25) Self Knowledge (Atmajnan) – On Karma (Part 7) Karma Yoga

TALK 25 by Prabhuji (12 APR 2016)


Let us contemplate on Karma yoga. What is yoga? Yoga means union of individual consciousness with universal consciousness. We are all Jivas. A Jiva is an amsha (part) of the God or Devine and we feel a separation from the lord. Yoga is a process by which we can unite with the god. Through action when we unite with God, it is called Karma yoga. Earlier, I told the effects of Karma- doing good to others; or bad to others; ‘Punya’, ‘Paapa’, ‘Sukarma’ and ‘Duskarma’. Now let us elaborate on ‘Sukarma’, or about what you can do for your upliftment.

We need to understand the different types of Karma. First is ‘Kamya Karma’ or selfish actions. These selfish actions or ‘Kamya Karma’ is what leads to ‘Paapa’ or ‘Punya’. This is what leads to repeated births and experience of the karmic impact. ‘Kamya Karma’ means any action done where you have a selfish interest. ‘This I want for myself’; ‘this I want for my family’. Whatever you do for selfish interests has an impact on your Karma Phala. It will bring you some result for a short term or long term depending on what you have done. Of course, for our survival, for our daily living we need to work. It is selfishness in nature- for my survival and for my family. Then you get Phala also, you get a salary; but that is not the point. You are doing an action to get a result. The point is the actions in which you do something with a selfish interest. So this brings you Karma Phala. Because you’re doing with a selfish interest, and because you are doing as an individual, there is Karma Phala. Why you do for selfish interest? It is because somewhere deep you feel limited. This selfish interest will bring a limited Karma Phala and also will do a limited harm to others, because your consciousness is at a lower level.
Anything we do in our life is according to our level of consciousness. For example, if you are going on a road, and you say, ‘How dirty this road is!’ Will anything happen? Tomorrow, if the Prime Minister goes on the same road and looks at the dirt, before he speaks, the road will be clean and for another one year the road will be kept clean. There is a difference in power of your words and power of the word of the Prime Minister. Similarly, there is difference in the power of words of a person who is in a higher consciousness versus the power of the words of a person who is in a lower consciousness. The person of a higher consciousness will have words of higher impact. Similarly, a person who is doing acts of selfish interest has a lower consciousness. That’s why he craves for something. His actions are also limited in nature. This is called ‘Kamya Karma’. And Kamya Karma always leads to Karma Phala which leads to repeated births.


If a person wants to come out of Kamya Karma and Karmic impressions, then he starts doing Nishkama Karma. Nishkama Karma is what we call as Sukarma- the karma which will uplift you, free you.
So there are three components of Karma.
The intention or thought
The action
The result

Nishkama Karma is working on these aspects of Karma. Firstly, the intention. Intention is- ‘I am working for a larger cause which will help others,’ intention can be- ‘I am working for purifying myself; for my own purification, so that I can get liberation, enlightenment.’ Or the intention can be serving people. So, both are intentions. There will be thoughts related to that, there is an action and there is a result. Result can be good or bad, as expected or not as expected. When results are as expected don’t get elated, when results are not as per expectation, don’t get depressed, because your intention is noble. You are working towards a higher cause. So, both good result and bad result, expected result and unexpected result should be accepted with equanimity. When you accept with equanimity, there will be no more impressions created in your consciousness. Thus, doing Nishkama Karma is creating a purifying intention in you of serving the society, and learning how to live without getting affected by the results. In other words, Nishkama Karma is action as service to the lord, or Bhagavan, as Yajna or offering.

There are different types of Yajna, also called Pancha yajnas.

Deva Yajna – Deva yajna are the Prayers, Puja and offerings to the Devine. Deva yajna can also include some activities which you do to maintain environmental balance because the Devine forces are helping to maintain harmony in the universe. So, any service done to maintain harmony and environmental balance is a part of Deva yajna.

Pitru Yajna – Pitru yajna means taking care of elders, respecting elders, helping the elders and also taking wisdom from the elders and passing it on to the next generations. Earlier, three generations used to live together-grandparents, parents and children. There was a flow of wisdom. So now, any mechanism of teaching the spiritual wisdom of the elders to next generations is a part of Pitru yajna.

Manushya Yajna – Manushya yajna is any service you do to human beings. ‘Manava seveye, madhavana seva’ seeing devine in human beings; ‘Nara Narayana’, seeing Narayana in human beings while doing service; is called Manushya yajna.

Bhuta Yajna – Bhuta yajna is seeing Devine in living beings; any act of compassion; any act that will reduce the suffering of living beings; is Bhuta yajna.

Rishi Yajna – Rishi yajna is learning the wisdom of rishis, internalizing it, realizing it and passing it on to others through teaching. So, right now what we are doing is Rishi yajna. We are learning wisdom, that is the wisdom of self realization, the wisdom of Atma Jnana; and we are trying to pass it on to others. This is called Rishi yajna.

All these five yajnas qualify for Nishkama Karma. What is the effect of Nishkama Karma? Your chitta or inner consciousness gets purified and your mind becomes deeply silent; and a deeply silent mind is ready for higher wisdom or Enlightenment and it purifies you. Then, if there is the wisdom in you, because of the Nishkama Karma, you become a recipient of the higher wisdom; and then you realize a state called Naishkarmya. Naishkarmya is a state in which you realize that you are not the doer and that the divine acts are happening through the body mind complex.
Some of the examples of Nishkama Karma are – when Mahatma Gandhi inititated the people during the freedom struggle, it was not for himself, but for the country, the entire population. This qualifies for Nishkama Karma. When somebody plants trees in a street, it’s not for him, but for the environment. Somebody has hurt a dog by throwing a stone at it, and you take care of it, it qualifies for Nishkama Karma. It is not on any selfish interest. If you take the teaching of the Rishis and pass it on to others, it qualifies for Nishkama Karma. If you participate in some yajna, or some meditation programs, it will qualify for Nishkama Karma.


Whereas Naishkarmya is when you realize you are not the doer. You are not the doer, but through your body mind complex lot of divine acts happen. This is called Naishkarmya. Naishkarmya can happen only after enlightenment. After you are enlightened, there is no individual. The individual has merged with the universe. There is only the body-mind complex which remains and it becomes a vehicle. Through the body mind complex the universal consciousness operates. The acts of the universal consciousness through the body mind complex has a larger impact on the environment and the society. For example, people like Shri Shankaracharya, Vivekananda and Buddha live for a couple of years and their acts of teaching have an impact on the society for long time to come. They inspire people, they motivate people. These are all Devine acts. This is called Naishkarmya. It is not an act by an individual.

“Kamya Karma to Nishkama Karma to Naishkarmya….”  “Selfish to unselfish to Selfless acts….”
So, this is the way of progression in Karma yoga.

– Transcription by Atmajyothi Satyavathi


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