Action assumes importance as you enter life. If you desist from action, it will not be possible for you even to maintain your body. So you have to act, and act, and act. What is important is the spirit behind your actions. If they are supplemented with good feelings and noble thoughts, they raise you to heights. Are you using your energies to go up or go down? It is this point of view that assumes greater significance. If energies are dissipated, it will take you downwards. Are you committed to the truth and the well being of others? Or is it your ego that shows you the directions? There is nothing to fear if you have a positive approach in your actions.
We hear a lot about Yoga which is the power of action, one that unites you to the God, and one that is dearer to the Lord than the yoga of knowledge. Yoga is that power which ultimately brings you nearer to the Lord. It minimizes the distance between man and God. You will feel that you are near Him. You will get an awareness that He is your guide, one who helps you to destroy your ignorance and keep you away from pain and sufferings:
"Yogah bhavati dukkha"
The unity with God can be achieved through actions. The Lord Himself lays a great stress on this. It is only through right type of action that you can reach Him. But the action has to be special.
"Yogah Karmasu Kaushlam"
The easiest way to reach Him is through actions performed in the right spirit. The Lord tells us that what He desires He can achieve only on His wishing. But He comes again and again to this world to help humanity. Thereby pointing out that what is important for Him is "Action". For He himself has chosen to Act.
"Yada Yada hi dharmsya glanirbhavati Bharatah Abuthanamadharmasya tadatmanam Srijanyaam" Chaper 4, Shloka 7
Let us then analyze what actions can give us the supreme bliss and keep us away from sufferings and pains. The first and the most important thing for us to understand is that our right is only to act. We have no power on results of our actions. In no case the fruits of action should be our concern. It does not also conclude that we should be attached to inaction. What we have in our lot , is in His power, in His hands, so why work towards results, something over which we have no control? At the same time we have to act with interest, with perseverance and with determination:
Karmanyaivaiadhikaraste ma phelashu kadachan ma karmaphalheturbhu matesangostvakarmani Chapter 2 Shloka 47
My own experience in life has very much shown this truth. I worked, as a family member, to carry out a business successfully and make ourselves rich and prosperous, but we landed only in a severe financial crisis, disgrace and defamation. I worked in a most disinterested manner in writing my thesis, least bothered to succeed, only to find congenial engagement. I got what I had never dreamt of, a Ph.d degree in English Literature. It is my firm conviction that what we need to do is to act what is in our hands, always remembering God and moving forward in the right spirit.
"Niyatam Kuru Karma toam Karma jyayoh akarmanah."
Chapter 3 Shloka 8.
We have different types of Yogis, Rajas, Tamas, and the third that goes beyond these is Satve Karma Yogi, that is Satva. These are the three types of tendencies which make us to work. We are mostly guided by these three. "Rajas" Karma Yogi believes in getting results for his actions. He rather craves for it. "Tamas" Karma yogi would not work if the results are not foreseen. But a true "Satve", Karmyogi is beyond these. He neither looks for results nor leaves it; he goes a step above these. He sacrifices it at the feet of the Lord. Krishna points out:
"Yatjuhose dadasiyat yaktapasyasi Kauntaiya tatkurushva madarpanaur" Ch.9 Shloka 27.
Whatever you do, do it in a spirit that it is a prayer to the Lord. You offer to the Lord what you act, and surrender your actions at His feet. So a karmyogi does not leave his fruits but frees himself from the bond of karma in the shape of good and evil consequences, "Sukha and Dukha".
It is the feeling behind your action which is the most important thing. An action may be very simple but it assumes a stature of sublimity by the feeling behind it. It makes the act extraordinary. His actions become great because they are supplemented and seconded by noble thoughts. Yet in his outlook he is very humble. He is a real Karmyogi because all his actions are performed in the spirit of sacrifice. He obtains by his actions, supreme bliss and a balance of mind that keeps him poised, and he thus receives the love of God. He who does his duty keeping his eyes away from the results is in fact a "Sanyasi", not a Sanyasi that has given up actions, but one who acts and is yet a "Sanyasi".
A beautiful example cited by Vinoba Bhave would make my point clear. Pundaleek, devoted to his old, disabled parents was once giving bath to them. His service to his parents was a worship to him. One day the Lord appeared before him. Busy in washing and rinsing them, he could not afford a minute for the Lord, so he threw a brick and requested Him to sit down, as that moment belonged to his parents and he could not spare even a minute for the Lord. The Lord smiling sat down and kept on watching Pundaleek. When he finished his work and made his parents sit down comfortably on the bed, he turned towards the Lord and attended Him. The Lord was highly pleased to see his devotion and the spirit of sacrifice with which he was actingNishkaam Karma i.e. selfless act. Pundaleek did his duty and surrendered its fruits at the feet of the Lord. He was in supreme bliss, which was the result of his action.
See the same action of the sons today. Deprived of devotion, looking only for gains their action leads them to their frustration, depression, unhappiness and regrets. A son, I know harassed and abused his mother so much that every day she would run out of the house towards the evening and stay for the whole night with some neighbor. Again in the morning when her pain would subside she would come to his son. This process followed for some time. After few weeks, one day she did not return home as usual. The son thought that it was some new trick of his mother and so he did not take it seriously. But when she did not return for a week, he started enquiring about her and was told by the neighbors that she was not with any one of them. He waited for some time, when one day a dead body was found floating on the river Yamuna. People were asked to identify. To the surprise of this man, it was his mother. He failed in his duty as a son. He failed in his Karma, in his action, because the Lord was meaningless to him.
Unless you do not place the Lord within your heart, you can never go in the right direction. It is not only in great events of life but in every day ordinary incidents of life that action assumes importance. Let us not forget this basic truth that action carried on in the right spirit is religion itself. Devotion should be the only motive of your action. What you are going to get as a result of your action should never be your concern. This should be sacrificed at the feet of the Lord. Thus the fruits tasted will bring youAnanda or eternal joy. If you are born you have to act. But see how you act. This will completely change your world. Be a Karmayogi, of the type the Lord has preached in His Gita. By your detached action, you will unite yourself with the Lord. Your action will be a source of happiness to you. You are always in the search of happiness when it lies just at your doorstep. Think, reflect, and act, but act in the right direction and receive that for which you have come in this world, joy and satisfaction. Do not forget that life is a gift to you. Search for bliss in your actions. You must follow the path for which you are best suited, but in this age special stress should be laid on "Karma Yoga".