Principle of Correct action or Karma Yoga
The principle of correct action is made famous by the description of Karma Yoga in Chapter 2, Verse 47:
Karmanye Vaadhika-raste, Maa Phaleshu Kadachana
Maa karma-phala-hetur-bhoorma, MaTe sangostwakarmini.
कर्मण्ये वाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन, मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते संगोस्त्वकर्मणि ।
Several authors have given their interpretations of this passage of the Gita in their own unique way.
S. Radhakrishnan (the
first second President of India)
To action alone hast thou a right and never at all to its fruits; let not the fruits of action be thy motive; neither let there be in thee any attachment to inaction.
This famous verse contains the essential principle of disinterestedness. If we think of fame or income or any other consideration when we do our work. we will be deflected from disinterestedness. Nothing matters except the good will, the willing fulfillment of the purpose of God. Success or failure does not depend on the individual alone, but on other factors as well!
“I have fought that is much, victory is in the hands of fate” – Giordano Bruno
In his commentary on the Gita titled “God Talks with Arjuna”, Yogananda explains:
Thy human right is for activity only, never for the resultant fruit of actions. Do not consider thyself the creator of the fruits of thy activities; neither allow thyself attachment to inactivity.
“The devotee is a divine lark, immersed in the spirit of his song; he has no thought about personal gain or impressing others with his singing.”
What a beautiful way to put across the thought of “doing work for the sake of doing work, not for material rewards, but to please the Divine”. Yogananda encourages us to “recognize God’s image and power within us as the initiator and doer of all actions.” However, while surrendering to God the fruits of action, the devotee has to take care not to be steered towards apathy and inaction.
Thus, the Gita “expresses the art of wise action by which true happiness and freedom can be attained.”
(Amazon affiliate link for this text God Talks with Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita
In his excellent commentary titled “The Holy Geeta”, (Amazon link The Holy Geeta
) Swami Chinmayananda explains:
Single-pointed, divine-dedicated Karma without desire for the fruits shall bring about inner purification, which is a pre-condition for spiritual awakening. On the surface, it seems almost impossible to act in life without any expectation of results. However, in practice, one discovers after a lot of personal experience that this alone is the very secret of all real achievement.
Krishna is indeed advising Arjuna on the secret art of living an inspired life. To worry over and get anxious for the rewards of actions is to escape from the present moment and live in a future moment that is not yet born! Hence, the doer needs to conserve his mental energy so that it does not dissipate with anxiety created be the future expectation of the fruits of his action. Live in the present moment.
A real Karma Yogi is one who understands that
- his concern is with action alone
- he has no concern with results
- he should not entertain the motive of gaining a fixed (specific) fruit for a given action, and
- these ideas do not mean that he should sit back and seek inaction
The work itself is your reward ; get drunk with the joy and satisfaction of a noble work done.
Did this article help you understand the way of correct action? Please share with fellow readers in the comments. Thanks!