Sometimes the word karma is used in lieu of kriya (Physical performance of a deed). Kriyas are activities that take place automatically; here the doership does not lie with the individual. For example, breathing or rushing to rescue a falling child.
This word has originated from the root krut, meaning ‘to do’. Roughly, kruti can be defined as any activity performed consciously.
A. Kruti and movement
The motion of a single muscle is kruti; whereas, the motion of several muscles together is movement. This implies that the collective effect of krutis is movement.
The combined effect of a series of krutis is termed as karya. For example, the karya of eating includes different krutis such as picking up a morsel of food in the hand, putting it into the mouth, chewing it, swallowing it, etc.
B. Reason for a karya
कारणेन विना कार्यं न कदाचन विद्यते ।
– Yogashikhopnishad, Shloka 37
Meaning : A karya without a reason is impossible.
C. Factors essential for the successful completion of a karya and their importance
- According to Karmayoga
According to Shrimadbhagwadgeeta
अधिष्ठानं तथा कर्ता करणं च पृथग्विधम् ।
विविधाश्च पृथक् चेष्टा दैवं चै वात्र पञ्चमम् ॥
– Shrimadbhagwadgeeta, Adhyaya 18, Shloka 14
Meaning : (Mentioned ahead are the five factors operating towards the accomplishment of tasks.)The venue of the karma (that is the body), the doer, various senses, their different functions, and the presiding divinity, the ﬁfth of these.
Explanation : The factors essential for successful accomplishment of a task are as mentioned ahead
Adhishthan (Foundation or support) : It is of two types –
Gross : Suppose the ground has to be dug, then to complete the task, the foundation or the mainstay in the form of mud is essential. On this foundation of mud, the doer performs the karma of striking with a pickaxe, which is the tool.
Subtle : The resolve of the mind is the very foundation of every task. The ﬁrmer the resolve, better are the chances of completing the task undertaken.
The doer : The capability of the doer, meaning the ability to take the task to completion.
Karan : Tools required for the successful completion of a task
Karma : Practical kruti
Luck (Prarabdha, meaning fate) : There is a difference between luck and other things. Luck helps in making a task a success or a failure. If luck is favourable, it helps in making the task successful; however, if unfavourable, it renders the task unsuccessful.
The importance of the above-mentioned ﬁve factors can be realized from the following example.
Adhishthan : Suppose a student wishes to get through his post-graduation examination. The will to get through in the examination along with the resolve, is the adhishthan. Intensity of the will and ﬁrmness of the resolve are the deciding factors; or else midway through academics one could get married, get involved in family life and neglect studies. Should such a thing happen, the examination will take a backseat.
Karta (Doer) : The student’s (Karta’s) capability (meaning his/her intelligence) and ability to grasp are important too. If a student is mentally challenged or if he/she does not have the perseverance to study, then, however strong a wish he/she might have, passing the examinations will remain a distant possibility.
Karan : The text books required for the studies, the opportunity to get practical experience complementary to the chosen subject for the examination and the guides are the factors that fall in this category.
Karma : Study of text books and as supplement to this study, discussion about the experiences gained with fellow students and expert guides.
Daiva (Prarabdha or luck) : A student failing due to the shortfall in even one from among adhishthan, karta, karan and karma is understandable; but sometimes there is absolutely no shortcoming whatsoever in any of the four factors and yet the student fails. We then say that luck or Prarabdha is the cause.
Sometimes when the luck is favourable, a student with average intelligence and one who has not put in extraordinary efforts gets excellent results; whereas, if the luck is bad, then a student who has studied a lot and who is very intelligent can also fail.
The amazing fact is that from among the factors required for the total success of the karya, the factor with maximum importance is destiny and it carries about 65% importance.
4. Destiny and efforts are both equally important
A. Learning about the luck factor
Even an intelligent person will ﬁnd it difficult to perceive by reasoning, whether his luck is favourable or not for the success of a task. In this context, paths mentioned ahead are likely to be successful.
Consulting Saints who are endowed with the supernatural power of knowing the future, or spiritually evolved seekers.
B. Importance of the ‘right time’
अकाले कृत्यमारब्धं कतु र्र्नार्थाय कल्पते ।
तदेव काले आरब्धं महतेऽर्थाय कल्पते ॥
– Mahabharat, Shantiparva, Adhyaya 138, Shloka 95
Meaning : Commencing a task at any odd time does not fulﬁl the intent of the doer. However, if the same is done at an appropriate time, it is highly beneﬁcial.
C. कालवित् कार्यं साधयेत् ।
– Chanakyasutra, Adhyaya 2, Sutra 15
Meaning : Only he, who can judge the appropriate time, can accomplish his task.
D. Examples of revolutionaries Vasudev Balwant Phadke and
Maharshi Aurobindo, explain the importance of timing in carrying out a task
The foremost revolutionary of Bharat’s freedom struggle, Vasudev Balwant Phadke : Vasudev Balwant Phadke is foremost amongst those who attempted to revolt against the British rule .Prior to the execution of his own ideas about raising a revolt against the British rule, he had visited evolved men such as Shri Akkalkot Swami, Shri Nrusinh Saraswati, Shri Manikprabhu and Shri Kalbuva; however, none supported his ideas, simply because the time was not right. Yet, Vasudev Balwant Phadke strongly felt that, ‘however strong be the level of preparedness, yet the revolution must have Divine blessings’. As a ﬁnal attempt, he went to meet Shri Maharaj at Gondavale in Maharashtra. The following conversation ensued. He said to Maharaja, “I have made all arrangements. Even my men are ready. You are akin to Saint Ramdas (Guru of the great Maratha king, Shivaji Maharaj). I will play the role of Shivaji. Please help me”. To this Shri Maharaj replied, “Oh no! Neither am I Ramdas nor can you be Shivaji. The (present) time is not favourable. Do not waste your energy. Continue to worship God so that your activity gains strength. The appropriate time is yet to come”. Vasudev Balwant was infuriated by these words and took leave of His Holiness right away. Shortly thereafter, he raised the banner of revolt, and in no time became very famous. Finally, the British Government treacherously arrested and prosecuted him. Four years later, he died in a prison in Aden.
The modern revolutionary Aurobindo : Around the same time, a Saint from Baroda, Shri Vishnu Bhasker Lele said to Aurobindo, “Bharat will get freedom in 1947. You are not required to do anything. Perform spiritual practice and be guided by God”. Aurobindo immediately abandoned the path of revolution and began spiritual practice. He later became Maharshi Aurobindo and established a grand Ashram at Pondicherry in Bharat.
5. Importance of the place and time
A. Efforts and God’s grace
Sometimes, no matter how hard a person tries, yet he does not succeed. At such times be assured that the person’s prarabdha is severe. However, if the person putting in efforts is a devotee then, because the efforts are backed by spiritual practice, he gets Divine help and the efforts are rewarded with success. Therefore, Samarth Ramdas Swami has said, “One might have a strong cause and the capabilities to support the cause; yet success is possible only with divinity for foundation”. Accordingly, we should have faith in God and keep trying while performing every karma.
B. While performing karma, having an attitude of ‘performing karma assigned by God’ is important
It is obvious that some incidents in life will be distressful; however, there are times when things happen as per our wishes, yet we may not derive the expected pleasure or satisfaction. The solution to such a situation is performing the tasks with the bhav that, “I do not perform the karmas. It is the service unto God that I render through the karmas that have come rightfully to me as my share, with the energy and intellect that He has given me”. Having such an attitude and performing karma while chanting God’s Name will give us peace, contentment, love and Anand. Anand is derived from every karma performed by the Saints. The attitude is the key. When the mind is content, the tasks performed by that mind also impart contentment.
6. Reason for the harm to karma (Activity)
The lack of knowledge that desire and ambition cause harm is ignorance. It increases desire and ambition, and harms karma. Therefore, do not be ignorant about any subject.
Desire is the feeling of individual superiority. For example, when an individual expresses his dislike for the food that someone else likes, it generates hatred in him which eventually gets transformed into an action of dislike. Desire generates bias for food, dress and a whole lot of other biases.
With the growing of an individual or a family the needs multiply. They also increase due to ignorance and lack of direction. The attitude of remaining dissatisﬁed with what one gets is ambition.
D. Some reasons for ignorance
- Fear about a subject, for example, fear of a particular religious group.
- Obstacles associated with replication of subjects.
- Accepting opinions of those who have understood a subject partially.
Reference : Sanatan Sanstha’s Holy text ‘Importance, characteristics and types of karma’.