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Karma yoga - An introduction

Different yogas, different temperaments

Perhaps many are not familiar with the different paths yoga can take. These paths are known to be in accordance and to depend upon different temperaments of spiritual aspirants. When it comes to karma yoga, there are numerous characteristics one should be acquaint with well prior to taking it up seriously.

Road to purification

As put forth by the title, this variety of yoga is regarded as the one that leads to a complete and utter purification of the person who practices it. Due to the spiritual ignorance that we are all characterized by at the beginning of our lives, we tend to be all too easily affected by such undesirable traits as egoism and selfishness. When people operate in their normal state of being, their consciousness and everything they do are rooted in and lead by selfishness. And the more these individual actions get accomplished, the more initial selfishness and also ignorance rise and ring about our bondage.

What practicing this specific variety of yoga enables a person is to free him/herself from that undesirable and destructive selfishness, and get inside the realm of selflessness by way of doing things without investing any expectations of rewards for his/her effort. Given the fact that our accomplishments are rewarded in different ways such as a material compensation, public recognition, secondary perks, indebtedness etc., the purpose of karma yoga is to “observe” the mind so a person could see for themselves whether some unordinary feelings, such as elation or disappointment, will emerge once confronted with the above mentioned. This can be attained by way of various different bhavas.

Also, one is allowed to combine karma and bhakti by performing all actions, as an expression of one’s love for the Lord. Regarded as one of the modern yogi masters was also Mother Teresa, who referred to her doings as love in action. And this can be regarded as one of the integral parts of the old saying in yoga – work is worship.

In addition, yogi has at disposal the sakshi bhava of jnana yoga, i.e. the sensation of being a silent witness of actions. This presupposes that yogi is utterly and completely disconnected from the play of maya, as well as from all the functions of the instruments – known as the karma indriyas or sense organs of action.

Given the fact that many tend to be somewhat perplexed by the above said, important to know is that even the regular work that one performs, including household chores, are regarded as karma yoga. Furthermore, any contribution that one can make to his community also falls inside the boundaries of karma yoga. 

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