3 Types of Karma Yoga as explained in the Bhagavat Gita | How are Karma Yoga and Bhakti Yoga related?

Types of Karma Yoga-Part-1

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There are these fundamental categories in which the science of Karma Yoga has found division in Srimad Bhagavad Gita, the Song of the Lord Govinda. These are:

(1) Karma Yoga with special emphasis on Action.

(2) Karma Yoga blended with Devotion.

(3) Karma Yoga, dominated by Devotion.

Karma Yoga with special emphasis on Action

It is the preliminary stage of evolution, for the new initiated practitioner of Karma Yoga. In this case, the practitioner performs duties and activities as enjoined in the scriptures. The practitioner does not involve himself in those activities where lies are excessively spoken, the practitioner also does not undertake tasks against the voice of conscience. These tasks shall fall under the category of what is suitable according to one’s outlook and temperament. It is not expected that a person with business mindset takes up activities like teaching the scriptures etc, where it is clear that his outlook is unsuitable to carry out the task. In this case the business man can very well carry out business sans cheating tendencies, sans keeping profit as his only goal and so on, so that the activities are carried out to the best of interests of oneself and of society. In this stage the practitioner is expected to renounce the desire for fruit or returns. He should attempt to renounce attachment to all worldly ambitions with respect to his actions and attainment of worldly objects as price for his work. In His teaching, our Lord Sri Krishna exhorts at certain places only the renunciation of the fruit of Karma (Chapter 5, Verse 12; Chapter 12; verse 11; Chapter 18 Verse 11). At other places He lays emphasis on renunciation of attachment alone (Chapter 3, Verse 19; Chapter 6 Verse 4); while at some other places He has demanded both the renunciation of fruit, as well as of attachment (Chapter 2 verses 47, 48; Chapter 18 verses 6, 9) However the import of the above statements is that if renunciation of the fruit is intended, the purpose is to renounce attachment too. When a person renounces attachment it proceeds that he will have no interests in the fruit. It was a clever way in which Lord Sri Krishna encouraged renunciation of both fruits of work and attachment to the work in one way or the other. It follows that both, renunciation of fruits and attachment to work are insisted upon. A person graduates to the second stage of Karma Yoga only when the mind relieves its grip on both fruit of work and attachment to work.


Karma Yoga blended with Devotion

Here, the striver is commanded by the Lord to perform work for the pleasure of the Lord. Here too the striver has to embrace only that work which is in tune with his outlook and temperament. The striver is to see the Lord in all his activities, whatever he takes up (Chapter 18, Verse 46). This is the stage when the man of action is able to get a glimpse of the higher world, the higher law. This is also a stage when material laws are slowly submerged into the background and the great workings of the Lord come to the fore front. This is the stage in which the Karma Yogi, is able to appreciate the hand of God emerging in all the activities that he takes up. He is able to then appreciate how work simply happens and flows. As the Karma Yogi progresses in his practice he shall be able to observe that it is not he, who is executing the tasks and “getting” results, but that everything is proceeding from a higher dimension and he is simply a spectator to the gamut of happenings and work that are getting executed.