Intro to Karma Yoga: Making Each Action Clean Your Mind & Sharpen the Intellect (20)

Intro to Karma Yoga: Making Each Action Clean Your Mind & Sharpen the Intellect (20)


Session 20 begins with Kṛṣṇa introducing Arjuna (you) the path of being a Karma Yogi. A spirit of sacrifice built at time of creation. When lived, it produces consistent life success in all areas – ultimately leading one to liberation (freedom). When avoided, life is tied with sorrow, failure and disappointment; a wasted human life


  1. Action vs Knowledge for liberation/mokṣa.

    Why is there no contradiction between (1) Path of Action; Karma Yoga, and (2) Path of Knowledge; Jñāna Yoga?

    Think about it before going to answer below.

    Answer: Because they're applicable depending on one's temperament, or stage of spiritual pursuit.

    As general distinction, we can put spiritual seekers/finders in 2 categories:

    (1) Active types who're into “Give me something to DO!“.

    All about techniques, movement, pilgrimages, exploring consciousness, plant journeys, discipline, ashrams, being of service, saving the world, meditation, Kriyā Yoga, Rāja Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, etc.

    Their mind/personality is dominantly EXTROVERTED. This accounts for 99% of spiritual world today.

    These practices are perfect ANSWER to status of world in Kali Yuga: Agitated/Rājasic-dominant mind.

    (2) Types into Śruti (scriptures).

    Knowledge oriented types. Less agitated (more Sāttvic) minds.

    You may not know any in this category, as most are introverted, absorbed in learning, studies, contemplation, thinking.

    Their mind/personality is dominantly INTROVERTED.

    * Above is only a generalization. Don't take as final.

    About 4 Yoga Paths:

    The word ‘yoga’ comes from the root ‘yuj’, which means ‘to join’, ‘to yoke’. So, yoga means the joining of the ego to the supreme Self—yoking the lower with the higher Consciousness.

    While the total merger is the final fulfilment of yoga, even the techniques which promote one’s progress towards this Realization of the Supreme are also called yoga.

    In Hinduism, there are four yogas or paths leading to the ultimate goal. They are:

    (1) Bhakti-yoga—the path of devotion
    (2) Jñāna-yoga—the path of knowledge
    (3) Karma-yoga—the path of action
    (4) Rāja-yoga—the path of mysticism

    Even though the techniques are different, the goal reached by all these paths is one and the same.

    All these techniques are based upon the theory of inner integration through self-purification. In the rules of life laid down for the practitioner there is uniformity in all these four paths.

    The differences in the paths provide a choice to accommodate the different temperaments and different types of individuals for their self-evolution.

    The diversity of temperaments in individuals is the result of the varying textures of their minds and intellects. Depending upon this variation the entire humanity may be divided into three categories:

    (1) The emotional — those whose mind (heart) is relatively more developed than their intellect (head).

    (2) The intellectual — those whose head is relatively more developed than their heart.

    (3) The active — those who are active in temperament and whose head and heart are moderately developed.

    This classification is based upon the comparative emotional and rational traits in human beings. No human being can be said to be entirely intellectual or purely emotional.

    This being so, a religion which does not cater to all the categories of individuals will be incomplete and ineffectual to serve as a universal religion.

    Hinduism is thus truly universal in its application, adaptability, and appeal. It caters to the needs of all types of human beings by presenting a clear and distinct path for each.

    Hinduism prescribes the path of devotion (bhakti-yoga) to the emotional class of persons; the path of knowledge (jñāna-yoga) to the intellectual; and the path of action (karma-yoga) to the active.

    In the path of devotion (bhakti-yoga), the devotee pours out his or her devotion to the chosen ideal at the altar. The mind is constantly made to revel in the form, glory, and divine nature of the beloved Lord of one’s heart.

    In direct proportion to its intensity, devotion becomes single-pointed with one constant unbroken thought. At that stage of single-pointed integration, the devotee experiences the Lord everywhere. In other ecstatic experience there are only two aspects, namely, oneself and the Lord.

    This devotion-fired intensity gradually culminates in a Self-enquiry when the devotee turns inward to realize that one’s own essence, the Self, is nothing but the Lord Himself.

    To a human being of intellect, this method is of little avail, as he does not have a heart to melt and flow out in a continuous stream of love for a Lord with a form and name.

    The intellect, as it were, clogs the free flow of love in the heart. Such a seeker is given the essence of reasoning that could remove all doubts and confusion.

    Fortified with such knowledge, the seeker moves steadily towards the Truth, discarding the lower animal passions and egocentric values of a renegade sensual life. By understanding the imperfections and

    false glitter of the sense objects, the seeker gradually overcomes the desires for sense acquisition and enjoyment.

    With this inner integration, he reaches the portals of philosophy and contemplates intensely and continuously upon the logic and reasoning behind the Upaniṣadic dictums.

    He then begins to discriminate between the Permanent and the impermanent, the Real and the unreal, the Transcendental and the terrestrial world of experiences.

    When he is thus absorbed in such contemplation he glides into intense meditation, the mind melts into nothingness leaving him in the transcendental experience of the Supreme. (NOTE: Don't take this sentence as kind of extraordinary experience as often portrayed. It's just like skill of driving the car and the car driver – become ONE. Nothing special nor mystical about it afterall.)

    The third variety caters for a large proportion of human beings who temperamentally vacillate between their head and heart—ruled by the senses, at one moment they are perceptibly emotional and, at the next moment, acutely rational.

    To such seekers of a ‘mixed’ temperament, karma-yoga, the path of action is advised. Karma-yoga, in fact, is a happy blend of the emotional joys of devotion and the intellectual thrills of Vedānta.

    When actions are dedicated to a higher altar and performed without either ego or any egocentric desires, such a spiritual practice is called karma-yoga.

    Rāja-yoga comprises a highly evolved scheme of exercises popularly known as āsana and prāṇāyāma.

    Through these exercises, the food and vital-air sheaths are so tuned that the inner equipments—the mind and intellect—become integrated. Thus, mental purification, regulation of desires and a final integration of all thoughts are achieved.

    Human beings have all the temperaments enumerated above, and are a composite personality though they may predominantly belong to one or other of them.

    This being so, it is desirable that every seeker practises all these yogas, in proportion to the influence of different types of their inner temperament.

    The practice of these yogas helps to withdraw the mind from its preoccupations with the sense objects of the world. This condition of mental withdrawal is called ‘uparati’. When one gains uparati, one becomes prepared and fit for reaching the final abode of Truth.

    Thereafter, one needs to practise concentration (dhāraṇa) and meditation (dhyāna).

    On the path of evolution, meditation (in light of what's been learned by teacher/teaching) is the final gateway through which every seeker must pass to firmly establish one's Self-Knowledge as Ātman. (This means: Not confusing the variable as the invariable).

  2. Why it's impossible to avoid action. (No point running away from world)

    Because (1) 3 gunas are causing all body-minds, entire universe to be in motion (2) Even “avoiding action” is another action.  😉

    Thus continue acting, in light of Karma Yoga spirit (sacrifice of giving/offering back). “What can I GIVE?“, instead of “What can I GET?“.

  3. Revision: What is our motivation for chasing objects?

    Please contemplate before going to answer.

    Answer: To be free of desire for that object.

    What causes a man to court a woman? Desire for her. Why? Because when she is gotten, the desire for her will go away.

    Thus the man doesn't want the woman. The man wants freedom from his desire for the woman. (Not in all cases of course)

    And because Jīva is ignorant, he-she innocently mistakes and justifies reasons for object is because it's a source for his-her happiness. (IE: Typical statement of ignorance “Just do what makes you happy!“)

    Real reason: Self (Brahman) is free of desire. Everyone is already the Self (free). But doesn't know it. Hence everyone identifies naturally with perfection, love, freedom.

    But since ignorant Jīva believes “I” (Brahman) is body-mind… he/she tries to give this perfection, love, freedom to the body-mind.

    Thus Jīva chases objects to please the body-mind.

    And since body-mind is constantly changing, it will eventually no longer desire (with same intensity/fascination) that Object.

    Then Jīva starts disliking the Object. Eventually looking for options of: (1) Escaping the situation, (2) Changing the object, (2) Accepting the object (suffering).

  4. Sacrifice: Live it OR die a wasted human life.

    Anything born has purpose. That purpose is of sacrifice. Another name for it is “Dharma“.

    Which means: Giving and living your unique talent/skill to the world.


    – Tree gives it's talent/skill of converting Carbon dioxide to Oxygen, which keeps living organism alive.
    – Bee's give their talent/skill of pollinating flowers.
    – Sun gives it's talent/skill of shining.
    – Etc…

    It's only humans, who're blessed with freedom to choose, who can violate this inbuilt spirit of sacrifice.

    And when it's violated (IE: you're not offering or living your talent/skill), then it's felt as mental/physical perturbation (“Something is not right, but I don't know what it is!”).

    It's same reason why Bible says “It's easier for a rope to pass through the eye of a needle, then rich man to enter kingdom of heaven“. Because rich man may have strong tendency think profit first. And unique skill/talent second.

    It seems the richer the world gets, the less one is inclined to live their unique/skill talent. Because human behavior naturally chooses EASY profit over HARD/HONEST skill.

    See here movie clip of HARD/HONEST skill in action. Man is bribed, yet follows what's right (hard) over what's easy (profit).

  5. Introduction to managing 3 Gunas for clarity and energy.

    Give 2 ways of converting excess Tamas > Rajas?

    HINT: Excess Tamas is dullness, lethargy, numbness, apathy.

    Therefore, what can one do to “snap out” of this heavy, gloomy, veiling state – INTO energy of aliveness, passion for life, dynamism, enthusiasm and energizing-bunny?

    Give 2 ways of converting excess Rajas > Sattva?

    HINT: Excess Rajas is constant activity, overpowering desire/emotions, extreme passion, ongoing excitement, enthusiasm, fun. “Let's get things done!“.

    Therefore, what can one do to “snap out” of this agitated energy… INTO peace, stillness, tranquility, equipoise, calmness?

Download visual mind map of this session.

18 Sept


  1. Robert Green on February 10, 2021 at 5:55 pm

    Hi Andre.
    In this talk you list four paths of yoga.
    Bhakti yoga
    Karma yoga
    Raja yoga
    Jnana yoga.

    In book three of Dayananda we are told very clearly that there are only two yogas- karma yoga and Jnana yoga.

    Dayananda states many times that there is no such seperate thing as Bhakti yoga.
    He also states that Bhakti yoga and Raja yoga resolve into the other two, Karma yoga and Jnana yoga.

    Perhaps the distinction is unimportant, but Dayananda goes to great lengths to stress the point.
    How is this reconciled with the teachings given here?

    • mm Andre Vas on February 10, 2021 at 8:55 pm

      Those early talks comes from my 1.5 Year BGita course done at Chinmaya Int Foundation in India. They have less strict approach. More flexible.

      It’s only by CH5+ when I started incorporating Dayananda (highly strict in sticking to tradition) & Paramarthanada. Both evolved my knowledge.

      Per that talk:

      Jnana yoga = same.
      Raja yoga = Upasana Yoga Level 1 (Ashtanga Yoga)
      Bhakti yoga = Upasana Yoga Level 2.
      Karma yoga = Karma Yoga Level 1 & 2.

  2. Robert Green on February 10, 2021 at 8:56 pm

    Thanks Andre.
    Makes sense.

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