Welcome to the Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where twelve of us write on the same topic. Today’s topic has been chosen by Grannymar. The eleven other bloggers who write regularly are, in alphabetical order, Conrad, Delirious, gaelikaa, Grannymar, Magpie, Maria SF, ocdwriter, Padmum, Paul, Rohit and Will. Do drop in on their blogs and see what their take is on this week’s topic. Since some of them may post late, do give some allowance for that too!
कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन।
मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते संगोऽस्त्वकर्मणि॥
“Karmanyevadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kadachana,
Ma Karmaphalheturbhurma Tthey Sangostv-akarmani”
“You have a right to perform your prescribed duty, but you are not entitled to the fruits of action। Never consider yourself the cause of the results of your activities, and never be attached to not doing your duty.”
~ Bhagwath Geetha. Ch II V 47.
In the Indian Dharmic way of life, this verse is one of the most often quoted direction to lead a fruitful and contented life. This aphorism summarises, one of the three paths, Karma Yoga to liberation. The other two are Bhakti Yoga and Gnyana Yoga.
People are of three predominant types; the emotional, the active and the studious/reflective. Bhakti Yoga, or unity through devotion and surrender to the divine, is prescribed for the emotional types and Gnyana Yoga, or unity through knowledge of the non duality of reality to the intellectual type. Each path can be elaborated, but for this post, I shall restrict myself to the path to reach unity through uninterested action.
In the shloka, the key word is “prescribed duty”. One must understand something else that is often misunderstood. In this shloka, Krishna addresses Arjuna to do his prescribed duty as a Kshatriya. Kshatriyas were the warrior class whose duty was to protect the other classes and dharma. By default and power plays, this classification became hereditary and much of the inequity of the system now seen in India arose out of this hereditary classification.
The original interpretation was that people had some inherent characterestics which were to be encouraged to optimise a joyful life. If one was inclined to acquiring knowledge, he was encouraged to be one and if one wanted to pursue accumulation of wealth, he was too.
In modern times, the hereditary varna system has lost all its power with Brahmins becoming soldiers and Kshatriyas becoming scholars and both becoming businessmen. Many such crossovers now take place and the disinterested action to perform one’s prescribed duty is to do what one’s natural inclination to do, in a way that brings about a joyful way of living. This presupposes that one does not really have a guarantee over the outcome of any action. The outcome can be exactly what is expected, opposite of what is expected, more or less than what is expected or completely different to what is expected. One is urged to accept that one of these possible outcomes is a possibility and whatever comes, one accepts as the natural order of things and not get overjoyed or depressed with the outcome.
The aphorism also advises that because the outcome is not entirely in one’s hands, one should not desist from taking action. This is to prevent the drop out phenomenon. I suppose that even during the days of the Mahabharata, drop outs, beatniks and hippies existed!
In short, one should live spontaneously and accept whatever comes one’s way as the natural order of things and get on with the next project. What comes is due to the karmic influences of action/reaction paradigm and most of which is unknown to us. If one is so inclined, it can be attributed to divine grace or retribution depending on its impact and accept it as such.
A guaranteed way to live a life of bliss. Difficult but with sincere and conscious approach, possible.