In Karma Yoga dominated by Devotion; there are two categories namely
(1) Offering all actions to God
(2) Actions for the sake of God
When the practitioner matures to a stage when he is able to see the hand of God in every action that he undertakes, he enters into a steady state of “surrender”. In this state the striver completely renounces the feeling of mine-ness, attachment and the desire for fruit in respect of all actions. He believes that everything belongs to God. This is his firm conviction, in this state. He also comes to accept that he too belongs to God. He also comes to the point that whatever actions he performs are also God’s and that it is God alone who is getting everything performed by him, just as a showman gets things performed by his puppet. With this conviction and faith, he performs duties prescribed in the Vedic scriptures according to the Lord’s behest and for His pleasure alone (Chapter 3, Verse 30; Chapter 12, Verse 6; Chapter 18 Verses 57, 66). Apart from this, an act done with other motives, in the first instance, may at a later stage be offered to God; it may be offered in the middle even during the process of its performance; it may be offered as soon as it is completed; or its fruit alone may be surrendered. These are the various ways in which Work and its results are offered to God, through one’s mind, through genuine intention in the heart, even though they represent only its initial stage. When these practices are continuously followed through many acts of surrender, the stage of complete surrender shall slowly emerge and will be ultimately reached.
In “Actions for the sake of God”, the following are the considerations. Duties enjoined by the scriptures, which are performed at the behest of the Lord, with God-realization as one’s objective, or of attainment of Divine love, or solely for the pleasure of the Lord, even so offering worship to the Lord’s image or idol, and also other acts of worship such as the practice of adoration, meditation, singing the glories of the Lord as a form of spiritual practice, which are solely performed for the sake of the Lord alone, which are directly connected to the Lord, such actions are included in “actions for the sake of God (Chapter 11 Verse 55; Chapter 12 verse 10).
The Path of Action is an independent means to God-realization and also serves as an auxiliary means to the Path of Knowledge. If the practitioner so desires, he can, without the help of the discipline of Knowledge, attain the highest perfection directly through the practice of Karma Yoga. If the practitioner so desires, he may only involve himself through direct acts of service to the Lord through Worship, singing His praises or through reading scriptures for the pleasure of the Lord.
Types of Renunciation in the Path of Knowledge and Action
(1) Renunciation of Prohibited Acts
In all of the above cases, however, the practitioner should abstain in thought, word and deed, from vile deeds such as thieving, adultery, lying, duplicity, coercion, violence, consuming forbidden food items etc.
(2) Renunciation of Actions Motivated By Desire
The practitioner needs to ensure that he does not perform any of the acts delineated in the Path of Yoga or in the Path of Action with a selfish motive, sacrifices, charity, penance, worship and other actions motivated by desire, which are generally performed with a view to obtaining agreeable object, such as wife, progeny and wealth etc, or with the object of securing freedom from some ailment or ridding oneself of other calamities. This is the second stage of renunciation.
(3) Renunciation of the practice of taking service from others with a selfish motive
Asking for money or bodily service from another for one’s own gratification and accepting articles or bodily service offered without one’s asking for the same and seeking to attain one’s selfish end through anyone by any means whatsoever, all this is included in taking service from another with a selfish motive. Renunciation of all these is the fourth stage of renunciation. If someone offers a service and if our non-acceptance of the service were to hurt the sentiments of the person offering the service, one may accept a token of that service, in a limited way, for the pleasure of those offering it. This is certainly admissible.