(Last Updated On: November 14, 2019)

There are many forms of yoga which has its significance and deep-rooted meaning. Some yoga helps to maintain peace and harmony of the mind and body while some help to increase the flexibility of the body.

Karma yoga is quite different than other forms of yoga as it helps in improving your Kriya Shakti. It does not consist of strenuous poses or mental focus; it solely concentrates on the principle “Doing your responsibility with putting your best effort in the absence of ego, attachment, and expectation of reward.”

Karma Yoga
Karma Yoga

Literal Meaning

Karma yoga originated from Bhagwat Gita and is one of the paths of spiritual liberation in Hinduism. According to Bhagwat Gita Shri Krishna also said: “Do your duty without the expectation of the fruit.”

Now, let’s derive the meaning of this yoga by breaking down the words- “KARMA” “YOGA”- Karma means action or work that you do, and yoga means the suppression or modification of mind and taking full action of yourself and your deeds.

Therefore, karma yoga from its word means doing your task as a part of yogic practice without thinking about self or ego.

Spiritual Aspect of Karma Yoga

We have certain privileges in this life due to karma (or action) of the previous life. It could be good karma or a bad one, but as our karma was “result centered” in our previous life- our action was, with no doubts, filled with many egos.

Let’s put it in simple terms, we wear elite clothes in order to get appreciation from others, students in school study with all their might in order to built a good and strong future for themselves; moreover, even in simple task like maintaining our garden, most of us do it in order to get praises from our neighbor or even to make them envious in some ways.

All the deeds that we do in one or the other way are making us more egoistic and more self-centered, which in turn is repeating the same cycle of good karma and bad karma.

Moreover, karma yoga’s motive is completely different. This yoga is all about breaking the chain between all the good or bad karma and stopping the whole cycle, to attain the ultimate liberation.

Offering all our actions to the divine without worrying about the consequence not only decreases our ego but also makes us more focused to do the work itself than focusing on the result.

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Just like offering flowers to the statues of God, we can offer our action to him, only by realizing the fact that all creatures have a lord in their heart and as Bhagwat Gita says” seeing ME within all things and ALL within ME” we can perform karma yoga in an appropriate way. This belief gives us the idea of serving all without any biases or ego and in turn serving the divine itself.

4 Aspects of Karma Yoga

This yogic practice stands strong on 4 pillars that are means of doing this yoga to its fullest extent. These are:-

1. Responsibility

‘It’s easy to do the task that we like and those we prefer but what about the duties that we are not fond of doing, do we even want to show our participation in such a task? Well, the answer is undoubtedly going to be a big “No” in 90% of cases.

However, karma yoga says otherwise; it requires your full presence and your entire effort while doing a task without any biases. Giving your 100% in any job you do with your total concentration and your full enthusiasm is the basis for Karma yoga.

2. Ego

Every human has his or her dislikes and likes, self- importance, and self- prestige; additionally, we all have the feeling of “me” and “them.” That’s the reason why we think twice before doing any action because we are too concerned if our work will harm our image or our prestige. This very feeling and thought of mind prevent us from doing many steps that we know within ourselves that we are capable of doing.

Nevertheless, people do think that ego is better for self-progress, which might be right to some extent, but while visualizing the broader picture, the ego creates nothing but a concrete wall between what we are and what we think we are.

Therefore, in karma yoga, you have to give up your ego! You have to give up that mentality of , “Yourself and Your prestige” and do your task with full enthusiasm and without thinking of yourself and the idea of who you are in general.

3. Attachment

It’s a universal nature of human behavior to like someone and to hate the other; moreover, this favoritism is not accepted in karma yoga. Seeing the situation and person as it is –is one of the basics of karma yoga.

Similarly, performing your task without any attachment helps you to be neutral and focus on your activity rather than the people around you.

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4. The Expectation of Reward

This nature of human beings is one of the most common things that we are sure to find in every part of the globe. We have this tendency to seek a reward in everything we do.

Moreover, from a very young age our parents pamper us with gifts when we do our work correctly, and this sets an ideology in our mind that doing a good job always comes with a reward, but, at the end of the day if we do not get any compensation or praise for our work, we are more likely to be unhappy and disappointed with ourselves.

Therefore, karma yoga has this firm principle which clearly states that we need to do a particular work but with no expectation of any reward.

Benefits of Karma Yoga

One of the most important benefits of Karma Yoga is, it helps in Chitta Suddhi (purification of mind). This yogic practice helps you to blossom into a person with zero egos and a full willingness to help others and to focus on your task without any ego and attachments.

You are sure to get a peculiar joy in helping others. You will get the urge to help others willingly and without any biases.

External environment and situations will have less effect on you. Meaning, you will pay less heed to other’s opinions and thought rather have a full focus in doing your task.

You will have the ability to improve your Kriya Shakti (energy of action) and gain knowledge of doing the right task at the right time. This will help you to focus all your energy in one form, so you can perform your action or your work in a wonderful way.

In Conclusion

Karma Yoga has been practiced since very ancient times in different religions with different names. Additionally, even the Geeta quotes “you will free yourself from both the good and the evil effects of your actions if you do your action for the divine and with no intention of getting any form of results.

Therefore, this is an essential form of yoga for any yogi who is seeking to find enlightenment and is a simple yoga that any person can start while doing his or her work in the daily aspect of life.

References: Hindu Janajagruti Samiti | Sivananda Online | Vedanta Society