(Source: 1947_Shri Shankaracharya Vaaksudha, p 82-85/2017 Guru Dev Legacy Trust)
“How to become a karma yogi” and “Key to yogic success” these two discourses are the gist of the preaching given by Sri Charan in one day at Prayag. Here, according to Veda’s karma (action) section, upasana (spiritual practices) section and gyan (knowledge) section, there is a short reflection on yoga and special focus has been given on karma yoga. And here is the path of enlightenment to get success in the path of yoga for practitioners.
According to the karma section of Veda perfection through action is only known as yoga. The last objective of karma section is to act without desires which means to act without thinking of the end result; therefore ‘nishkaam karma’ (action without desire) is only ‘karmasu koushal’; this is only ‘anashakti karma’ (action with detachment) and this is only known as ‘karma yoga’. While doing action and remaining free from the bondage of it, is its real nature and anyone who has attained this state is called a karma yogi.
By stating the method of karma yoga, Bhagvan Sri Krishna says:
Yat karoshi yat ashnasi yat juhyoshi dadasi yat I
Yat tapasyasi kaunteya tat kurusva mad arpanam II Gita 9:27
Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer in sacrifice, whatever you gift away, whatever austerities you practice, O Kaunteya, do it as an offering to me.
The significance of this is whatever auspicious acts we do, they should be dedicated to Bhagvan. There is no custom of dedicating inauspicious acts to Bhagvan. When Bhagvan says dedicate all acts to me, then he expects that no one will do any inauspicious act to dedicate him; because this is very common thing that we always dedicate good things to elders and venerable people. Before dedicating it is checked for its goodness. No one does like this that whatsoever - even it is bad - dedicate that only. When a drunkard also offers food to a sadhu mahatma, then he never gives alcohol to him. He knows that this is prohibited stuff. He dedicates whatever is proper. When a drunkard also while dedicating takes care of this then how one devotee can do prohibited act to dedicate it to his omnipresent Paramatma?
When someone asks something - fruits, green leafy vegetables etc - to somebody, then he definitely expects to get good thing, no one thinks of getting rotten fruits and dry leafy vegetables.
In the same way when Bhagvan gives order that ‘Yat karoshi yat ashnasi …mad arpanam’ then he expects that human being will dedicate him auspicious act and will hesitate to dedicate inauspicious act; hence will not do inauspicious act. The meaning of auspicious act is to boost the satvik (good) thoughts, doing acts according to the order of Bhagvan and determined by Veda shastra.
The meaning of ‘Yat karoshi’ is ‘Yatkarma karoshi’ i.e. the good acts we are doing and not ‘Yatkukarma karoshi’ (not the bad acts we are doing) and work differs according to place, time and for whom we are doing the work whose knowledge we get from shastra; because Bhagvan says
“Gyatwa shastra – vidhan - uktam karma kartum – iha - aharsi”
// Gita 16:24
Having known what is said in the ordinance of the scriptures, you should act here.
Which means we should do acts according to the customs mentioned in shastra; therefore the meaning of ‘Yatkarma karoshi’ is ‘Yacchastravihit karma karoshi’ (whatever act you are doing, do according to shastra).
From this it is quite evident that the meaning of ‘Yat karoshi yat ashnasi …mad arpanam’ is whatever you do, do with the knowledge of Bhagvan – according to the customs mentioned in shastra and without having attachment with the end result, dedicate it to Bhagvan; because -
brahmany adhaya karmani sangam tyaktva karoti yah
lipyate na sa papena padma-patram ivambhasa. // Gita 5:10
One who performs his duty without attachment, surrendering the results unto the Supreme, is not affected by sinful action, as the lotus leaf is untouched by water.
And like this-
yuktah karma - phalam tyaktva santim apnoti naisthikim // Gita 5:12
The steadily devoted soul attains unadulterated peace because he offers the result of all activities to me.
And also told that-
Shubh – ashubh – phalei - evam mokshyase karma - bandhaneiha
// Gita 9:28
Thus shall you be free from the bondage of actions yielding good and bad results.
Like this, a devoted karma yogi doing deeds for the satisfaction of Bhagvan gets free from the unfailing bondage of the result of his both auspicious and inauspicious actions.
Like this by showing the customs and consequences of karma yoga Bhagvan clearly says that-
Sarva karmany api sada kurvano mad vyapasrayah
mat prasadad avapnoti sasvatam padam avyayam // Gita 18:56
Though engaged in all kinds of activities, My devotee, under My protection, reaches the eternal and imperishable abode by My grace.
This is a promise of Bhagvan for a karma yogi.
Try to become a karma yogi believing the promise of the omnipotent, the supreme father - Bhagvan. For this what is to be done is that a person belonging to any particular varna (caste) or ashrama (stages of life) should act which is favourable to it and according to his rights. Should do work which is worthy to be done deciding as mentioned in shastras and should dedicate them to Bhagvan with reason. By dissolving the egoistic thinking of the doer of all work, a divine thought should spread in place of the desire for the result of action. This is the process of karma yoga without desire or attachment. And the one who is skilled in this and is a successful devotee is known as a karma yogi.
To understand the internal mentality of a karma yogi the sloka of Shiva Manas Puja (worshipping Lord Shiva in mind) is very beautiful:
Yad-Yat-Karma Karomi Tat-Tad-Akhilam Shambho Tava-Araadhanam || Shiva Manas Puja 4.4
Whatever work I do, all that is Your araadhana (Worship), O Shambhu.
Like this with the flowers of swakarma (own duty), a karma yogi finds Bhagvan by always doing his best worship.