A request and a disclaimer: Before you begin to read this blog, request you to first read the blogs titled ‘A curtain raiser to the blog series on karma yoga, The seed for karma yoga and the other blogs in this series’ before you read this one, as this sets the context for this series on karma yoga. 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. To understand and introspect further on this topic, I have chosen the dialogue mode – between two of my favorite characters – MAnvi and her thAthA.. Both of them have aged by a few more years. MAnvi has grown far more deep and wide in her spiritual journey; MAnvi’s thAthA knows that his contribution is a catalyst in this journey of hers.

MAnvi: thAthA, if pleasure and pain need to be taken with equanimity, as though they are one and the same, can we first look at them in isolation?

thAthA: What do you mean by ‘in isolation’, MAnvi?

MAnvi: I mean, can we discuss about pleasure separately and pain separately, thAthA?

thAthA: Go ahead, MAnvi. I am sure you have a reason for doing it this way..

MAnvi: thAthA, to me rAgA (likes) are pleasures and dwEshA (dislikes) is pain. Let us look at rAgA first.. I really like the way rAgA is defined as.. It refers to ‘what we want to have, and what we have that we want to retain’. In either case, if we get what we want and we are able to retain what we have, it gives us pleasure..

thAthA: MAnvi, when we want to have something, it also means that we don’t have it at the moment isn’t it? In which case, doesn’t it create a longing?

MAnvi was taken aback because she always thought that the ‘want to have’ something, gave only a sense of pleasure.. Also, when one ‘wants to have’ something, one visualised having it and thereby derived pleasure from it.. She didn’t look at it as longing for something..

MAnvi: And that is not a nice feeling, isn’t it thAthA?

thAthA: MAnvi, every feeling or emotion is always healthy to have. It is only when the intensity of it increases and impedes the way we live our lives, it turns unhealthy. When the longing increases, one tends to act in a way that is not appropriate.

MAnvi: Why does rAgA talk about ‘wanting to have’ something and not ‘getting what we want’ thAthA?

thAthA: Because the ‘want’ is in our control but the ‘getting’ isn’t. 🙂

MAnvi: Oops!! Didn’t look at it that way!! thAthA, doesn’t retaining ‘what we have’ also create a sense of longing?

thAthA: Sure it does, MAnvi. We long to retain something or rather we long to retain the pleasure of having it.

MAnvi: thAthA, so other than the aspect of pleasure which maybe predominant, we are also left with a sense of longing.. So there is also a sense of inadequacy?

thAthA: Beautiful, MAnvi.. You are right.. Now do you see what I meant the other day, when I said that each one of us have every feeling and emotion in us? All it needs is a situation, to trigger it.. MAnvi, but remember, whether it is a feeling of loneliness or inadequacy, the predominant feeling most times is one of pleasure at ‘wanting to have’ something or retaining what we have.. So rAgA or pleasure:

  • is what we want to have
  • is what we have that we want to retain
  • leads to a sense of longing and inadequacy
  • makes people feel achievement, makes them to want to achieve
  • whether we want to have or we want to retain, both of them is at a thought level in our control..

MAnvi: So how is this connected to karma yoga, thAthA?

thAthA: We cannot connect it yet, MAnvi. We need to bring in the aspect of dwEshA, look at these two words together and then draw their connection to karma yoga.

MAnvi: thAthA, there is so much to just this one word ‘rAgA’. Now karma yoga doesn’t seem that easy..

thAthA: Actually MAnvi, the fact that you are looking at the different aspects of karma yoga in isolation, is sufficient enough to make it easy.. The road is now more clear for you to journey in..

MAnvi: thAthA, I never knew that dissecting one aspect would actually expand the aspect.. This is so beautiful, thAthA.. It is like seeing pieces of a jigsaw puzzle separated and laid out in front of me.. I am aware that I have more pieces to be laid in front of me.. So I can see each of them in isolation and then assemble them together to see the actual picture..

MAnvi’s thAthA had always dissected topics for her to understand easily. He never thought that the day would arrive soon, when he would see her implementing what she was taught..