July 1, 2011

The Yoga of Action (Karma Yoga).

Gita in a Nutshell #13

(Complete contents at
Gita in a Nutshell: Big Ideas and Best Quotations.
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As you recall from “Different Yoga Strokes for Different Yoga Folks“, the ancient Yoga sage(s) who wrote the Gita recognized that different people would need different types of Yoga to match their personality types:

Yoga of Understanding / Yoga of Meditation / Yoga of Love / Yoga of Action

Today, let’s let the Bhagavad Gita speak directly to you about the Yoga of Action, or Karma Yoga.  As we’ve seen, when the passages are grouped together like this, they are so clear and powerful that they really don’t need any interpretation:

(For those new to Gita in a Nutshell, the voice speaking here is the infinitely wondrous universe itself, what some refer to as the “Unfathomable Life Force of the Universe” and others choose to call “God”. In the Gita these are one and the same. See GN #2.)

The superior man is he
whose mind can control his senses;
with no attachment to results,
he engages in the yoga of action.   (BG 3.7)

The whole world becomes a slave
to it’s own activity, Arjuana;
if you want to truly be free,
perform all actions as worship.     (BG 3.9)

Though the unwise cling to their actions,
watching for results, the wise
are free of attachments, and act
for the well-being of the whole world
.   (BG 3.25)

Performing all actions for my sake,
desireless, absorbed in the Self,
indifferent to “I” and “mine”,
let go of your grief and fight!   (BG 3.30)


He who can see inaction
in the midst of action, and action
in the midst of inaction,  is wise
and can act in the spirit of yoga.

With no desire for success,
no anxiety about failure,
indifferent to results, he burns up
his action in the fire of wisdom.

Surrendering all thoughts of outcome,
unperturbed, self-reliant,
he does nothing at all, even
when fully engaged in actions.

There is nothing that he expects,
nothing that he fears. Serene,
free from possessions, untainted,
acting with the body alone,

content with whatever happens,
unattached to pleasure or pain,
success or failure, he acts
and is never bound by his action.

When a man has let go of attachments,
when his mind is rooted in wisdom,
everything he does is worship
and his actions all melt away.
(BG 4.19-24)


A man is not bound by action
who renounces action through yoga,
who concentrates on the Self,
and whose doubt is cut off by wisdom.   (BG 4.42)


He who performs his duty
with no concern for results
is the true man of yoga-not
he who refrains from action.

Know that right action itself
is renunciation, Arjuana;
in the yoga of action, you first
renounce your own selfish will.

For the man who wishes to mature,
the yoga of action is the path;
for the man already mature,
serenity is the path.   (BG 6.1-3)


He who acts for my sake,
loving me, free of attachment,
with benevolence toward all beings,
will come to me in the end.     (BG 11.55)

If this is beyond your powers,
dedicate yourself to me;
performing all actions for my sake,
you will surely achieve success.   (BG 12.10)


Give up all actions to me;
love me above all others;
steadfastly keeping your mind
focused on me alone.

Focused on me at all times,
you will overcome all obstructions;
but if you persist on clinging
to the I-sense, then you are lost.   (BG 18.56-7)

#12: The Yoga of Love.

#14: Yoga is Universal Truth,
Embracing All Gods and All Paths.

(Complete contents at
Gita in a Nutshell: Big Ideas and Best Quotations
To receive notice of each weekly blog,
please join our Facebook group.)

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carrie Jul 3, 2011 10:13am

I believe karma yoga is the true heart and meaning of yoga I am proud to practice it on off the mat through spiritual activism

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Bob Weisenberg

Bob Weisenberg: Editor, Best of Yoga Philosophy / Former Assoc. Publisher, elephant journal / Author: Yoga Demystified * Bhagavad Gita in a Nutshell * Leadership Is Like Tennis, Not Egyptology / Co-editor: Yoga in America (free eBook) / Creator: Gita Talk: Self-paced Online Seminar / Flamenco guitarist: “Live at Don Quijote” & “American Gypsy” (Free CD’s) / Follow Bob on facebook, Twitter, or his main site: Wordpress.