2. The Secret of Work

‘Trees give fruits for the good of others. Rivers flow for the good of others. Cows give milk for the good of others. Similarly the possessions of the saints are used only for the good of others.’
The lawyers argue the case for or against a victim with all Sraddha, but they cannot pronounce the judgment. The students read day and night and write the exams with all sincerity, but they cannot award degrees to themselves. The players play the games with all their might, but they cannot be referees to their own play. That is the secret of work. Vivekananda has explained unselfish love in his article entitled ‘The Secret of Work’.

‘Work incessantly, but be not attached to it is the essence of this article. This also sums up the famous sloka in Bhagvadgita.

Karmanye Vaadikarastye Maa Phaleshu Kadaachana
Ma Karma Phalaheturbu Ma te sainghostva Karmani Bhagvadgita 2 - 47

Te - you
Adhikara + Asti - have right to
Karmanye va - do karmas
Kadaachana - at no point of time
Ma phaleshu - have right on the results
Ma - bu - you don’t be
Karma Phalahetur - the reason for the result
Te - Ma - astu - May you not be
Sangaha - interested
Akarmani - in avoiding work

This sloka conveys three don’ts and one do
1. You have right to do work
2. You have no right on its result
3. You should not be the reason for the result
4. Do not show interest in avoiding work.

An old man was planting a seedling. A passerby asked ‘Sir, you look so old. Do you think you will live long to enjoy its fruits ?’ The man smiled to himself and added. ‘If everyone thought that way, we wouldn’t have had the schools, colleges and the hospitals today to serve us. We have to work but should not think of its results.

You play pretty well, when you don’t think of the results. The best example for it is carom board. You play well, it is a sure coin and you can strike it well. But when that turns out to be the last coin, the deciding coin for your victory you fail miserably. Why? You are worried about the consequence of the actions. The same way, you can play chess better as an observer rather than as one of the two players. It is because you are unmindful of the result and so you are not obsessed with the game. On the contrary if you play, you are more worried about the result than the course of action. Playing the game with interest, but not worrying about the result is Karma yoga.

Ramana Maharshi was once asked by a disciple to define karma yoga. He took him to the top of Arunachala hill. He cut a branch of a tree and shaped it into a fine stick with great zeal and enthusiasm. As he was stepping down, he came across a shepherd who badly needed such a stick. The Maharshi willingly offered the stick to the boy. We come back to the line ‘work incessantly, but be not attached to the work.’

Most of the people work incessantly but only for a good result. One builder was a skilled craftsman. His houses have a specialty of their own. Finally he wanted to retire. He declared the same to the boss. The boss agreed but asked him as a last favour to construct just one more house for him. The builder had already tuned his mind for retirement. So he was in no mood to work. All the same he could not say no to the boss. So he did oblige him, but the building had no beauty. Finally when he completed it, the boss gave him the key to the house ‘Mr.Ramayya! I asked you to build this house for you! It’s my gift to you! Mr. Ramayya was shocked. You can guess why!

The parents and teachers are next to God. They work incessantly for the family without any expectation of any return. Does any parent ever say, ‘I brought you up with great difficulty. Come on send me
Rs.10, 000 every month!’ Even if they say so, it is only to pull the leg of the children, but they don’t really take it. They add a little more money of their own and give it back to their children. The same way the teachers teach the young ones though the latter are not very keen on learning. They mould their teaching to suit their calibre. Once the students pass out, the teachers hardly see them. They hardly get a sweet as a reward for their hard work but they never expect any return. Nor do they shirk from their responsibility of training the young ones.

Out of the three yoga - Bhakti yoga, Jnana yoga, Karma yoga - Karma yoga is best suited for us human beings - we have to fulfil our vihita or kartrutva Karma without expecting any result. Kartrutva karma is the duty we are expected to fulfil and Nishkama karma is to do the duty without expecting any result.

If we worship our work we need not even do the general prayer. This is explained in the story of Maha Tapa.

Maha Tapa as the name symbolizes, was a great saint. He attained some special powers by his tapas Shakti. He stared at a crane once when its droppings fell on him. The crane was burned down to ashes. Then he came into the village begging for alms. A woman in a house came out, ‘Please wait; I am busy serving my husband. I cannot attend to you immediately.’ The saint got angry and began to stare at her the same way. The woman said, ‘I am not a crane to be burnt down. I am a ‘Pativrat’ (serve my husband as my lord)’ Maha Tapa was taken aback. How did she know it ? He wanted to become her disciple, but she advised him to go to a man called Dharma Vyadudu, some where in Ujjain. The saint went accordingly and was shocked to see him as a butcher. He was deeply engrossed in his work and asked him to see him later. Later when he went, he was all the more shocked to see him sleeping with his feet over a Siva Lingam. The saint got angry and shouted at him. The man said ‘OK you remove my feet from there and keep them aside. But surprisingly, wherever he kept his feet, a Siva Lingam rose from under his feet. Then Maha Tapa realized that the lady there and the butcher here believed in their ‘Kartrutvam’ in their duty and treated it as God. The butcher served his old parents well.
For a student - his karma yoga is to study well and for a businessman his karma yoga is to do his business sincerely.

Work is Worship
Work is Divine.