What is Karma Yoga

A short compilation of passages on Karma Yoga from Sri Aurobindo

All spiritual paths lead to a higher consciousness and union with the Divine and among the many paths one of the greatest is the Way of Works: it is as great as the Way of Bhakti or the Way of Knowledge.

Pg 348, Vol 12, CWSA

The only work that spiritually purifies is that which is done without personal motives, without desire for fame or public recognition or worldly greatness, without insistence on one’s own mental motives or vital lusts and demands or physical preferences, without vanity or crude self-assertion or claim for position or prestige, done for the sake of the Divine alone and at the command of the Divine. All work done in an egoistic spirit, however good for people in the world of the Ignorance, is of no avail to the seeker of the Yoga.

Pg 232, Vol 29, CWSA

Self-dedication does not depend on the particular work you do, but on the spirit in which all work, of whatever kind it may be, is done. Any work, done well and carefully as a sacrifice to the Divine, without desire or egoism, with equality of mind and calm tranquillity in good or bad fortune, for the sake of the Divine and not for the sake of any personal gain, reward or result, with the consciousness that it is the Divine Power to which all work belongs, is a means of self-dedication through Karma.

Pg 246, Vol 29, CWSA

Of course the idea of bigness and smallness is quite foreign to the spiritual truth. Spiritually there is nothing big or small. Such ideas are like those of the literary people who think writing a poem is a high work and making shoes or cooking the dinner is a small and low one. But all is equal in the eyes of the Spirit — and it is only the spirit within with which it is done that matters. It is the same with a particular kind of work, there is nothing big or small.

Pg 247, Vol 29, CWSA

There are many who pursue inwardly the spiritual life and keep the family duties, not as social duties but as a field for the practice of karmayoga, others abandon everything to follow the spiritual call alone and they are justified if that is necessary for the Yoga they practise or if that is the imperative demand of the soul within them.

Pg 99, Vol 35, CWSA

It is not the form of the work itself or mere activity but the consciousness and Godward will behind it that are the essence of Karmayoga; the work is only the necessary instrumentation for the union with the Master of works, the transit to the pure Will and power of Light from the will and power of the Ignorance.

Pg 221, Vol 29, CWSA

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Teach skills, not syllabus: Kiran Bedi

From becoming the first women police officer of Indian Police Service (IPS) to hauling away vehicles of the powerful in New Delhi, introducing meditation in Tihar Jail, participating as a leader of the Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption movement, winning the Magsaysay Award, now being the Governor of Puducherry, etc, Kiran Bedi continues to draw admiration for her efforts to improve the public administration at whatever post, position and responsibility she takes. She was in auroville a few months ago where disbanding her vehicular entourage, she bicycled along with the representatives of the residents to see around and was reportedly impressed. After her official visit to Kalapet near auroville, on bicycle, during last weekend her press release mentioned where the key is for the right kind of village education and development. Coming from some one who had fared high in the prevalent education system, it is especially valuable. At a children’s home at Kalapet she had suggested to the management to train the kids on all skills instead of orienting them to limited syllabus.

Almost the entire school educational funds of the national and state governments are channeled towards the govt. boards’ syllabus oriented education but admittedly there has also been a marginal shift towards a skill-oriented education but which is, again, not free of the diseases of the former. A better skill development education would be to conduct the same without the usual examinations and diplomas and include developing the character and body of the youth as other objectives. Enlightened education envisaged by Sri Aurobindo and The Mother whose message continue to play a significant role in some of the outreach educational activities of auroville can play a crucial role in bringing such a change in the region around auroville.

As the law prohibits children below 14 from being employed those around the age limit can be drawn to a holistically designed skills developing education. Such youth are most likely already enrolled into fulltime mainstream courses and therefore skills development can be held during weekends and term holidays. A variety of skill development courses may be offered to suit different interests and youth who have dropped out of the main stream education ought to be specially welcomed.  Number of students of a course need not exceed 10 so each participant can get adequate attention of the teacher. As the students are not forced by the societal or parental compulsion to join such courses, as it is more likely the case with mainstream education, but more likely motivated by their innate interest the learning time required will be less and running of the courses, which would be naturally of short lengths, wouldn’t cost much.

Most essential to such an education is to try to provide teachers who are engaged as professionals in the skills they teach. Being guided by a teacher who lives by his profession would also help the students understand the viability and difficulties of the work in the field. The existing infrastructure in schools and education centers, without needing to add much, could be utilised as they are mostly free of activities during holidays and term vacations. Some courses can be conducted even under the trees and the teachers may also bring their own tools.

Theory part of the course should be minimal but adequate to serve as a basis to commence and develop the skill selected. Apart from skill developing the students should be encouraged to organise outdoor activities among themselves such as games, athletics etc. and wherever possible provided with facilities for the same with the aim of not only winning but excelling themselves and developing their character. Sessions on work ethics, meditation and yogasana ought to be part of such courses. For those inclined to start their own skill based service centers a course on entrepreneurship with the participation of local banks may be organised.

Other problems of villages such as the occurrence of crime and lack of computer literacy that Kiran Bedi spoke of and were highlighted in the news reports can also be better achieved with the integral kind of skill development courses.

Source of the newsreport on Kiran Bedi at Kalapet