[Advaita-l] On Karma yoga - Part III - The Wheal of Action

kuntimaddi sadananda kuntimaddisada at yahoo.com
Mon Dec 26 19:21:23 CST 2005

We discussed in part II, the secret of success in any endeavor. The
success is possible when one performs the action in the spirit of
yagna.The spirit of yagna involves a collective cooperative endeavor
with each component contributing to its best in complete
self-sacrificing mode for the benefit of the totality. Then totality
will prosper.  While providing this secret for success, Krishna also
warns that if the action is not performed in the spirit of yagna, it
will bind the individual causing one to go down the drain.  Bhagavaan
Ramana says –
‘kRitimahodadhou patanakaaranam’ – one gets trapped into the whirl-pool
of action, karma to janma to karma, punarapi jananam punarapi maraNam.
One is trapped in the ocean of samsaar, with no end in sight. 

When collective effort is involved as in yagna, and when the results
come out of such yagna, then the fair game is to share the results
(yagna shishhTa) in proportion to one’s contribution to the yagna.
Krishna provides another warning here. Those that partake more than
their share, depriving the others their fair share, are essentially
stealing from others.  He will be not only committing sin but taking the
other’s sin as well.  The law of action and reaction not only operates
at the individual level, but also at organizational level and the
national level, as well.  In addition, those who do not work in the
spirit of yagna but work for their own selfish goals (in the language of
Gita, those who cook for themselves) they commit sin too.  

The laws of action are uncompromisingly ruthless and operate at cosmic
level.  However, for those who understand these laws and operate
withinthe laws, the same laws protect them.  Looking at small window of
one own life span, one gets the impression that one is getting away
without any appropriate compensation or punishment. The laws operate at
the cosmic level.  The law of action and result is that everyone gets
what he deserves, and not what he wants or does not want. The present is
the result of past, and the future will be the result of the past
modified by the present action. The choice is given for us, the humans
(karmani eva adhikaaraste) to steer out of the wrongdoings of the past
by properly performing the actions now, in the spirit of yagna. One can
also damn himself by improper action or adharmic action.  The choice is
ours.  It is never too late to steer oneself out of this bondage. 
Krishna assures – swalpamalpasya dharmasya trayate mahato bhayaat| - if
one starts performing even a little bit with the spirit of yagna, he
gains a lot in return and slowly goes beyond the fear of death. 

The wheel of action: 

In addition to the spirit of yagna, Krishna provides a glimpse of how
the wheel of action operates at the cosmic level, using the language of
the yore.  This is beautifully picturized in the Mahabhaart TV series. 
Every episode stats with the wheel rotating at the cosmic level, with
all the planets and stars moving around.  Indian astrology is based on
the observation that the exact position of the stars and planets with
reference to the time and place of the birth of an individual provides a
clue about his praarabda – or conversely the place and time of his birth
and the position of the stars and planets are determined by his
praarabda.  It is an interesting point to consider in relation to the
wheel of action.  

Krishna says that when one performs the yagna (with all the doos and
don’ts) properly, the gods will be pleased and those gods in turn please
those who performed the yagna. Thus by pleasing each other, one attains
the success.  So, the second condition for success is pleasing the Gods.
This leads to topic of the eternal wheel of action:  Krishna says the
beings are born of out of food, the food is born out of rains, rains are
born out of yagna, yagna is born out of action, action is the product of
Vedas, and Vedas are from the Lord; – therefore know that Lord is always
established in yagna.  Therefore Arjuna, yagnaartham kuru – do the
action for yagna sake that is do the action as an offering to the Lord. 
This becomes iswaraararpita buddhi. 

We can unravel the significance of the words used above to appeal for
our rational intellects. Gods are the production potential in the field
of action.  Pleasing the gods therefore means performing the action as
the field or the situation demands.  Gods are pleased when the required
actions are performed to their best.  When the Gods are pleased they
have to give the results appropriate for the action.  When the results
come, one has now a new set of environment that demands next action
which again has to be performed in the spirit of yagna to please the
Gods. Thus by pleasing one another the wheel of action is set in motion.

The life involves dynamic action.  Nature by itself is dynamic. The
earth rotates, the seasons come and go, the seeds sprout, plants grow
producing seeds, which again sprout giving rise to plants and thus life
goes on, and the beginningless cycle of creation, sustenance and decay
goes on eternally. 

In Tai. Up. it says aatmaanam aakaashH sambuutaH 
 and so on and
pRithivii then oshadayaH, then annam and then it says annaat purushH.
Annam stands for what you eat (if you eat too much then it will eat
you). annamaya kosha is born out of food, sustained by food and goes
back into food. (Food also supports mano maya and vijnaana maya koshaas
too – You can test this by fasting more than a day or two and see how
your mind looses the capacity to think. In fact, Uddaalaka gives this
test to his son swetaketu.  Of course, if you eat too much also the mind
cannot function, as it goes to sleep. Hence Krishna advocates yukta
aahaaram, a balanced amount of food).

  Food, here, includes all that one consumes through the five senses. 
When one consumes the karma phala, it will leave vasanaas behind which
forms the kaaraNa or cause for beings to be born. Hence Krishnaa say
annaat bhavanti bhuutaani – beings are born because of enjoying the
karmaphala with ego-centric attitude.  If annam is taken as prasaadam
then the question of enjoying prasaadam is not there. You accept
whatever is given with reverential attitude.  Thus partaking prasaad or
as prasaad purifies the mind. 

Food is born out of rains.  Rains are essentially the results that are
showered due to the actions that are performed.  Hence Krishna says
‘Food is born out of rains, parjanyaat anna sambhavaH’. The results that
one desires come from yagnas as we discussed above, where yagna stands
for cooperative endeavor. Hence ‘yagnaat bhavati parjanyaH’.  Since
yagna involves cooperative endeavor Krishna says the rains (results) are
due to karmas or actions. Karma comes from Veda – since we are dealing
with Veda vihita karmas or obligatory duties specified by Veda.  To be
more general, Veda means knowledge. The obligatory duties come from
clear understanding (or knowledge) of one’s role as an individual in the
family, in the society, in the nation and in the world. Finally the
Vedas come from the Lord. This is to be understood both from the Veda as
pramaaNa which is considered as aourusheya i.e. not authored by any
human. It also means in the absolute sense Knowledge which is unborn, is
eternal, ever present, It is essentially the Brahman as cit swaruupa,
knowing which there is nothing else to be known, ‘yat jnaatvaa naaparam
jnyeyam, tat brahmetyavadhaarayet’. Therefore, know Arjuna that all
pervading Brahman is eternally present in the yagna.

In essence, perform your duties in the spirit of yagna and from the
results that come out of that action take what you deserve.  Keep only
what you need and return back to the totality in the form of yagna
(which includes all the pancha bhuuta yagnas discussed above). Thus
become an participant in this eternal wheel of action.  This way one
purifies his mind and makes it free from the pressure of Vasana-s.

  Swami Chinmayandaji has developed a Chinmaya Mission pledge, based on
this principle, which essentially is recognition and commitment to this
eternal wheel of action, to be performed by a saadhak for his growth. 
We stand as one family bound to each other with love and respect. 

We serve as an army, courageous and disciplined, ever ready to fight 
against all low tendencies and false values, within and without us.

We live honestly the noble life of sacrifice and service, producing more
than what we consume, and giving more than what we take. 

We seek the Lord's grace, to keep us on the path of virtue, courage and
May Thy grace and blessings flow through us to the world around us. 

We believe that the service of our country is the service of the Lord of
Lords, and devotion to the people 
is the devotion to the Supreme Self. 

We know our responsibilities; Give us the ability and courage to fulfill

Om Tat Sat .
End of part III. Next we will discuss about the devoted action. 

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