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Karmavada – Moksha Through Selfless Work In Hinduism

Moksha or liberation through selfless work is known as Karmavada in Hinduism. The word karma is derived from the root kr in Sanskrit, which means “to do”. Whatever is done is karma. In other words, every action is karma. Man has to do something every moment of his life. Nature does not allow him to remain idle. Therefore, it seems logical to spend one’s life doing some karma that is beneficial to the self in this or an afterlife. Hindus believe in rebirth after death, the soul’s advance depending on the merits acquired in one’s previous life.

The karma yoga of the Bhagavad Gita enjoins a man to do his duties without regard to the results thereof, rather than resorting to inaction.

In order to attain liberation from the cycles of birth and death, it is essential to get rid of the bondage of karmaphala, or the fruits of action. According to the Bhagavad Gita, karma or merits or demerits accumulated through performance of works, cannot be destroyed, but the bondage to it can be destroyed.

The cause of bondage is ignorance. Ignorance blinds a man to the results of his actions. The attachment and anxiety as regards certain results cause bondage. The paths of jnana, karma and bhakti lead to the release from bondage.

The renunciation of kartrtva bhava (the sense of doership) in actions is called jnana yoga. Absence of anxiety or the desire for a certain outcome to the actions while performing duties is the path of karma yoga. To surrender all actions to God and thus be released of anxiety and attachment regarding the result is bhakti yoga.

A question may arise – If the result is to be disregarded, then what is the use of doing any karma? The entire karma yoga preached in the Bhagavad Gita is the answer to this question.

The Bhagavad Gita states that a true aspirant performs his duties with samatvabuddhi – equanimity of thought and action – that is, he does not worry about the good or bad results of his actions. The aspirant is attached neither to the karma nor to the enjoyment of sense objects. At the same time he is not unwilling to act.

There are three kinds of karma – sanchita, kariyamana and prarabdha. Actions that are being done at present are kriyamana. Those kriyamana actions that have started producing results are called prarabdha. Those kriyamana actions that accumulate without producing results are called sanchita.

Sanchit karma (the remaining balance of the fruits of action) is the basis of prarabdha (fate in this life) is the basis of prarabdha (fate in this life) karma; if it does not bear fruit in this life, it becomes the prarabdha (fate) for another life. As long as sancita karmas (unspent balance of actions) remain, prarabdha karmas are also there. The moment sanchita karmas come to an end, prarabhda karmas also vanish. To get rid of sanchita and prarabdha karmas, it is essential to attain knowledge by kriyamana karmas (present actions). Thus present actions are actually the cause of what is called fate.