Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Ch12:karmayoga-response to a query


12.10 prescribes performance of actions for the Lord's sake. 12.11 suggests
renouncing the fruits of actions *if 12.10 cannot be practiced*.
That conditional clause in ** is a little baffling, which gives an
impression that 12.10 and 12.11 are two distinct prescriptions for
the same samsArik malady.

A doubt can, therefore, be expressed that, if an aspirant performs
all actions for the Lord's sake (12.10), can he/she still continue to
entertain adhikAra over the results? Will that help? You seemed to
imply that even the sense of adhikAra will wane in due course. Am I

You have very kindly elaborated on 12.11 saying that what is meant in
it is prasAda buddhi. On similar lines, can't we then interpret
12.10 as relinquishment of agency in actions?

In my understanding there is a subtle but crucial difference between the 12.10
and 12.11.
Which is why, Bhagwan says "if you are unable to do even this then...."

To begin with karma in a vedantic or vedic sense is different from the word
action - in a vedantic sense the term karma is intimately related to the motive.

Let us take the example of an action - stabbing a person in the chest.
A person is stabbing a person in the chest to rob him off his money in the
A soldier is stabbing an enemy soldier in the battlefield to safeguard Kargil.
A rapist is stabbing an attacker who is about to outrage her modesty
A doctor is "stabbing" a dying patient's chest to remove the blood collection
around his heart to save his life.

In all the instances the action is the same - insertion of a sharp metallic
knife into the other person's chest - but none of these karmas are the same and
each of these karmas have different connotations as far as karmaphalas go.
The robber certainly will incur a grave papa, the soldier actually a grave
punya, and also perhaps the physician.
And this is because what constitutes that particular karma has to do with the
notion of doer-ship or kartrtvam, or aham-kAra, and by the same token, as well
as its motive.(BG 18:14)

Now let us consider 12.10 with this brief background, and go back to the
example of the teacher.
If this teacher goes through her job everyday viewing it as her duty towards
society and in turn towards the Order which is Ishwara, in other words has a
consistent and persistent ishwara-arpanabuddhi, then her work itself is her
worship. The results are immaterial. If her student succeeds and goes on to
become the President of India and sends her a thank you note - OK. If he turns
out to be a gangster - also OK. Her success or failure is unrelated to the
success or failure of her job - her motive in doing this job is not for the sake
of anything else besides her way of worshipping or devoting or relating to
Ishwara. And in so doing the results become secondary - there is really speaking
no ownership over the result because the basic motivation for the work itself
has already been fulfilled. Every day of work is a pleasure, a chance to delight
in devotion.

Now if this teacher is not so virtuous, and is still very much under the hold
of her human raga-dveshas, and is not able to have this kind of absorption in
the Lord as even she does her works - what then? She is worried about how her
students are going to fare in their test, and whether she will be judged by
their grades as a success or a failure, she is envious of the teacher in the
other class who always gets more praise, she starts taking some private tutions
to some rich kids, so as to make more money, and be more comfortable, she is
anxious about a hundred different things, then how is such a person to begin to
evolve? Bhagwan the Master Marketer knows his audience only too well!! So, to
this the benevolent Bhagawan says no problem - in 12.11 - continue being this
way, continue your ego-centric motive-driven, ahankara-filled mode of conduct,
but how about making a small gesture towards Me - by all means be anxious about
the best teacher award, by all means don't
think of me for a second while you did your job, BUT at the time you reap your
reward, say you receive the best teacher award at the end of the year, or
perhaps even when you get your paycheck at the end of the month, or when you see
your student doing well at the end of the day, or you are able to make a student
understand something at the end of the class, then for that small instant -
think of Me - and dedicate that fruit - that karmaphala - to Me. Let your mind
not labor under the misconception that "i" this wonderful person did something
remarkable, but let my ego bow down to Him if only for a moment, who gave me the
intellect, the mind, the body, the environment, the education, the opportunity
to be of service, etc and let my heart beat in gratitude in this moment of
recognition, and let my mind remain cheerful, and accepting.

If this attitude is allowed to mature it will surely metamorphose from this
prasabuddhi into the more sublime ishwara-arpanabuddhi - "kAyena vAchA
manaseindriyair vA buddhyAtmanA vA prakrte svabhAvat karomi yad yad sakalam
parasmai nArAyanAyEti samarpayami"

Hari OM
Shri Gurubhyoh namah

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