Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Can you find a single living cell anywhere in the universe idle for a single moment? Impossible. At the level of the atom,or even sub-atomic particle level, or any other gross levels, even the non living matter is constantly on the move. 

Action, or Karma, is the unique characteristic that divides the Universe into countless individual parts, each functioning at its individual level , performing its designated karma incessantly, further grouping with other parts of the universe to function at gross levels, at grosser levels, and at further (bigger) grosser levels and finally integrating at the universe level to join an unfathomable cosmic dance.

Action is at the root of all change and change is the only constant in the tangible world.

It is true at the gross level of human beings as well.  We are always performing some action or other. We can never be action-less. Our whole life is a leap from one action to another  at every moment. At grosser levels, we are part of the cosmic dance. 

But, we, as human beings, are unique, in the sense that we are capable of understanding our part of this cosmic dance and enjoying the same. Also, the creator has given us the unique capability of choosing our Karma.

We perform actions, some times consciously,seeking some specific result and some times unconsciously, without seeking any specific result. 

We are sometimes reaping the results we are seeking. But, some times, the results are totally on unexpected lines. But, there is not one single action, which does not give any result. Every Action is a Cause - and every Cause has an Effect. Every Effect then. becomes fresh Cause; results in Fresh Action - and the Cycle goes on.

Why are so many good and bad events happening to us, without our seeking them? You must have wondered many times. Why?

All of our actions and their results are based on the laws of a universally applicable science, called the SCIENCE OF ACTION, or KARMA YOGA.

I will try to examine the Science of Action from the modern view point as also the view point of Lord Krishna expounded most beautifully in Bhagavad Gita.

Bhagavad Gita, is an absolute, scientific Text - and it would be wrong to classify it another Religious Text.

In this first post on the SCIENCE OF ACTION, I  will place before you what  Krishna says in Ch.2. Sankhya Yoga, about it.

Chapter.2 of the Gita proclaims, "Yogah karmasu Kausalam," (vs.2.50) which simply means, "Yoga is excellence in action". 

Krishna is unequivocal in saying that every action must conform to the best standards of excellence. He applies all tests of science to human actions, so that they conform to the highest standards of excellence. If our actions do not emanate from the spirit of excellence, they do not come under Karma Yoga or science of action. They become ordinary Karma or Action. When such Action is raised to the level of excellence, it becomes transformed as Karma Yoga.

Courage is the first and foremost quality of any great action.

In Vs.2.3, Krishna says, "kshudram hridhaya Daurbalyam'" - meaning, all weaknesses of the heart ,like fear, are highly demeaning  and must be got rid of. You need courage and bravery in life, to succeed in any field of human endeavour. 

Krishna's exhortation at this point is to make all human beings, perform their actions with utmost courage and excellence.

Recognize the inevitable factors in life, says Krishna.  Birth, childhood,youth, middle age, old age, death are all inevitable factors of life for all of us. We must take all of them with equanimity. 

Do not grieve over them. Do not grieve over those who are dead, or those who are alive and going to die.(vs.2.11) This has great relevance for excellence in action.

Accept victory and defeat, profit and loss, and comfort and discomfort with equanimity while performing your actions - says Krishna in Vs.2.18. There can be no excellence in your actions if your mindset does not conform to this prescription.

Just because you may or may not be able to complete a great task, do not assume that you should not begin it at all, says Krishna. You will reap the results of even uncompleted tasks. You can again begin them from where you left off.(vs.2.40) Krishna exhorts you to start first. Don't worry that your strength is not enough, your knowledge is not enough or it is not good time   at all. However much you do, you will benefit from that and you can later start from where you left off, Krishna assures.

Vs.2.47 beautifully sums the gist of the SCIENCE OF ACTION (karma yoga) as below :

"Man has the absolute right for action but not for its fruits. But, for that reason, he must not avoid action. He must go on with his duty without  indulging himself in the  thought of getting or not getting the final  fruits of action."

This verse sums up the science of action in Sankhya Yoga Chapter itself. This verse is highly scientific in nature. 


Man must choose the actions he performs.This choice, let us clearly understand, is not left to divinity. You are the one who is choosing your actions. You may do it with conscious planning or totally without planning, either for beneficial purposes or for destructive purposes; either for selfish purposes or for unselfish purposes. But,you  alone are the chooser of your actions. Krishna is unequivocal in declaring that you are the chooser of your actions. Don't blame it on others. Don't blame it on God.


But, you do not have a similar right for the fruits of your actions. This particular sentence is much misunderstood, though Krishna elucidated it at many places. The confusion arises from taking this part of the verse separately out of context and looking at it in a very narrow context.Let us take a few examples to understand this.


Once you perform any action, your action is taken over by the universal forces that are acting everywhere. They give you the fruits of your action in accordance with their UNIVERSAL PROPERTIES or their Dharmas.


You are free to put your finger in FIRE. You have absolute choice of action to do this. Don't blame any one for this. Don't blame the fire for it. It is not divinity who is prompting you do this. You, and you alone are the CHOOSER. But, what fire will do to your finger depends on the universal properties of FIRE and not on your choice.  You may want that FIRE should not burn your fingers. But, fire burns who so ever puts his fingers in to it, and does not spare your fingers. It is not biased in anybody's favour. To burn anything is the absolute, universal property of fire. You must understand this before performing your actions. So, the result of your action depends not on you but on the properties of fire.

Water flows downwards. So, rivers are formed. And, rivers flow towards Sea.

Your body is filled about 75 percent with liquids. You feel thirsty when this water goes out of body and you are satiated by only water and liquids and not by food. Water has certain universal properties and you must understand them in your actions to reap their proper consequences. But, you cannot choose the fruits of your actions beyond or opposite to that of the universal properties of water. You have no such choice on the fruits of action.Results are not because of your choice, but, because of the universal properties of the forces acting on your action.

Air flows into any vacuum. It fills all vacuum in your body also. Air,space, water, earth, fire, Sun, Moon and every thing in the universe have their unique, universal properties and these properties decide the fruits of your actions.Therefore, you can't choose the fruits of your actions. You can of course, choose your actions wisely, knowing these universal properties.

You may throw a stone at the mango on the tree branch. Whether the stone hits the mango or falls on the bald head of the man walking on the other side depends on all such forces that are acting in the universe. Even if you aim correctly, air may displace the mango or the tree branch after you completed your throw.You are thus not the only actor in the universe. There are many others too. This is the reason why Krishna says, you have every right to choose your actions. But, you have no such rights to choose the fruits of your actions. It does not mean you will be goalless in your actions. It only means,that  your goals are also part of the choice of your action and not part of the choice of results. Once your action is complete, the other forces act from there. The final result is the effect of all such forces and their universal properties.


The next rule krishna tells us is that you cannot remain action-less for the reason that you have no CHOICE on the fruits of your action. This part of Law of Action is unique in its use to humanity. As Krishna elucidates at many places and as many upanishads also proclaim, keep your goal lofty. Your action will benefit you and many others. Go on doing your Karma whether it benefits you, your near and dear or many others. The loftier your goal, the greater are the fruits of the Karma. As modern social scientists say, if you don't want to claim credit or profit for yourself, you can perform extraordinary actions. 

V.2.48 precisely focuses on this, and says, you  must leave out your selfishness and of your near and dear, in which case, your actions will get upgraded from Karma to Karma yoga, or excellence in action.

It is at this point, that Krishna gives a distinct definition of yoga, as excellence in action (v.2.50). 


What is it that can pose obstacles for this excellence in action. it is our own sensual likes and dislikes which distract us from our actions, from time to time(v.2.60). Is this not right? 

How many brilliant students lose  their exams or get lower marks simply because of sensual pleasures and distractions? Brilliant Golfers, cricketers and footballers spoil their careers because of the same reason. 

If you are not progressing in any of your goals, look for the sensual distractions which are your major obstructions.Control these and your success rate will be much better. Your distractions are basically arising from your own LIKES and DISLIKES. Beware of them. They wont allow you to see the truth.(vs.2.64).

= yours


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