9.3: YAJNA METHODOLOGY FOR DETACHMENT P.3
To such a student the Gita says: Do your duty in the spirit of yajna and do not be attached to the fruits of your efforts. You may ask: 'If I am not attached to the result of my examinations then with what motivation do I study?' .When the gItA says: 'Do not be attached', it means 'Do not have illusions, false expectations about the fruits of actions, anxieties concerning the results and fears of future calamities that have not yet happened'. All these are consequences of attachment. When you sit down to study for examinations, if, instead of studying, you keep thinking about what is likely to be the nature of the question paper in the examination, what is the likelihood that so-and-so may do better than you, what will happen if you do not do well, what minimum effort you have to put in so that you may scrape through the examination, and so on, then you have allowed your attachment to the results of the examination to dominate your thinking. This is precisely what karma yoga wants you to avoid. It says: 'Do your duty in a spirit of dedication'. You may ask: 'What is the meaning of dedication in the context of my daily chore of studies? To whom do I dedicate myself? Why? What is the outcome of such dedication? How does it alter the picture?' It does; how it does so we will now understand through an example.
Think of your mother at home, far away; she is looking forward to your returning from college with a feather in your academic cap. She expects you to follow certain norms in your daily activities and she has great hopes about your returning to her more balanced, more mature, more knowledgeable, than when she sent you to college. You certainly do not want to disappoint her. Now comes the crucial technique of yajna. It says, for example, 'Dedicate all your actions to your mother, do everything because your mother would like you to do it that way. Avoid certain things because your mother would want you to do so'. In short, you live and act as your mother would want you to. In other words you have dedicated your every step to your mother. Dedication is the voluntary acceptance of suffering for another's sake and, in this case, for your mother's sake, that is, if you think being a good student for your mother's sake is a suffering. This is the karma yoga of the student who has dedicated all his actions to his beloved mother. The consequences of such a dedication must be seen to be believed. At almost every step one experiences an alchemy taking place in one's mind; a constant war will be waged in the inner recesses of the mind between the good vAsanAs and the not-so-good vAsanAs and each time the conviction that one is doing things for the sake of one's mother at home will gradually resolve issues and tilt them towards the side of the better vAsanAs. Such a student may be said to be doing svAdhyAya-yajna, the yajna of study.
This is exactly what the gItA describes in its classification of 'doer' as 'satvic' (the ideally noble) in gItA 18 - 26:
mukta-sango-naham-vAdI dhRty-utsAha-samanvitaH /
siddhy-asiddhyor-nirvikAraH kartA sAtvika ucyate //
Free from attachment, free from egoism, full of a fixed impersonal resolution and a calm rectitude of zeal, unelated by success and undepressed by failure, such a one is called the sAtvika-kartA.
This verse being the punchline in our elaboration of the yajna attitude, we treat the concepts one by one in detail.
Free from attachment: This is easier said than done. The Scriptures with one voice give the recipe how to be free from attachment. The human mind by nature cannot obey the commandment of non-attachment. Therefore they say, attach yourself to God. The Tamil tirukuRaL puts this most succintly and beautifully:
paRRuga paRRaRRAn paRRinai appaRRaip-
parruga parru viDaRku /
Acquire only the attachment to God who has no attachment Himself . In order to get rid of all attachments that attachment has to be acquired.
This is the religious facet of karma yoga. In the modern terminology of Psychology this is called 'releasing from worldly ties by retying to Spirit'. But this attitude would require a belief in God and things of the 'beyond'. Youth may perhaps want a prop without the intervention of the idea of God. The mother as a deity of dedication is only one example of how karma yoga can be implemented even at the level of a teen-age student and even for the purpose of what appears to be a most self-centred action in which the good of the society does not enter the picture and wherein only the good of one's own self is the prime mover. The mystery of the yajna attitude is its conversion of even an act of selfishness into an act of dedication and detachment! So the student, in tune with his attitude of dedication to his mother, should see to it that attachment to his mother replaces his perennial attachment to the results of his work. For a man in (incidentally, not 'of ') the world, this means he is either attached to his God whom He serves or to his abstract God of Service -- which may be either the society, the cause, or the organization he serves. In all cases there is attachment no doubt but the attachment is never for an end which is self-centred. This is the yajna attitude. In the secular world this means one is stepping clear of bonds and physically moving away from problems so that even difficult problems of management or tricky personal problems get solved from a distance .
Free from egoism. Again the dedication takes care of this. Whether it is the Marketing Executive, the Administrative Manager, the student on the climb, or the man in the world, the dedication to either the cause, or the organization, or the mother, or God, is the proper antidote for curtailing the ego and in due time making it totally subservient to everything else. Once the ego is put in its place, the yajna attitude is on.