Yoga karmasu kaushalam. This is a message from the
Geeta – Chapter 2.50. And this is perhaps one of the most valuable and
practical messages given by anyone to mankind. Its plain meaning is:
yoga is ‘skill in performing any action / task.’ Skill could mean
excellence and total immersion in the work at hand. Skill also means
being detached from the fruit of action while being completely involved
in the work at hand. In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson – The reward of
a thing well done is to have done it. Krishna propagates three kinds of
yogas to achieve salvation – Dnyana (knowledge), Bhakti (devotion) and
Karma (work). Yoga literally means being in communion, for it comes from
the word Yuj.
great personalities were inspired by this message. Lokmanya Tilak, one
of the early freedom fighters, gave stress to ‘Karma’ i.e. action. In
our fight for independence this was necessary. The entire verse is even
more poignant. It reads thus – One who is equipped with equanimity in
this life discards both merit and sin. Therefore, remain established in
yoga; yoga results in perfect action.
says that the Chaturvarnas (four categories) in the society were
created by HIM based on the qualities and nature of activity of an
individual. Hence, Brahmanas were concerned with knowledge; Kshatriyas
with security, governance and war; Vaishyas with trade and industry; and
Shudras with the remaining services. In Indian scriptures, we have
references that two brothers could belong to different professions or
‘Varnas’. Therefore, ‘varnas’ were not attached to birth but to the
predisposition of each individual. Interestingly, Krishna Himself
performed all these functions Himself at once:
when giving knowledge to Arjuna, He was Brahmana,
killing demons like Kans and Shishupal, He was a Kshatriya or warrior,
trading in dairy products in Mathura, Krishna was a Vaishya; and
as charioteer (sarathi) of Arjuna, He maintained horses – the work of shudras.
role that He performed, He performed it with dexterity. At the same
time, He was completely detached from the fruit of His action. This is
the lesson to be learnt from these words of counsel.
the end of the Geeta, Krishna tells Arjuna that he has the liberty of
choosing his course of action. This implies that once a person has
grasped the full purport of equanimity, he is endowed with the
capability to make right choices.