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Necessity For Karma Yoga

by Swami Sivananda

Rivers always give fresh, good, drinking water for all living beings. Trees give fruits and shade. Sun gives light, heat and energy. Earth brings forth all sorts of vegetables and grains. Flowers give beauty. Cows give nutritious milk. Except man, all objects do lot of self-sacrifice. Man only is extremely selfish.

Spiritual culture is a sine qua non and a great desideratum for national regeneration. The goal of life is Self-realisation. Spiritual culture alone can develop the will-force (Atma Bala) and make people unselfish, fearless, courageous and strong, and remove Moha for the body. Those who are unselfish alone can really serve the country, can work in terms of unity and can have real cosmic love for all (Visva Prema).

Everybody is generous to himself, to his wife and children. He ignores others. He vainly imagines that he is separated from others. This is ignorance. This is Maya. This is the cause for birth and death and for human miseries and sufferings. Separation is death. Unity is eternal life.

Conquer the hearts of men through pure love. Adhere to Truth and march victoriously in the field of Yoga. Annihilate egoism and enter the infinite domain of supreme peace. Destroy ignorance and attain knowledge of the Self. Crush the Vasanas and enter the illimitable realm of Eternal Bliss.

Selfishness is the source of all vices. It is born of ignorance. A selfish man is greedy and unrighteous. He is far from God. He will do anything to attain his ends. He injures others, robs their properties and does many sinful actions to satisfy his selfishness. He has neither scruples nor character.

Peace of mind is unknown to him. He is always planning and scheming for acquisition of wealth, power, name and fame. He always separates himself from others. He is very much attached to his wife, children and property. Attachment and sense of separateness are present in him to a maximum degree. Selfishness is a great impediment to Yoga. Destroy selfishness through selfless service, charity, Satsanga.

Through selfishness, you have become narrow-minded. Your heart has become small and contracted. Through serving and helping others disinterestedly, your heart expands. You become one with God or Brahman. Therefore take delight in service.

Many people spend their lives on the banks of the Ganga for several years. They do Japa and Kirtan and study books on Vedanta. They repeat the formula: "Aham Brahmasmi" very often and yet they do not have any realisation. They are in the same state as they were some years ago, because they do not possess large heart (Chitta Visalata). They have no generous heart (Udara Vritti). Chitta Visalata is a fundamental virtue which the seeker after Truth should possess. Untiring selfless charitable acts, service of the humanity, kind acts, spontaneous and unrestrained generosity will produce expansion of heart quickly. One Atman dwells in the hearts of all beings. How can you realise Him if you do not possess all-embracing love, if you do not share what you have with others?

Man is not only a citizen of this world but also of many worlds. He has to face dangers and temptations not only in this world but also in other worlds. The plane of the Gandharvas is full of temptations. That is the reason why it is said in Yoga Sastras that the aspirant should purify himself first, should control his senses, should eradicate his desires, should be established in Yama before he attempts to awaken his Kundalini, the sleeping potential Sakti that lies dormant in the basal Muladhara Chakra. If Kundalini is awakened before he attains purity by Asanas, Bandhas, Mudras and Pranayama, he will come across the temptations of the other planes, he will have no strength of will to resist these temptations and will have a hopeless downfall. It will be very difficult for him to climb up again to the original height which he climbed in the ladder of Yoga. Therefore the aspirant should try to purify himself first. If perfect purity is attained through Japa, Kirtan and constant selfless service, Kundalini will awaken by itself and move towards the Sahasrara at the crown of the head to meet Her Lord Siva, the trident-bearer of Mount Kailas, the store-house of wisdom, bliss and peace.

Nishkamya Karma or the unselfish performance of the duties of life (Svadharma) is the first step towards the attainment of the beatitude of life. The practice of Nishkamya Karma purifies the heart and destroys the sense of separateness. Then you will have to take to Upasana to steady the mind and obtain the grace of the Lord. Finally Vedanta will help you to destroy the veil of ignorance and attain Kaivalya Moksha or the final release from the round of births and deaths.

Develop eager enthusiasm for selfless disinterested service. Have a wide, generous, large-hearted tolerance. Be kind to all. Love all. Serve all. Serve the Lord in all.

Learn to give. There is immense joy in giving. Very few can understand this. Learn to resign to the will of God. There is indescribable peace in self-surrender. Very few can realise this. Learn to discriminate. There is ineffable bliss in discriminating between the real and the unreal. Very few can recognise this. Learn to be dispassionate. There is eternal satisfaction in cultivating Vairagya. Very few can know this.

Some are able to work, but they cannot meditate. Some can meditate but they cannot work. This is one-sided development. There must be a healthy combination of meditation and selfless work. This is the Yoga of Synthesis. This is dynamic Yoga. Then only you will not complain of Vikshepa or tossing of mind, when you move in the world or when you remain in seclusion. Then only you can keep up balance of mind. Then only you will have integral development.

Develop cosmic love (Visva Prema). Identify yourself with the Visva Atman (soul of the world, universal soul). Destroy selfishness and petty-mindedness. Expand. Expand. Awake. Arise. Throw off your lethargy, indifference. Lead the life of oneness and unity. Manifest the hidden powers. Assert. Affirm. Realise the Self. A glorious future is awaiting you.

If you are attached to your wife and children, you cannot develop universal love. You cannot look upon all mankind as kith and kin. You cannot cultivate universal brotherhood. You cannot extend the same love which you have for your children to other children. You cannot consider all children as your own children. You will have a constricted or narrow heart. Your love will be confined to a few persons only. Through selfishness, you have created a boundary wall round the members of your small family only. You always think: "Let my family members duly prosper. Let us only be happy. Why should I bother about the welfare of others?"

Whereas the man who has developed universal love has equal vision for all. He loves and embraces all. All children are his. All men are his brothers. All women are his sisters. The whole world is his family. The whole world is his home. He sympathises with all. He serves all. He shares what he has with all. He cares for the well-being of all. He sacrifices his interests for the interest of others. He lives and dies for others. What a magnanimous personality. What an expanded heart he has. He is a veritable God on earth.

Vedanta without heart is quite dry. Bhakti without knowledge is blind and unsteady. Karma gives a finishing touch. You give expression to your inner feelings through Karma. Through unselfish service, you can develop pure Advaitic feelings. How can a liberated soul, who sees the Self in all beings, desist from serving the world.

People who manifest definite deep and active sympathy towards sufferers are very rare. The world abounds with people who show some kind of lip-sympathy or vague shallow sympathy. The man of active and definite sympathy at once shares what he has with the afflicted person. He has a very soft heart. His heart melts the moment he sees a man in acute distress. He actually feels himself the pangs of the distressed person. He who shows lip-sympathy is a confirmed hypocrite. The man of indefinite or vague shallow sympathy feels a bit when he sees a man in a pitiable condition, but he is not willing to give him something from his purse. He keeps his fists closed. This man is better than the man who evinces lip-sympathy because he can be corrected and improved in course of time. The vague sympathy man may assume the type of definite or positive sympathy when the man evolves through more experiences.

Selfless service of humanity prepares the aspirant for the attainment of cosmic consciousness or the life of oneness or unity with God.

One who has no purity of heart though versed in the Vedic lore or scriptural knowledge, cannot comprehend the Great One or the Supreme Soul who dwells in the chambers of the hearts of all beings, who is the support for the world, who is all-pervading and self-luminous.

What is the object in Seva or service? Why do you serve poor people and the suffering humanity at large? Why do you serve the society and the country? By doing service you purify your heart. Egoism, hatred, jealousy, idea of superiority vanish. Humility, pure love, sympathy, tolerance and mercy are developed. Sense of separateness is annihilated. Selfishness is eradicated. You get a broad outlook of life. You begin to feel oneness or unity of life. You develop a broad heart with broad generous views. Eventually you get knowledge of the Self. You realise the 'One in all' and 'all in One'. You feel unbounded joy. Society is nothing but a collection of units or individuals. World is nothing but manifestation of God. Service of humanity is service of God only. Service is worship. One should work with this Bhava. Then he can have quick realisation and purification of heart.

Live within. Merge in the Soul. Know the Self. Become That. Be free. Move about happily. Nations can be united through love, knowledge of Self and deep understanding.

Communities can be linked through spiritual culture or practice of Vedanta. Races can be joined through realisation of the ancient wisdom of the Upanishads. Different sects and cults can be united through expansion of heart and broad tolerance. Members of a family can be united through Prema, complacency and knowledge.


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