The way of work: The Hindu

The way of work*

The way of work is difficult to understand, says Krishna. Even the wise are confused in interpreting what is the right course of action, karma, as against wrong action, vikarma, and also what is inaction, akarma.
Generally karma is understood as sastra-approved works and this applies to worldly as well as religious activities, pointed out Srimati Rukmini Ramamurthy in a discourse. Though traditionally upheld through the ages, it is subject to change depending on the place, situation and people. This has led to uncertainties and doubts about its true nature. Vikarma is action that has to be avoided. Akarma is broadly translated as inaction, but its significance is in the work that is done without ahamkara.
So Krishna advises that one should not quit work, but give up ahamkara. Ahamkara is a Vedantic truth that refers to the “I consciousness” in beings and is not to be confused with the sense of pride or ownership over material possessions. Generally the “I consciousness” which has to identify itself with the atma tends to superimpose itself on the anatma, that is the sthula and sukshma sariras. This creates in one the sense of doer-ship and also prompts the desire to work and attain something in life.
Viveka is the sense of discrimination in beings when one is able to distance oneself with the body and abide in the self. The wise work in a detached spirit and are relaxed in their minds. Aligned in their thought, word and deed, their acts are not motivated by desire; in fact they act with a sense of duty with their inner awareness on God. So their internal tranquillity is maintained by their detached attitude to whatever they do though they remain committed to it.
So here akarma means a state where one transcends the bonds of karma that would otherwise bind one. It is not abstaining from work.

*Source: Faith column, The Hindu, October 7, 2017


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