Renunciation of Results – Internal or External?

October 23, 2013 Comments Off on Renunciation of Results – Internal or External?

The sole object of resorting to Yogabuddhi is to perform all activities with efficiency, excellence and joyfulness. Such a yogic pursuit is itself adequate to gain for the practitioner the supreme spiritual goal also simultaneously. This is what Krishna emphasizes in the last verse concluding his exposition of karma yoga:

The introspective people (manishinah) reach the unassailable abode (anamayam padam), freed from the bondage imposed by birth (janma-bandha-vinirmuktah). This is accomplished by abandoning the phala born out of karma (karmajam phalam tyaktva), as their buddhi remains well-integrated (buddhiyukta hi).

Manishi means manana-seela (introspective person). The karma yogis have thus to be manishis. Only then their yoga pursuit will become meaningful and bring its destined spiritual outcome.

In karma yoga, the practitioner has to be extremely alert in doing manana or rumination, by which alone the mind gets more and more exposed to the truths about the world and the life, about action and its consequence, about bondage and freedom. One may do any extent of karmas. It will still be mere performance. One’s vision and depth will grow only when his buddhi and mind begin to introspect. This is what Krishna pin-pointed when he stated earlier that “the resolute nature of buddhi (vyavasayatmika buddhih) is the fundamental factor in pursuing karma yoga” (verse 2.41). Any extent of restatements on this account will not be an excess in bringing home the need for repeated introspection.

Right rumination or introspection is extremely essential for any one to live in this world. Mind knows only to think and bring memories. To study them, understand the implications and evaluate these with depth and insight is the task of buddhi. This buddhi has to be activated in all situations. Krishna is inspiring and arousing Arjuna’s intelligence by presenting before him the truth of the Indestructible Soul, by proving the transitory nature of the body and all that it does and meets as outcomes. As a further note, Krishna takes Arjuna’s mind away from the fleeting karmas and their ephemeral external results to the lasting inner enlightenment.

By virtue of manana, what do the manishis accomplish? Krishna makes it clear that the phala born of karma is kept away by the effect of manana. Krishna uses the word tyaga (abandonment) for this ‘keeping away’. Tyaga here actually means renunciation, the highest spiritual concept as well as attainment.

To be doing karma and at the same time to be abandoning its result, may look quite strange, if not absurd. If you do not perform any karma, then there will not be any question of a result at all. Where is then the need for abandoning the result? Only for one who is given to karma, the question of disturbance caused by its result and the need for getting relieved from it arises. And this is what has to be accomplished.

Here the point to be understood is that Geeta does not state at any time that the objective results of karmas are to be abandoned or kept away. Every karma has its specific result. Devoid of result, no karma can ever be thought of even by a foolish person. Look at Nature. Think of the whole lot of vegetation, the plant kingdoms. Everywhere growth and activity take place only to bring forth their specific outcome. To think of dissociating the karma from the objective result while doing karma or after doing it, is unnatural and impossible too.

Like a flower blossoming from a plant, a fruit growing from the flower, the objective external result is always an inevitable phase of the very course of karma. If action, karma, is the precedent factor, then its result, phala, is the succeeding one. Both together constitute the full range of the karma process. How can then any separation as such between the performance of karma and meeting its result or outcome be thought of at all?

Thus the question becomes very relevant: What is the renunciation of results Krishna speaks so emphatically about? The answer is quite clear, unmistakable. The objective external results of karmas are not what Geeta wants us to renounce. The subjective results are the one implied here and they can be renounced in full, no doubt. By so renouncing, we do not lose anything, but gain instead something everlasting. Objective results are external, material in nature. They belong to the object sphere. Whereas the subjective results or impacts always belong to the doer, the karta. These impacts are subject to alteration, improvement or even replacement. Mental responses can always be treated and altered. As explained earlier, depending upon the outlook and vision, attitude and evaluation, a karma or result will bring about an altogether different impact in the doer, as happened in the case of Arjuna himself. Arjuna, as he began to be receptive to Krishna’s gospels, changed his point of view and assessment about the war and its outcome. – Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha (Extract from the  “Essential Concepts in Bhagavadgeeta” by Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha as published in Vicharasetu in January 1998) (c) Narayanashrama Tapovanam, 2012


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