful manifestation of spiritual power. To test its validity we have only to watch our Mothers at work. What results do our Mothers expect as they burn themselves away as wicks in a lamp?. When the ideal of Karma Yoga gets fulfilled further, work turns into worship, an idea first muted by Swami Vivekananda drawing inspiration from Sri Ramakrishna. 

During his Bharat Parikrama, his countrymen’s laziness, inefficiency and indifference towards work greatly disturbed Swamiji. He found Karma Bhumi Bharat turning into an Akarma Bhumi. He must have yearned to reestablish the glory of Karma Bhumi Bharat and that must have inspired Swamiji  to  popularise Karma Yoga on a truly scientific basis. 

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Work is part of Nature’s Foundation

It is a part of nature’s foundation, and goes on always. Those that believe in God understand this better, because they know that God is not such an incapable being as will need our help. Although this universe will go on always, our goal is freedom, our goal is unselfishness; and according to Karma-Yoga, that goal is to be reached through work. All ideas of making the world perfectly happy may be good as motive powers for fanatics; but we must know that fanaticism brings forth as much evil as good. 

The Karma-Yogi asks why you require any motive to work other than the inborn love of freedom. Be beyond the common worldly motives. “To work you have the right, but not to the fruits thereof.” Man can train himself to know and to practice that, says the Karma-Yogi. When the idea of doing good becomes a part of his very being, then he will not seek for any motive outside. 

Let us do good because it is good to do good; he who does good work even in order to get to heaven binds himself down, says the Karma-Yogi. Any work that is done with any the least selfish motive, instead of making us free, forges one more chain for our feet. 

This world’s wheel within wheel is a terrible mechanism; if we put our hands in it, as soon as we are caught we are gone. We all think that when we have done a certain duty, we shall be at rest; but before we have done a part of that duty, another is already in waiting. 

We are all being dragged along by this mighty, complex world-machine. There are only two ways out of it; one is to give up all concerns with the machine, to let it go and stand aside, to give up our desires. That is very easy to say, but is almost impossible to do. I do not know whether in twenty millions of men one can do that. The other way is to plunge into the world and learn the secret of work, and that is the way of Karma-Yoga. Do not fly away from the wheels of the world-machine, but stand inside it and learn the secret of work. Through proper work done inside, it is also possible to come out. Through this machinery itself is the way out. (I, 115- 116)

Friday, August 7, 2020

What is Karma?

Like fire in a piece of flint, knowledge exists in the mind; suggestion is the friction which brings it out. So with all our feelings and action — our tears and our smiles, our joys and our griefs, our weeping and our laughter, our curses and our blessings, our praises and our blames — every one of these we may find, if we calmly study our own selves, to have been brought out from within ourselves by so many blows. The result is what we are. All these blows taken together are called Karma — work, action. 

        Every mental and physical blow that is given to the soul, by which, as it were, fire is struck from it, and by which its own power and knowledge are discovered, is Karma, this word being used in its widest sense. Thus we are all doing Karma all the time. I am talking to you: that is Karma. You are listening: that is Karma. We breathe: that is Karma. We walk: Karma. Everything we do, physical or mental, is Karma, and it leaves its marks on us. (I, 28 – 29)

Only in our Karmabhumi Bharat, has work, its origin, the full implications of the impressions that it leaves behind in our minds, the indepth meaning of fruit of action, etc., have been studied and researched upon so intensively and extensively. Out of these studies emerged the Science of Karma Yoga. 

        The ideals of Karma yoga which were so grandly propounded by Sri Krishna in Bhagavat Gita were  fully validated  by Swamiji and elaborated rationally and scientifically in his wonderful book on Karma Yoga. Every Indian, eager to grow and expand his/her personality must understand atleast the fundamentals of Karma Yoga. It’s a matter of great satisfaction that very many present daty management Gurus are learning these principles and effectively implementing  them in their work.  

Thursday, August 6, 2020


''Karma Yoga is a system of ethics and religion intended to attain freedom through unselfishness, and by good works. The Karma yogi need not believe in any doctrine whatever. He may not believe even in God, may not ask what his soul is, not think of any metaphysical speculation. He has got his own special aim of realising selflessness; and he has to work it out himself. Every moment of his life must be realisation because he has to solve by mere work, without the help of doctrine or theory, the very same problem to which the Jnani applies his reasons and inspiration and the Bhakta his love.''(1,111)

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

‘Tyageneke Amritatwamanasu’

Renunciation, that is the flag, the banner of India, floating over the world, the one undying thought which India sends again and again as a warning to dying races, as a warning to all tyranny, as a warning to wickedness in the world. Ay, Hindus, let not your hold of that banner go. Hold it aloft. Even if you are weak and cannot renounce, do not lower the ideal. Say, “I am weak and cannot renounce the world”, but do not try to be hypocrites, torturing texts, and making specious arguments, and trying to throw dust in the eyes of people who are ignorant. Do not do that, but own you are weak. For the idea is great, that of renunciation. What matters it if millions fail in the attempt, if ten soldiers or even two return victorious! Blessed be the millions dead! Their blood has bought the victory. 

This renunciation is the one ideal throughout the different Vedic sects except one, and that is the Vallabhâchârya sect in Bombay Presidency, and most of you are aware what comes where renunciation does not exist. We want orthodoxy — even the hideously orthodox, even those who smother themselves with ashes, even those who stand with their hands uplifted. 

Ay, we want them, unnatural though they be, for standing for that idea of giving up, and acting as a warning to the race against succumbing to the effeminate luxuries that are creeping into India, eating into our very vitals, and tending to make the whole race a race of hypocrites. We want to have a little of asceticism. Renunciation conquered India in days of yore, it has still to conquer India. Still it stands as the greatest and highest of Indian ideals — this renunciation. The land of Buddha, the land of Ramanuja, of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, the land of renunciation, the land where, from the days of yore, Karma Kanda was preached against, and even today there are hundreds who have given up everything, and become Jivanmuktas — ay, will that land give up its ideals? Certainly not. There may be people whose brains have become turned by the Western luxurious ideals; there may be thousands and hundreds of thousands who have drunk deep of enjoyment, this curse of the West — the senses — the curse of the world; yet for all that, there will be other thousands in this motherland of mine to whom religion will ever be a reality, and who will be ever ready to give up without counting the cost, if need be.

Another ideal very common in all our sects, I want to place before you; it is also a vast subject. This unique idea that religion is to be realised is in India alone.

— “This Atman is not to be reached by too much talking, nor is it to be reached by the power of intellect, nor by much study of the scriptures.” Nay, ours is the only scripture in the world that declares, not even by the study of the scriptures can the Atman be realised — not talks, not lecturing, none of that, but It is to be realised. It comes from the teacher to the disciple. When this insight comes to the disciple, everything is cleared up and realisation follows. (III, 344)
As different from the other countries of the world there is something unique in our motherland. This is the land of renunciation. Amongst crores of people destroying themselves through addiction to sensual pleasures and other material pursuits, still there exists a minority who are ready to give up everything and dedicate their lives for realisation of Truth. It is they who have kept the torch light of Truth or Satya burning bright in this land. May God bless them.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020


Worship Him who alone stands by us, whether we are doing good or are doing evil; who never leaves us even; as love never pulls down, as love knows no barter, no selfishness.

Rama was the soul of the old king; but he was a king, and he could not go back on his word.

“Wherever Rama goes, there go I”, says Lakshmana, the younger brother.

The wife of the elder brother to us Hindus is just like a mother.

At last he found Sita, pale and thin, like a bit of the moon that lies low at the foot of the horizon.

Sita was chastity itself; she would never touch the body of another man except that of her husband.

“Pure? She is chastity itself”, says Rama.

Drama and music are by themselves religion; any song, love song or any song, never mind; if one’s whole soul is in that song, he attains salvation, just by that; nothing else he has to do; if a man’s whole soul is in that, his soul gets salvation. They say it leads to the same goal.

Wife–the co-religionist. Hundreds of ceremonies the Hindu has to perform, and not one can be performed if he has not a wife. You see the priests tie them up together, and they go round temples and make very great pilgrimages tied together.

Rama gave up his body and joined Sita in the other world.

Sita–the pure, the pure, the all-suffering!

Sita is the name in India for everything that is good, pure, and holy; everything that in woman we call woman.

Sita–the patient, all-suffering, ever-faithful, ever-pure wife! Through all the suffering she had, there was not one harsh word against Rama.

Sita never returned injury.

“Be Sita!”

(CW. Vol.6- Page 102)

Monday, August 3, 2020

Renunciation - the First Step to Spirituality

In the presence of my Master I found out that man could be perfect, even in this body. Those lips never cursed anyone, never even criticised anyone. Those eyes were beyond the possibility of seeing evil, that mind had lost the power of thinking evil. He saw nothing but good. That tremendous purity, that tremendous renunciation is the one secret of spirituality. “Neither through wealth, nor through progeny, but through renunciation alone, is immortality to be reached”, say the Vedas. “Sell all that thou hast and give to the poor, and follow me”, says the Christ. 

        So all great saints and Prophets have expressed it, and have carried it out in their lives. How can great spirituality come without that renunciation? 
Renunciation is the background of all religious thought wherever it be, and you will always find that as this idea of renunciation lessens, the more will the senses creep into the field of religion, and spirituality will decrease in the same ratio. (IV, 183-184)

In all his talks about his great Master Sri Ramkrishna Swamiji emphasised about his great power of renunciation. Behind all spiritual achievements lies the power of tyaga. ‘Tyageneke amritatwamanasu’ is the central theme of Upanishads.

Mahatma Gandhi and Vinobha Bhave are two classical examples of the power of renunciation from modern Indian History. To come out of the octopus grip of materialism there is no better safety belt than renunciation. India has glorified herself throughout ages thanks to the glorious lives of renunciation led by her illustrious children.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Never limit the Unlimited

If the soul is infinite and exists everywhere, as it must do, if it is a spirit, what is meant by its taking up bodies and passing through body after body? The idea is that the soul neither comes nor goes, neither is born nor dies. How can the omnipresent be born? It is meaningless nonsense to say that the soul lives in a body. How can the unlimited live in a limited space? But as a man having a book in his hands reads one page and turns it over, goes to the next page, reads that, turns it over, and so on, yet it is the book that is being turned over, the pages that are revolving, and not he — he is where he is always — even so with regard to the soul. The whole of nature is that book which the soul is reading.

        Each life, as it were, is one page of that book; and that read, it is turned over, and so on and on, until the whole of the book is finished, and that soul becomes perfect, having got all the experiences of nature. Yet at the same time it never moved, nor came, nor went; it was only gathering experiences. But it appears to us that we are moving. The earth is moving, yet we think that the sun is moving instead of the earth, which we know to be a mistake, a delusion of the senses. So is also this, delusion that we are born and that we die, that we come or that we go. We neither come nor go, nor have we been born. For where is the soul to go? There is no place for it to go. Where is it not already?
(VI, 23 – 24)

Swamiji visualises nature as a great book with infinite number of pages and the reader as the human soul skipping through the pages. Life and death are just two pages, nothing else. Here one can recall Sri Krishna’s observation in Gita, bodies are like old clothes to be used and discarded.  (Bhagavat Gita II.) 

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Know Thyself to Know God

We cannot understand God in our scriptures without knowing the soul. There have been attempts in India, and outside of India too, to catch a glimpse of the beyond by studying external nature, and we all know what an awful failure has been the result. Instead of giving us a glimpse of the beyond, the more we study the material world, the more we tend to become materialized. The more we handle the material world, even the little spirituality which we possessed before vanishes. Therefore that is not the way to spirituality, to knowledge of the Highest; but it must come through the heart, the human soul.

The external workings do not teach us anything about the beyond, about the Infinite, it is only the internal that can do so. Through soul, therefore, the analysis of the human soul alone, can we understand God. There are differences of opinion as to the nature of the human soul among the various sects in India, but there are certain points of agreement. We all agree that souls are without beginning and without end, and immortal by their very nature; also that all powers, blessing, purity, omnipresence, omniscience are buried in each soul. That is a grand idea we ought to remember. 

In every man and in every animal, however weak or wicked, great or small, resides the same omnipresent, omniscient soul. The difference is not in the soul, but in the manifestation. Between me and the smallest animal, the difference is only in manifestation, but as a principle he is the same as I am, he is my brother, he has the same soul as I have. 

This is the greatest principle that India has preached. The talk of the brotherhood of man becomes in India the brotherhood of universal life, of animals, and of all life down to the little ants — all these are our bodies. Even as our scripture says, “Thus the sage, knowing that the same Lord inhabits all bodies, will worship every body as such.” That is why in India there have been such merciful ideas about the poor, about animals, about everybody, and everything  else. This is one of the common grounds about our ideas of the soul. (III, 125)

On 15th January 1897 when Swamiji landed at Colombo after his world famous tour of the West, the people of Jafna received him with great respect and elation. He delivered a most eloquent speech on Vedantism, touching all the important aspects of Vedanta, giving the people of Jafna a  taste of the discourses he was delivering abroad. In this talk Swamiji introduced Atman and impressed upon the people the necessity of knowing Atman as a prelude to all religious exercises.

Man - making Education

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