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Karma Yoga

Karma is literally translated as "Action" which everyone in this world performs, whether consciously or unconsciously. When Yoga is added to the word Karma, then it means that any action that is performed with awareness becomes Karma Yoga.

The word "Karma" is derived from the sanskrit root word "kr" which means "to do". "The yoga of selfless action". Thus it is the yoga of action and equipped with this one can overcome the bondage of Karma.

Karma yoga is the first yoga which has been described in the Upanishads as necessary in order to understand the state of perfection in yoga.


nacasannyasana deva siddhimsamadhigacchati. (Gita: 3.4)

A person does not gain that state of actionlessness by the non-performance of activities. Nor does the person attain success (liberation) out of mere renunciation.

na hi kascitksanamapijatutisthatyakarmakrt,
karyatehyavasah karma sarvahprakrtijairgunaih. (Gita: 3.5)

Indeed no one ever exists for even a second without performing action because everyone being helpless is made to perform action by the gunas(sattva, rajas, tamas) born of prakrti.

indriyarthanvimudhatmamithyacarahsaucyate. (Gita: 3.6)

"The deluded man is called the hypocrite who sits controlling the organs of action, but dwelling in his mind on the object of the senses".

yastvindriyanimanasaniyamyarabhate'rjuna ,
karmendriyaihkarmayogamasaktahsavisisyate. (Gita: 3.7)

"Whereas, oh! Arjuna, the one who, restrain the senses by mind, is unattached and takes to the yoga of action with the organs of action, is far superior."

Qualities of the mind
Antah-karana, the mind is, born of Prakrti and has the same qualities- Sattva, rajas, and tamas. Each of these qualities produces certain types of desire, the expressions of which can be classified according to each of these qualities.

"That action which is undertaken from delusion, without heed to the consequence, loss, injury is declared to be Tamsika".

"That action which is done by one craving for desires, or again with egoism or with much effort, is declared to be Rajasika".

"An action which is ordained, which is free from attachment, which is done without hatred, ego and desire is said to be Sattvika".

  1. NISTRAIGUNYA: Non-attachment with worldly pleasure.
  2. NIRDVANDA: Keeping the mind free from dualities.
  3. NITYASATVASTHA: Being clean and pure.
  4. NIRYOGAKSEMA: Being unconcerned about desires.
  5. ATMAVAN: Being self-controlled.
Types of karmas:
  • Sancita Karma: Earlier collected-accrued karma. The fruits of these works are yet to be experienced.
  • Prarabdha Karma: It is the work already done, of which the results have started to come.
  • Agami Karma: These are the results of present actions.
Whole process of karma yoga, we are trying to cover the negative into positive. Once the whole thing has become positive, then the gunas takes over. Ultimately it is the guna, or the inherent nature which takes us beyond the dualities of the positive to negative into the state of transcendence.

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