[Advaita-l] Are actions essentially meaningless?

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Sun Dec 23 18:13:20 CST 2012

On Sat, 22 Dec 2012, Suresh wrote:

> So my question is, is prescribed action simply a way to do away with 
> this restlessness (caused by our vasanas)? Is it simply a means to an 
> end? That's why I gave the prison example - doing something until we are 
> free of all residual karma.

Today, Margashirsha Shukla 11, is Gita Jayanti and it is fitting to 
examine the answer Bhagavan gave to your very important question.

karma is divided into three categories nitya, naimittika, and kamya.  Of 
these only the third can be classified as "means to an end."  The first 
two are obligatory precisely because they are not done out of 
self-interest (svArtha.)  For Arjuna the Kshatriya prince the prescribed 
karma is war so he is told in 2.38

sukhaduHkhe same kR^itvA lAbhAlAbhau jayAjayau |
tato yuddhAya yujayasva naivaM pApamavApsyasi ||

"Holding happiness and sorrow as equal, fortune and loss, victory and 
defeat, thus commit yourself to battle and you shall never be touched by 

When one acts it is usually for selfish gain.  On reaching a certain level 
of maturity one realizes the futility of these selfish acts.  Think of it 
like this: a persons first impulse on getting a job might be to spend all 
the paycheck on whims.  But a more mature outlook might be to realize that 
saving some money will allow you to buy better things in the future.  By 
the "inaction" of not-spending you eventually get more power to spend. 
So to in the adhyatmic realm, those roped in by desire for swarga etc. 
come to learn that true immortality comes from surrendering the notion of "I 
want" and dedicating all ones actions as a sacrifice to Ishwara.  Knowing 
that Ishwara is the source and pervader of all that is, how can that 
dedication be lip service or any less than 100%?  The word yujayasva which 
I have translated as "commit yourself" is from the dhatu yuj which is also 
the root of yoga.  What Krshna Bhagavan is teaching is not just karma but 
karma yoga. It is much more than merely passing time.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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