We have all heard and read about Karm Yog. Many of us may even practice it.
But what is Karm Yog? Why is there so much importance placed on Karm Yog in this age of Kaliyug?
The aim of human life is to reach God and there are many paths one can take. In the ancient days, reverence and importance of God in daily life was very high. People imbibed devotional sentiments in almost every aspect of their life, irrespective of their vocation. It was not out of the ordinary to see people take up the spiritual path as the aim of life. Many even took sanyas. The society understood that it was an intrinsic part of life in sanatan dharm.
Hence, the environment was fairly conducive for aspirants to pursue their path of spiritual realization, be in Yog, Gyan or Bhakti. Seekers could dedicate their mind and body in progress of their chosen path. External distractions and material attachments were not as much as it is today.
As time passed, civilization underwent tremendous transformation and material attachment gained prominence with simultaneous degeneration of spiritual and moral values in the society.
Today's world bears no comparison to generations 2000 years ago or older. Our mind is deeply attached to the various material objects of this world, some subtle and some gross. Many negative elements like violence, grief and calamity clouds our mind and thought. The level of spiritual knowledge and awareness of the general public is less compared to what it was. We do not find peace and happiness in this material world, yet we chase the mirage endlessly.
After learning the fact that true happiness lies in God alone, how can a common man who works 10 hours day or more, concentrate his mind on God with all the stress and strife surrounding him?
Shree Krishna explains in 'The Gita' that all beings are compelled to work by their intrinsic modes of nature, and nobody can remain without action for even a moment. Those who display external renunciation by donning the ochre robes, but internally dwell upon sense objects, are hypocrites. Superior to them are those who practice karm yog, and continue to engage in action externally, but give up attachment from within.
Shree Krishna then stresses that all living beings have responsibilities to fulfill as integral parts of the system of God's creation. When we execute our prescribed duties as an obligation to God, such work becomes yajña (sacrifice). The performance of yajña is naturally pleasing to the celestial gods, and they bestow us with material prosperity. Such yajña causes the rains to fall, and rain begets grains which are necessary for sustenance of life. Those who do not accept their responsibility in this cycle are sinful; they live only for the delight of their senses, and their lives are in vain.
Jagadguru Shri Kripaluji Maharaj has provided the most comprehensive explanation to Karm Yog for the modern world.
He advises that a spiritual aspirant need not abandon his or her home to become one with God. Bhakti can be practiced while a person remains active in the material world, fulfilling his duties. What one needs to abandon is the attachment to material objects. The mind needs to be attached to God by detaching it from the material world.
A person can continue to work in daily life but should learn to detach himself from the fruits of his actions. He need not wear an orange robe and roam the streets with a bowl. One should continue to perform his duties to the best of his abilities and leave the results to God. Whatever the fruits are, he must dedicate it to God and accept it as his grace. One must not let the events of life distract or affect the mind. Whether an event is good or bad, the mind must not get disturbed. It is with practice that we learn to detach our mind and attach it to God.
Another very important aspect of spiritual practice is meditation on the personal form of God. Throughout the day, one goes through many tribulations and the mind gets disturbed. To strengthen the mind, a Karm Yogi must also dedicate a few hours every day in contemplation and meditation (Roopdhyan) of his beloved and personal form of God. This is called Karm Sanyas. This practice helps an individual increase his longing for his beloved and at the same time, helps strengthen the mind to tolerate the many adverse situations that life throws at him.
Detachment of the mind from the world and attachment to God will develop slowly. With rigorous practice, a person can become a perfect Karm Yogi. He will be a good worker, husband and father by performing his duties to the fullest, but his mind and heart will remain attached to God alone.