Kriya, Karma and Karmayoga
When one thinks of the words of Kriya, Karma and Karma Yoga one immediately thinks of Bhagavad Gita only. Nowhere does one find Karma Yoga so thoroughly analysed and explained as in the Gita. Any student of Sanatana Dharma (Hinduism) will want to know the real meaning of these terms.
Before proceeding we need to know about the Prakruti or nature. Prakruti is defined as the combination of Kriya and Jata (or matter). These both have a beginning and an end. For example, the changes that happen in our bodies are kriyas . The material body is the matter.
What is Karma ? Karma happens when there is an ‘ownership’ to a Kriya. In a person’s life many kriyas are continuously happening. But, the moment that person feels that they are his deeds, ‘Karma’ is born. Here the ‘person’ is the ‘Chetana- the Self’ who is the very source who illumines the body (which is made up of Kriya and matter).
River Ganga flows on her own and irrigates the land wherever she goes. This flow is a ‘Kriya’. Whether she destroys are irrigates, there is no Papa (sin) or Punya attached to its flow.
A person’s body grows from childhood to Youth and untimately to old age. This process is a ‘Kriya’. But when he thinks that ‘he’ is getting old and changing, that moment a ‘Karma’ is born. Karma is the marriage of the Self and the Kriya. To put it simply, the ‘I’ feeling in a ‘Kriya’ leads to a Karma. This is called the eternal bondage of the Self and Nature.
The Ahankara or ‘I- feeling’ is the source of all bondage. Because of this bondage , man forgot the real immense power inside him and came to identify himself with his body (and mind and intellect) which are a part of the nature. 'yagnyArthat karmano(a)nyatra loko(a)yam karma bandhana:' ( Gita 3-9)
In this context, how shall we define Yoga ? Well, yoga is that process that strives to release the self from its bondage to the nature.
When this process is focused on the actions going on in this world and helps man to get a release from these actions, it is called as karma Yoga. Karma is bondage. Yoga is release. Karma is centred on this world. Yoga is centred on 'Self' or God.
Krishna says that man can never be without doing Karma (Gita 3-5). Even when he thinks he is idle and still. His body is changing per second, his mind is rushing into every possible direction. His intellect is also continuously analysing every thought. The wise distances these kriyas as that of the nature. He has realized that his real 'Self' is untouched by these kriyas.
But , is there a message in all this for a common man ? There is. Only as long as the 'I' feeling remains in oneself, he will be bound to the world. The way to release from this is simple. First, he has divert all his karmas towards the welfare of the world at large. This is the first step. Here, the 'I' feeling is blunted. This leads to real Karmayoga. Karmayoga in turn destroys the bondage of the Self -' yagnyAcharata: karma samagram pravileeyate' (Gita 4-23). And finally the man realizes his eternal relation with ParamAtman.
Karma yoga is one of the four Royal paths of realization as expounded in the Gita. Karma Yoga is a speciality of Sanatana Dharma and every modern Management exponent finds in it the ideal tool for defining work and result.
Karma Yoga affirms emphatically that man has no right over the fruits of his actions. It is only in working that he has the right. This is being confirmed by almost every management guru now. Stephen R Covey, (of 7 habits of highly successful prople) writes this : " There is nothing such as success and failure, There are only results".
Krishna goes further saying that the 'I' feeling and the resultant expectation of the outcome of karma is what binds man to the world more and more. The only way out , therefore, is doing your duty regardless of the outcome. Even better, do it for others' sake. Still better, dedicate the whole work in the feet of the Lord.