Karma Yoga is a higher facet of the yogic practice that one must reach for once they have mastered the basic forms of yoga and can claim that they have attained mastery over their body, senses and their mind. This form of yoga is practiced for higher spiritual fulfillment.
What is karma?
The word karma in Sanskrit refers both to “action” as well as the “consequence of actions”. In its basic form, the word refers to our actions as we consciously perform them. In Hindu philosophy, a lot of emphasis is placed on conscious action as it is believed that the intention with which an action is performed determines whether a person would receive good or bad spiritual results from it.
What is karma yoga?
Karma yoga can be understood as a form of yogic practice where one consciously does good deeds for others without expecting praise or reward in return. Karma yoga thus places high emphasis on altruism and selfless service as a way to attain a higher form of self-attainment.
Origin of Karma Yoga
Many believe that Karma Yoga had been a big part of Hindu culture since time immemorial though it first finds mention in the mythological epic Bhagavad Gita. The Gita is basically a dialogue between Lord Krishna and Pandav prince Arjun in which the latter finds himself conflicted about having to kill his own kinsmen in the Mahabharata War.
Lord Krishna soothes Arjun’s doubts and sorrows by explaining the nature of humankind and the rules of engagement that befit a warrior prince etc. Among the many pearls of wisdom that Lord Krishna imparts to Arjun include a few lines that can roughly be understood as “you must act without being too attached to the fruits of your deeds”.
The Bhagavad Gita further mentions that yoga is “skill in karma” which means that a person must act and must do so with purity of intent. Karma yoga also emphasizes the need for skill in one’s action which means that one must first conquer their baser urges and then try to practice karma yoga to get its full benefits.