Swami Bhoomananda Tirthaji begins this segment by declaring unequivocally, that “Activity is the rule of life and living”, thereby shattering the misconception that spirituality is meant to be pursued after retirement.
How can one achieve fruition of sānkhya yoga (yoga of Self-Knowledge) while remaining intensively active? Sri Krishna’s answer comes in one of the defining shlokas of the Bhagavad Gita, 2.48:
योगस्थ: कुरु कर्माणि सङ्गं त्यक्त्वा धनञ्जय |
सिद्ध्यसिद्ध्यो: समो भूत्वा समत्वं योग उच्यते ||
yoga-sthaḥ kuru karmāṇi saṅgaṁ tyaktvā dhanañjaya
siddhy-asiddhyoḥ samo bhūtvā samatvaṁ yoga uchyate
Be steadfast in the performance of your duty, O Arjuna, abandoning attachment to success and failure. Such equanimity is called Yoga.
Everything about yoga is encapsulated in this one verse. Samatvam yoga uchyate – the definition of yoga is samatva (equanimity).
How do we remain active? Yogasthah kuru karmani– by performing all actions seated in yoga. Remaining oriented in yoga, perform all acts without exception
And what is the yoga that we are to be seated in? Saṅgaṁ tyaktvā dhanañjaya – abandonment of sanga. Sanga is the delusional clinging to that results in thinking “the objective result will make me happy…”
Swamiji cites the example of King Dasharatha to illustrate our foolishness. After performing the Ashvameda yāgā, the king was blessed with 4 splendid sons, bestowing supreme delight. However when his best son Rama behaved in an exemplary manner leaving for the forest, the king could not bear it. This led to his demise. The beautiful fruition had led to grief. This is the fate of the world for everybody, says Swamiji.
Swamiji exhorts us to think very clearly. Instead of doing a work keeping “borrowed eyes” on the result, be indifferent, but perform very well. Completion of effort naturally means begetting the result. No thought or anxiety is required.
Swamiji dins a very great secret into our heads – it is only when we are able to detect sanga and abandon it effectively, that we are truly performing karma yoga. The process of abandoning is purely an inner, mento-intellectual, Knowledge process, and has nothing to do with the body.
Siddhy-asiddhyoḥ samo bhūtvā – every karma will normally result in the desired fruition, but possibilities are there for partial or non-fruition as well. We simply must be prepared in our mind for the adverse result. The mind which can be at home with any of the three outcomes has reached the elevated state of yoga.
Swamiji urges us to understand that whenever the mind is partial, struggling or stifled by thought of a result, we have sanga. The practice, therefore, is to find out if the mind is equal or not. If we find it unequal, that very process itself will reduce the unequalness, and install equanimity.
Karma yoga applies only in the mind. It is a practice we can adopt and pursue throughout the day as long as we are active, irrespective of the type of activity.
Even sage Vasishtha had said that the emperor of a human whose buddhi is ornamented by samattva, is sought after by even the greatest of sages.
Those whose minds are established in sāmya, are established in Brahman, as Sri Krishna says in verse 5.19:
इहैव तैर्जित: सर्गो येषां साम्ये स्थितं मन: |
निर्दोषं हि समं ब्रह्म तस्माद् ब्रह्मणि ते स्थिता: ||
ihaiva tair jitaḥ sargo yeṣhāṁ sāmye sthitaṁ manaḥ
nirdoṣhaṁ hi samaṁ brahma tasmād brahmaṇi te sthitāḥ
Those whose minds are established in equality of vision conquer the cycle of birth and death in this very life. They possess the flawless qualities of God, and are therefore seated in the Absolute Truth.
Ultimately, objective results are not to be tampered with at all. Swamiji gives the example of a pregnant lady delivering a child – delivery is not different from pregnancy, they are only different names for the same growth. No fetus is supposed to grow and remain in uterus! The result of any karma is the commencement of a new activity. Therefore, there is really nothing like a result, only work in progress.
Swamiji concludes this illuminating segment by reminding us that equanimity in reference to likes and dislikes, and fruition and non-fruition of activity, is no different . Every activity gives sufficient scope and compulsion to practice karma yoga, and our mere breathing gives scope to practice samatva towards sukha and duhkha.