A request and a disclaimer: Before you begin to read this blog, request you to first read the blog titled ‘A curtain raiser to the blog series on karma yoga’ as this sets the context for this blog and the rest of the blogs and this series. For this blog series on karma yoga, I draw my learnings from the Bhagavad Gita Home Study book by Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati. The language and explanations used by Pujya swAmiji is so profound, that I wish I do justice by aligning my understanding to his explanation, as I parallelly try to relate it to day to day living. Any error in the way I have blogged upon these values, is due to an error in my understanding alone.

Clarity and a sense of being overwhelmed are independent of one another.. On one hand, when we are clear on the topic but possess less knowledge on the topic than we would like to, the sheer vastness of the topic lends an overwhelmingness; on the other hand, when we are ignorant on the topic or have an inadequate understanding, the depth of the topic makes us feel overwhelmed. The latter was what was my predicament when I started on this blog series. How will I find the answers to the questions that were raised in me as I wrote the blog on the curtain raiser to karma yoga, was one question that loomed large on my mind. Like they say ‘when the student is ready, the teacher appears’, in this case it was ‘when the seeker is ready, the answers start making their appearance’. A piece of art or a piece of writing starts with a dot, a sculptor begins to sculpt with the chisel at a certain point in a piece of wood or stone, a plant or a tree starts its beginnings in a seed..

The seed for karma yoga is ‘Taking pleasure or pain with equanimity, as though they are one and the same’. The pleasure may come from a gain, victory or success and the pain may come from a loss, defeat or failure.

If the questions raised in the curtain raiser were to be read now keeping in mind the ‘seed for karma yoga’, every question seems to be answered, again at a seed level :-).

  • What is karma yoga?
  • What does this lifestyle involve?
  • How do I live this lifestyle?
  • To live this lifestyle, what should I let go? (I can’t ask what I should I gain because I will gain self knowledge :-))
  • How will living the lifestyle of karma yoga help me gain self knowledge?

As I attempt to understand the ‘seed for karma yoga’, my mind looked at it as two halves and instantly a few questions and statements arose..

The first half – ‘Taking pleasure and pain with equanimity’

  • Is that possible at all?
  • Can pleasure and pain be looked at with equanimity because they trigger different emotions completely different from one another?
  • Being the human beings that we are with our own feelings and emotions, how do we take pleasure and pain in the same way?

As though to answer the questions was the second half – ‘as though they are one and the same’

  • Pleasure and pain are not the same and it depends on an individual to look at them as though the same
  • The term ‘as though’ also could mean that there is a chance for an individual to look at them differently
  • If it says ‘Take pleasure and pain with equanimity, as they are one and the same’, it does not give room for an individual to falter or err even once in their journey of looking at pleasure or pain with equanimity; which may then in the minds of individuals make karma yoga a lifestyle, that is extremely difficult to adopt and live. So an individual who is seeking mOkshA or a life free from afflictions has no other lifestyle to turn to than that of sanyAsa yoga; and not all of us are ready for a lifestyle of sanyAsa yoga.

The sense of overwhelmingness reduced ever so slightly giving my mind the space to see how the questions in the curtain raiser were answered. The seed for karma yoga – ‘Taking pleasure and pain with equanimity, as though they are one and the same’

  • Gives an indicator to what is karma yoga
  • In brief states that the lifestyle of karma yoga involves taking pleasure and pain as though they are one and the same; and on the need to live it in the same way
  • Shows a direction that to live this lifestyle, one needs to let go of the thought that pleasure and pain are as though different
  • Implicitly shows that when pleasure and pain are taken as though they are one and the same, there is less space for sorrow and more room for happiness; thus giving us the space to gain self knowledge

Sounds easy to do, isn’t it? Well, easier said than done :-).. What is the lifestyle to be adopted is clear but how should it be done? What are the steps one needs to take for a lifestyle of karma yoga? What is the process one needs to follow? All this and much more in the blogs to follow..