Karma Yoga

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Karma Yoga is the theme of Bhagavada Gita and this holy book of Hindus holds highest authority akin to Upnishad (Veda, revealed word) and has been commented upon by all teachers who propagated their own philosophies. The context is commencement of an epic battle where two opposing forces (good and evil) of cousins had assembled for a war.

The song Celestial (Gita) was imparted to Arjuna one among the five sons wanting to reclaim the kingdom usurped by cousins who were 100 (outnumbered) and led by Duryodhana spoiling for battle. Arjuna was a great and skillful warrior and had made a determination
to fight after all the peaceful means of resolution had failed.

Standing in the midst of the two opposing armies Aruna was overcome by grief seeing his relatives and teachers lined up to fight against him and refused to fight saying that he felt renunciation was a nobler course of action as compared to war which would destroy all.

Scene of battle provides us with an imagery of Two Opposing forces and standing between them the hero could not fight (Do) though all his life he had trained as an archer and was foremost amongst them. He was confused as to what his duty was and what is meant by right action or was not renunciation of all actions a nobler path.

Lord Krishna through the master stroke of a genus points out to Arjuna flaws in his arguments and begins to expound a philosophy of Dharma or righteous conduct which is a skillful means to unfetter from the clutches of ignorance and attain highest Wisdom for a man of action who continues to be a useful part of society and continues to perform duties as dictated by his ‘Type’.

Lord Krishna says that inaction is also a kind of action and no matter what actions are indispensable even for the bare maintenance of the body. The only way to find a release is to perform them in such a way that one does not succumb to the dualities of pleasure and pain, gain or loss and honour or dishonour. This is conscious labour as the natural tendency is to be swayed by the two opposing forces (dualities). There is a whole chapter dedicated to sacrifice and he says that only actions done as a sacrifice do not bind.

To summarise from the fourth way point of view Gita brings out that Man cannot Do. Conscious Labour and intentional suffering (sacrifice) are the only way for the path of a householder.