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Yoga of Equanimity

by Swami Sivananda

Worldly people are generally elated by success and depressed by failure. Elation and depression are the attributes of the mind. If you want to become a real Karma Yogi in the right sense of the term, you will have to keep a balanced mind at all times, in all conditions and under all circumstances. This is no doubt very difficult. But you will have to do it anyhow. Then only will you have peace of mind and real lasting happiness. He who keeps a balanced mind is a Jnani. Karma Yoga prepares the mind for the attainment of Jnana. That is the beauty of Karma Yoga. That is the secret and essence of Karma Yoga.

There must not be the least attachment to any kind of work. You must be ready to leave any work at any time. There may be a divine call upon you for certain work. You will have to take it up at once without grumbling, whatever may the nature of the work be, whether you are willing or not. You will have to stop it also, if conditions and circumstances demand you to do so. This is Yoga. There is no attachment to the work here.

Many people get attached to the work. They like some kind of work and they take interest in it. They dislike some other kind of work. They are unwilling to leave it also, if conditions want it to be stopped. They take undue responsibility on their shoulders, pine and labour under care, worries and anxieties. This is not Yoga at all, because there is attachment to the work owing to the quality of Rajas. Worldly people always work with attachment. Hence they suffer. If there is a divine call, you may start a world-wide movement. You must be prepared to stop it at any time if God wills, even though you do not get any success here. It is not your look out to get success or failure. Simply obey the divine call and act like a soldier on the battlefield. There is great joy in such kind of work because there is no personal element here.

Keep the reason rooted in the Self. Have a poised mind amidst the changes of the world. Work for the fulfilment of purposes divine. Do not expect any fruit. Do everything as Isvararpana. Work for the welfare of the world in unison with the Divine Will. Allow the divine energy to work unhampered through your instruments. The moment your egoism comes in, there will be immediate blocking of the free flow of the divine energy. Make your Indriyas perfect instruments for His Lila. Keep the body-flute hollow by emptying it of your egoism. Then the Flute-Bearer of Brindavan will play freely through this body-flute. He will work through your instruments. Then you will feel the lightness of the work. You will feel that God works through you. You will be washed of all the responsibilities. You will be as free as a bird. You will feel that you are quite a changed being. Your egoism will try to re-enter. Be careful. Be on the alert. By gradual practice and purification of the mind you will become an expert in Karma Yoga. All your actions will be perfect and selfless. All actions will eventually culminate in Jnana. This is the Yoga of equanimity.

This kind of Yoga is inculcated by Lord Krishna in His teachings:

Yogasthah Kuru Karmani Sangam Tyaktva Dhananjaya
Sidhyasidhyoh Samo Bhutva, Samatvam Yoga Uchyate.

"Perform action, O Dhananjaya, dwelling in union with the Divine, renouncing attachments, and balanced evenly in success and failure; equilibrium is Yoga." Gita: Chapter II-48.

You will have to leave even such subtle attachment as: "May God be pleased." Work merely for the sake of the Lord. Then even eating, walking, talking, sleeping, breathing and answering calls of nature will become Yogic activity. Work becomes worship. This is the great secret. You will have to learn it by gradual practice in the field of Karma Yoga. You will have to spiritualise all your actions. You will have to transmute all your actions into Yoga by practice. Mere theorising will not do. Understand the secrets of Karma Yoga. Work unselfishly. Become a true Karma Yogi and enjoy the infinite bliss of the Atman.

Merit and demerit, Punya and Papa, do not affect that Karma Yogi who has evenness or equanimity of mind, for he exults not over the good fruit of the one nor worries over the bad fruit of the other. He has equanimity of mind in success and failure. His mind is always resting in God all the while. Works which are of a binding nature lose that character when performed with a balanced mind. The Karma Yogi has no attachment to sensual objects. He has purified his mind by constant selfless service. He has given up all idea of agency. He treats the body as an instrument of God, given to him for the fulfilment of His purpose. He attributes all activities to the Divine Actor within. He who is established in the Yoga of equanimity becomes an expert in the science of Karma Yoga. That is the reason why Lord Krishna says:

Buddhiyukto jaha teeha ubhe sukritadushkrite,
Tasmat yogaya yujyasva yogah karmasu kausalam.

"United to the pure reason, one abandoneth here both good and evil deeds: therefore cleave thou to Yoga; Yoga is skill in action." Gita: Chapter II-50.

The Karma Yogi who possesses evenness of mind casts off the fruits of actions. He escapes from good and bad births. Clinging to fruit only is the cause of rebirth. When all actions are performed for God's sake in fulfilment of His purpose without desire for fruit, the Karma Yogi gets illumination. He shakes off the bondage of birth. He attains knowledge of Brahman and through Brahma Jnana, liberation or Moksha. In the Gita you will find:

Karmajam buddhiyukta hi phalam tyaktva manishinah,
Janmabandhavinirmuktah padam gachchantyanamayam.

"The sages, united to the pure reason, renounce the fruit which action yieldeth, and, liberated from the bonds of birth, they go to the blissful seat." Gita: Chapter II-51.


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