In the last article, we learnt how to practically implement Karm Yog in our daily lives. However, there are a few concepts regarding the benefits of Karm Yog – let us understand how to transform bondage-creating karmas into bondage-breaking karmas.
How does Karm Yog free one from the bondage of karm?
Karm means both the actions we perform, and the results of those actions. Any action carried out with a worldly motivation, good or bad, is binding to the soul because it creates an outcome that must be undergone in the next, or any future life. Thus, karm itself is neither good nor bad. Depending upon our state of mind, it can be either binding or elevating. Actions performed solely for the gratification of the senses and fulfillment of pride are the cause of bondage in the material world, while actions performed for the pleasure of the Supreme Lord liberates one from maya and attracts divine grace. Karm Yog refers to those actions that are free of any worldly motivation, and are performed only to please God (as an offering to Him). These actions do not produce any binding result to be undergone in the future. Thus, Karm Yog is also called Akarm, which means non-action. It means that a yogi is not adding to his stock of past actions. Thus, Karm Yog frees one from the bondage of karm.
However, even if we do not create any new binding karm, we still have unlimited karm from unlimited past lives waiting to fructify. These are called sanchit karm. Since our sanchit karm is unlimited, there is no way for a soul to free themselves from the bondage of karm through their own effort. It is only through the grace of God, when one achieves the state of total surrender to Him, that one is completely released from Karmic bondage. Karm Yog is one of the paths that gradually takes one closer to this state of complete surrender to God (along with Gyan Yog and Bhakti Yog, which will be discussed later).
How does Karm Yog free one from the bondage of birth and death?
The Gita teaches us that working without attachment to the fruits of actions, leads one to the state which is beyond suffering. The paradox of life is that we strive for happiness, but reap misery; we crave love but meet with disappointment; and we covet life, but are moving toward death with every passing moment.
The blind pursuit of finding happiness in the world has been going on for countless lifetimes, and yet there is no sight of happiness. The cause of a soul’s rebirth in the mayic world is their past un-fructified karm. As long as this sanchit karm remains, the soul is bound to take rebirth to continue receiving the consequences of those actions. Once the sanchit karm has been eliminated through God’s grace, there is no reason compelling the soul to take birth again. Thus, that soul is freed from the cycle of birth and death.
How does Karm Yog result in the attainment of God?
Karm Yog, as described above means performing our actions for the pleasure of God, thus attracting His divine grace. By God’s grace, one starts experiencing a deeper connection with the divine and the agitation for sensual desires is gradually reduced. Once that hankering for material objects ceases, one goes beyond all suffering and the mind becomes tranquil. In that state of internal contentment and peace, the intellect becomes firm in its decision that God alone is the source of happiness and is the ultimate goal of human birth. Previously, the intellect was accepting this only on the basis of knowledge as stated in the scriptures, but now it gets the experience of perfect peace and bliss. Upon complete surrender to God, He graces you to be freed from the bondage of karm and the cycle of birth and death. Simultaneously, He releases you from the bondage of maya. Maya is the original cosmic energy that has taken the form of the material universe. This material existence is like an endless ocean that separates you from God. With the grace of God, the veil of maya is removed, and you instantly unite with God, Who is the very form of Divine bliss and knowledge (sat chit anand).
After hearing Shree Krishna’s explanation of Karm Yog, Arjun asks what the characteristics of a God realized soul are. How does a God-realized personality talk, sit, and behave in the world? We will find out how Shree Krishna answers this question in the next article.