Jun 26, 2011



This article was originally written and published by me in the Indian Business Association, Moscow’s Newsletter dated June 11th, 1998 and I thought to post this on my blog with some comments and improvements. I wrote this article in Moscow when yoga was in the process of becoming popular. Few people knew the subject in the west and I am fortunate that my teacher late Paramhans Swami Satyananda Saraswati, founder of the first yoga university in the world, advised me to go through the teachers training course in the year 1984. He had predicted in the early eighties that yoga is going to become a way of life of the modern world and the day it becomes common to all, true yoga will die. Now the whole world knows what yoga is but true yoga is already in the process of waning. New forms and hybrid techniques combined with aerobic exercises, in steam, in pools, with music, in a closed room or just one part of yoga that is pranayama or meditation without going through the basics are being taught everywhere in the name of spiritual renaissance. However, the power of yoga is so strong that even by practising one part, instead of the prescribed eight fold parts, the impact on our physical, mental and emotional being is likely to be enormous.

Raja Yoga as defined by Sage Patanjali described in his text Yoga Sutra, brings emotional, physical and spiritual harmony into our self.  But to bring the true result one has to practice the entire eight- fold path (Asthanga Yoga) viz. Yama (self restraints), Niyama (self-observances), Asana (physical postures), Pranayama (breathing practice), Pratyahara (disassociation of consciousness from the outside environment), Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation) and Samadhi (identification with pure consciousness). Under the Asana and Pranayama there are several other techniques like Mudra and Bandhs (psycho-physiological energy release technique) and Shatkarmas (internal cleansing practices). They are also called Kriya Yoga. These practices prepare our body and mind for advance practices such as meditation. When the body and mind are forced to perform some unusual activity combined with yogic techniques, they are called Hatha Yoga. And when the consciousness is awakened by meditating on eight Chakras (vortices of psychic energy) it is called Kundalini Yoga. I have devoted this paragraph in order to differentiate various terminology of yoga being practiced by people to attain pure consciousness.

As per the Hindu Mythology, yoga has been preached by Lord Krishna to the Prince Arjuna in the sacred book of ‘Bhagwadgita’ and the types of yoga one should practice in one’s life. Yoga has been described in ‘Yoga Sutra’ written by Maharishi Patanjali and has also been described in various Upanishads such as Yoga Kundalini Upanishad, Yoga Chudamani Upanishad, Yoga Sikha Upanishad, Yoga Tattva Upanishad, Katha Upanishad etc.

Srimad Bhagwadgita has expounded three ways of Yoga- The Path of Action (Karma Yoga), the Path of Knowledge (Jnana Yoga) and the Path of Salvation (Bhakti Yoga). There is inalienable relationship of the three bodies: the gross, the subtle and the causal with the world. After employing all these three in the services of others- is the Path of Action. Realization of one’s own establishment in one’s own self after dissociating from three bodies- is the Path of Knowledge, and surrendering oneself to the God- is the Path of Devotion. As such every human being is endowed with three powers of yoga-

  1. The power to do is for rendering service of the world selflessly – that is KARMAYOGA.
  2. The power to know is meant to know the self – that is JNANAYOGA.
  3. The power to believe and then to surrender- is BHAKTIYOGA.
All these three types of Yoga are independent means of God realization.

My understandings of these philosophies are limited and as such humility demands not to analyze these philosophies in support or in contrary to what has been said or written by great scholars and god incarnated people. However, the human mind is very inquisitive and analytical and does not wish to succumb to a particular thought or philosophy especially in these changing times when so many scientific and technological developments have already taken place and people have no time to go into details of these philosophies. Therefore as an ordinary human being, I have tried to describe in a layman's term, how these philosophies can be applied in a modern concept?

'KARMA' means, what one is supposed to do in a righteousness manner and the term YOGI has been derived from the word yoga and thus the person who performs karma in a righteousness way is called KARMAYOGI. Derived from the root “Yujir Yoge” the word ‘Yoga’ has the implied meaning – eternal kinship with equanimity. The word kinship means – sharing of internal characteristics and equanimity means- mental composure or evenness of temper. Therefore in the word yoga, there is predominance of transcendental stability, but on achievement of this state, equanimity and prowess do follow automatically. Thus word yoga has a very pervasive and profound meaning and should not be confused with ordinary yoga practices.

Besides Asthanga Yoga, Maharishi Patanjali has also propagated other instruments of yoga such as YAJNA (sacrifice), DANA (gift), TAPA (penance), and LAYAYOGA (yoga of rhythmic unison) apart from DHYANYOGA (Yoga of Meditation), PRANAYAM (control of breath), and HATHAYOGA (austere discipline of body).

Now in the Modern Concept, one may believe to attain Sannyasa (renouncement of the world) and Moksha (to attain salvation) without doing Karmayoga. I think that is a misnomer. To attain the salvation one has to practice karmayoga for which one has come to this world and while performing karmayoga they will have to go through the ups & down depending upon the intensity of their karmas. However, in this modern world when one has many responsibilities, several tasks to perform or goals to achieve, life is so hectic and tiring, one can still become a Karmayogi by discharging his or her responsibilities in the true sense but within the framework of the definition of karmayoga as propounded in Gita. I personally think, getting salvation by way of performing karmayoga is the easiest, best and noblest way. Even monks or Gurus,  who practice Jnanayoga or Bhaktiyoga cannot escape the responsibility of doing karmayoga in this life. Therefore why not do karmayoga to attain salvation with the purity of mind and this purity comes automatically by controlling false ego, anger, greed and jealousy.

For example a professor or a teacher, when teaching their pupils with sincerity imparts his or her knowledge without concealing the material fact of the subject, without being partial to students, and without any selfish interest other than what he or she is supposed to get in lieu of their services rightfully while keeping the divine power in mind; is a modern karmayogi.

As long as lawyers, engineers, doctors and other professionals practice their knowledge honestly without any ill motives, ego or greed and by keeping the welfare of their clients, employers or patients in mind, while thinking about the divine power (Istha) as if they are imparting services not for the humans but the manifested forms of the same divine power,  they can be considered as modern karmayogis.

A trader or a business man provides all types of facilities to society by bringing in goods for the economic betterment and survival of the society. As long as they do their business with honesty and fairness and make money by way of fair play by keeping the divine power in their mind as if they are serving the manifested forms of the divine power in all living creatures, are modern karmayogis.

Here the pecuniary gain or monetary benefit or profits behind such professions must not be confused. When we employ upon the various instruments of yoga as propagated by Maharishi Patanjali to become a karmayogi, then we can understand in modern concept that monetary gain is a Gift (DANA) of their hard work they receive from the beneficiary or knowledge which has been acquired by years of TAPA (Penance) and the same knowledge is imparted upon their beneficiary by way of YAJNA (sacrifice) by practicing their vocation rightfully and virtuously.

A person's knowledge or skill cannot be assessed in terms of money, hence the sacrifice. Any person in this world cannot attain the true knowledge of his or her vocation, unless one realizes what he or she is supposed to do with righteousness, that is the realization of One Self, and that can be considered as JANANYOGA. The Jnanayoga cannot be attained unless one concentrates on his profession or vocation to acquire the knowledge, which is DHYANAYOGA. A dancer or an artist cannot understand the intricacies of TAAL (beats) or LAYA (rhythm), unless he or she mediates to understand the hidden secrets of that rhythm and that is LAYAYOGA and so on.

Hence to sum up, one has to imply upon the rightful use of various instruments of Yoga which depends upon the circumstances and the nature of one’s vocation or profession to become a Karmayogi in the modern concept. 

Suman Saran Sinha
a humble devotee of the lord.

Disclaimer: The philosophy of Karmayoga in a modern concept especially its correlation and application in different professions, is the original work of the author and it has no relevance with any book or philosophy published or unpublished. Therefore, any error or omission in my thought process may be excused.