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Karma as a Yoga

Karma as a Yoga


- Inspired by the teachings of Swami Vivekananda

The word Karma in its most basic sense means Action. It would be most misunderstood if we talk of Karma as Good Karma and Bad Karma. Indeed, there are 'Good deeds' and 'Bad deeds', but these are defined and bounded by human-made rules, be it state laws, society beliefs, morality and even religious sentiments. But Karma is different from deeds. The principal distinction is that there is no 'Good' and 'Bad' Karma. Instead, there is 'Karma' and 'Akarma'. The difference between the both is the one that can help us understand how we can reach the pinnacle in our actions.

Any action to turn into Karma, it should have two constituents. The first being it is unselfish and the other, it should be done with an objective to achieve knowledge. Akarma, on the other hand, is an action that is done for pleasure and happiness. Once we understand this difference, it is easier for us to understand why Karma gives enlightenment and liberation, while Akarma leads us to bondage, in effect giving the doer nothing that can elevate him or her. A simple act done with two different motives can make it a Karma or an Akarma. Let's further elaborate it by taking a simple example of the famous Bollywood movie '3 idiots'. While the chief protagonist of the movie attends Engineering classes with the motive of gaining knowledge, his friends do the same act for a motive of making it a profession (thereby giving them material happiness and pleasure). This beautifully culminates in the climax as to how the former becomes the most successful of all. This teaching comes with the necessary corollary that for taking up this path, we need clarity of mind and patience. We must teach our mind to imbibe these two crucial points, in other words, need to Master our Mind. Once we do that, it is like riding a horse that you can control, else we would be like riding an uncontrolled horse, something that can definitely not take us where we want.

I am often asked questions on life's good and bad times and the role Karma has to play in this. While we have already spoken about the difference between Karma and Deeds, these good and bad times are not the effects of Karma and Akarma, and it should be least mistaken that Karma can help us overcome life's difficulties. By thinking so, we defeat the very definition of Karma, which is it should be done with an altruistic motive. Life's ups and downs are its constituents; the very law holds good that every being in the Universe will face them. The question that might crop up now is 'Why then one should do Karma'? The answer is that we, as humans, are the only species in this Universe which can do Karma, thereby attaining liberation. So, Karma is not an option; it is a must do now, in future or the next birth or the birth after that, that's how the law of Cosmos or Nature works. It does not matter whether one agrees or disagrees, as one day, now, in future, in the next birth or in the birth after that and so on, you are going to realise it and then achieve the peak of success.