Karma Yoga in Bhagavad Gita

Jnana, Karma and Bhakti Yoga

The message of the Gita is for every soul, every living entity. When one takes up Gita, there are three distinct paths described namely Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga and Bhakti Yoga.

How Does one Follow the different Paths of Yoga?

Although these appear to be 3 distinctive paths, it cannot be denied that all the three paths overlap. There are shades of different aspects of Yoga which form cusps among the three primary forms of Yoga. Moreover, it is simply not possible to follow a particular form of Yoga, abiding to the classical definitions.

We must understand that Yoga in this context, is a combination of all, Karma, Jnana and Bhakti. If we follow just one path, neglecting the others, then we develop an incomplete understanding. To realize one path completely, we need to embrace all three forms of Yoga. Once, we do that, we realize all.

One tends to follow shades of the other forms of Yoga, although one may be primarily focusing on a primary yogic practice.

When Karma is felt the Most

At the preliminary stages of dealing with life, most of life is automatically programmed. Life is run by our pent up tendencies, our instincts, habits and our undeniable hypocrisy. That means, there is no order in our life. Life goes on in circles, in the same complaining mode.

Everything is managed by Karma, a series of automatic actions and results. It is run by Nature. Here it is all “Karma” without the Yoga. Unless there are life situations that go out of control, one is happy to go about life haphazardly, in a cyclic manner. So, at times there arise situations where challenges are so severe that they act as a wake-up call for us.

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How Karma becomes Karma Yoga?

This call begs our attention. It calls for conscious effort, action, Karma. Therefore, when we drop our foul tendencies and adopt the right mindset to execute an action it is then called Karma Yoga. Karma with an additional word, Yoga. Karma Yoga simply means that we drop our expectations, which build due to unconscious rumination.

Once, we view things from the light of awareness, the action (Karma) we perform becomes pure. It can then become a means to attain Moksha.

Simply put, When one takes up some form of Yoga (austerity, which translates as conscious efforts) it becomes Karma Yoga.

When man starts doing activities consciously, when there is some sort of understanding that there is a higher cause for everything that happens, Yoga is introduced into one’s life. This is when man starts to develop a deep sense of interest in the laws of Karma. He is more interested in looking at the cause and effect chain, as one progresses with life.

When one undertakes a deeper study of Karma, one also realizes that the chain of Karma comes into fruition, irrespective of one’s conscious effort to deal with things.

He realizes that it is life that gets someone into a situation. Life makes the person undergo experiences which may either be very pleasant or sometimes be utterly dejecting. This is when man looks at the possibilities of working his way through Karma, through a scientific approach, whereby one is able to allay the Karmic “accidents”.

This is when the Bhagavad Gita comes to help. All the Vedic Scriptures allude to this fact that Karma can be consciously burnt and can also be transmuted into something fruitful and pleasant.

Results of Karma on the Ego

Although Karma can never be totally avoided, its quality and effect can be altered to such an extent that Karma, may never seem like a punishment. The Book of Secrets of Karma, is undeniably the Srimad Bhagavad Gita.

When Karma is directed to a place that is “not” the ego, the results of Karma do not hurt.” exhorts the Gita. All of us get injured by Karma, because we get connected to Karma through the inner hard shell of the ego. When Karma attacks, it attacks our False Self. Spirituality calls that the ‘Ego’

The ego is a conglomeration of thoughts, emotions and concocted value systems that we unconsciously build in this lifetime as well as those built in previous lifetimes. Karma and its results when directed towards this hard shell of the ego, causes pain. Even pleasure is hyped up by the ego.

Hence, an ordinary situation for some, may appear pleasurable to other people. This is because the false self is hard and manipulates the situation to cause amplified effects of pain or pleasure.

The Gita advises us to accept Karma but direct it towards another universal entity which is our real Self. Some call this, the real Self, as our Higher Self. Others call it the Supreme Being or the Lord. When one learns to disassociate with the Karmic fruits or take any credit for the Karma, one successfully diverts the painful missile of the Karmic law.

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