The Essence of Karma Yoga


Karma Yoga is the yoga of dedicated action. In the path of Karma yoga a seeker takes an active part in the world, not for earthly fame or gain, but to bring about a more divine life on earth.

The secret of Karma Yoga is detachment. This means an aspirant is not attached to the result of his actions. He takes both failure and success with the same equanimity. This means he is not bloated with pride at success; nor does he despair when outwardly things appear to be a failure. In the Bhagavad Gita (Chapter II: 47) Sri Krishna advises his dear disciple Arjuna about the nature of Karma Yoga.

“Your only duty is to act and not to hanker after the fruits (or the results) thereof.’ Be not the purpose of your actions. Let not the work bind and blind you. Work with total non-attachment and selfless attitude.”

In Karma Yoga the seeker is working with the hope and aspiration of serving God. In Karma yoga the seeker’s only desire is to fulfil the will of God. In the eyes of the world an action can be judged on how significant it is. However to a Karma Yogin even the smallest of actions becomes of the utmost importance, if it is performed with the correct attitude.

A Karmin yogi does not believe in the path of renunciation. Unlike a jnani yogi a Karma yogi aspires to serve God through serving God in humanity. Sri Chinmoy says of Karma Yoga.

“Karma Yoga is desireless action undertaken for the sake of the Supreme. Karma Yoga is man’s genuine acceptance of his earthly existence. Karma Yoga is man’s dauntless march across the battlefield of life.”

We do not have to be a Hindu or even believe in God to practise Karma Yoga. If we feel we are working not for ourselves but for the cause of the divine then we are bringing the ideals of Karma yoga into the heart of humanity. By serving a higher cause with an attitude of detachment we learn to conquer the ego. The Karmin yoga makes progress by growing in to a more illumined consciousness. By doing this we no longer feel to be only our individual ego. We come to identify ourselves with the rest of humanity.

Richard is an economics teacher in Oxford and is a member of the Sri Chinmoy Centre. Richard edits a blog about meditation [] and spirituality.

He also contributes to a site about the yoga and life of Sri Chinmoy:

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