Home » Books » Lessons from The Bhagawad Gita : Avidya- Kama- Karma – Desires Drive Actions

Lessons from The Bhagawad Gita : Avidya- Kama- Karma – Desires Drive Actions

srimad_bhagavad_gitakarmano hyapi boddhavyam, boddhavyam ca vikarmanah

karmanas ca boddhavyam, gahana karmano gatih

My desires arise from the karmic imprints of my past life (vasanas). It is these desires that drive my actions. I have the ability to choose either to indulge in the desires or refrain from indulgence. My intellect can help me make these choices and create better vasanas.

1) I am defined by the actions I indulge in. My actions are outer manifestations of my vasanas. If I indulge in a morally weak action, a vice, ill treat someone, deal with a situation without thought, speak rudely, it is essentially thoughtless actions as decided by my vasanas.

2) Unless I involve my intellect, I give my vasanas free will to decide how I behave, act, speak or exist. If I use my intellect to think through an action (behavior or speech) before I indulge in it, then my vasanas lose  the power to overwhelm me.  Only my intellect has the power to direct me, to act or speak in a way that won’t hurt people involved.

3) When my desires alone drive all my actions, without the help of my intellect, then the actions (the way I speak or behave) that result from such desires don’t qualify as karma.  Such actions often turn out to be of malicious intent (vikarma) that create even stronger desire to indulge in amoral actions. It is a vicious cycle that I cannot get out of. Without involving the higher realm of my mind (the intellect), I have no hope for respite from the cycle.

4) My first lesson is to gracefully accept that desires stem from vasanas or the karmic imprintof past actions. Such actions usually tend to be vikarmic or undesirable actions;  How can I hope to understand the subtle differences between action and unaction before that?

5) All desirable actions  that contribute to my self development and growth, qualify as good karma. When I use my life force (atman) for opportunities that keep me busy, productive, constructive, vibrant and happy, then I am involved in good Karma. So it becomes incredibly important to ponder over every action before I  indulge in it.

karmanya karma yah pasyed, akarmani ca karma yah
sa buddhiman manusyesu, sa yuktah krtsna-karma-krt

1) When I have perfected all my actions to be karma and not vikarma (forbidden actions), will it mean that I have become perfect?  It’s not what I do that makes me what I want to be (perfect). I don’t have to be engaged in spiritual activity to be called spiritual. If the underlying intention of all my actions is spiritual – focused on the atman – then I am spiritual.

3) So long as I am able to detach myself from my body, mind and intellect and identify with the underlying spirit of truth (atman), so long as ‘ the awareness principle’  (tat-tvam-asi) is at work and I train my mind to introspect and observe, not just when I am busy speaking or doing something but even when I am inactive, then I can hope to reach a divine state of mind or state of perfection. When my mind is chaotic and agitated how can I expect to succeed?

4) As long as I am not involved in actions purely driven by desire (to please others or myself), as long as my actions are a discharge of duty without expecting it to pay back in some form, as long as I am not affected by what others think of me or my actions, I may still hope to reach the state of a karmayogi.


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