they  are put in here as the necessary associates of an ideal doer, show that a work done with healthy detachment is not a work which is indifferently done or something which is executed as an unwanted evil necessity. One enjoys doing the work.  And one does it efficiently. It is the spirit with which one does the work rather than the mundane carrots that bring the joy. 
Unelated by success and undepressed by failure:Here it is that the student will know what it is to dedicate his work to his mother. It is common knowledge that when a child does not perform in school it is the father, (generally),  more than the mother, who will be uncompromising. The mother usually takes the stand that the child did its best and she hopes for a better performance in the future. The dedication to the mother by the teen-age student of all his work, both its  success and its  failure, achieves two things. First, it takes off the sting  of the performance (positive or negative) from the student . Secondly the mother is prepared to take the disappointment of the failure better.  In the general case of the man in the world, the success and failure would not be taken personally as to cause excitement either way, because one knows by his dedication to the Cause or the God, that one has done the best under the circumstances. 

The alchemy of the yajna attitude of even ordinary acts to a larger cause, be it as concrete as one's mother at home, or as unsubstantial as God in heaven, or as abstract as any impersonal noble cause, has to be experienced to be believed. It confirms the recurring emphasis in the scriptures on the importance of correct attitudes. Therefore it is the attitude with which you approach your karmathat is important, rather than the karma itself. It is precisely this train of argument that Lord Krishna uses in urging Arjuna to fight and not to retreat. Arjuna is immersed in the disease of false identification with the eternal world of 'his' kith and kin, says Krishna. Neither they nor he are permanent everlasting entities and so there is no sense in crying over the possible death of what is destined to die. If he identified himself with his Self, which is what he ought to do, then neither the heat and cold of the external world nor the alternatives of pleasure and pain of the mental world would affect him. His right is only to the action and not to the results thereof.  Equanimity concerning success or failure is the yoga for him. Not to retreat from a war already declared is the svadharma of the Kshatriya that he is. If he thinks that retreating to solitude, renouncing the world, would give him peace, he is mistaken -- for, the attitude with which he renounces is the deciding factor. If the attitude is not that of a jnAni who has attained enlightenment, but is that of an emotionally charged warrior whose compassion for his kith and kin has got the better of him, then such a meolodramatic withdrawal from the world would not bring peace; for the mind would continue to be in turmoil in the vortex of its worldly attachments. It does not have the maturity of dispassion that should precede renunciation. Doing what is assigned to one as one's duty is far more honourable than running away from action in dislike of that action. If one does one's duty in the spirit of yajna, the actions  do not bind one. 
The whole universe, says Krishna, is a complex of mutual yajnas. When the world was re-created by the Lord at the beginning of the kalpa, He created divine beings to be in charge of the elements and ordained that human beings should propitiate these gods to ensure that the elements behave properly. These yajnas thus give rise to a complex ecological cycle. Yajna sustains the normal behaviour  of the elements. The latter  in turn sustains the fertility and usefulness of the environment in which we live, which sustains humanity, whose duty it is to perform the different yajnas enjoined on them. This cycle    started by the Lord at the time of creation cannot be interrupted except at the peril of the collapse of the system itself. 
Let us now try to understand the concept of yajna as Lord Krishna explains it. He talks in the language of the times, when it was normal to talk about creation, divine beings, yajnas to propitiate them, and so on. The concept is difficult to appreciate if one does not have a feel for these ideas which are extra-normal to modern thinking. Modern interpretations are however available and one such is Swami Chinmayananda's. Our productive potential, including labour and capital, says the Swami, has to be propitiated selflessly. Without a generous accommodation to this productive potential in an unselfish manner, without this yajna, no society can hope to effectively reap the benefits that can accrue to it from the environment. The principle of detachment from selfish ends is inbuilt in this yajna.  The divinity of the elements is the productive potential latent in the richness of Mother Earth and the capabilities of labour and capital. So when Krishna says, 'Do your actions in the spirit of yajna' a modern secularly oriented person may take it to mean: 'Do your duty because you are a link, though only one, in that vast chain of the nation's productive potential and you have to do your duty unselfishly, always aware of the rights and needs of the other man, however high or low he may be'. This is the yajna of propitiation of the productive potential. 
Let us come back to Krishna who is repeatedly asked by Arjuna: 'Which is the correct path - renunciation or the path of action?' But Hinduism does not have binary answers to such questions.

So Krishna naturally extols both the paths and delineates the types of people  and the paths which will suit them. One who is in the initial stages of spiritual evolution, one who is a householder, one who isstill engrossed in the pursuit of his worldly desires and aspirations, one who is restless and dynamic -- for such people the path of action is prescribed.  But, for the same person, when he is at a stage where he is established in equanimity, for one who has been able to disentangle himself from the spiralling coils of desires and ever-increasing aspirations, for one who has traversed a long way in the practice of meditation, for one whose tendencies have settled down to a state of calm and quiet -- for such people the p[ath of renunciation is prescribed. Action and non-action are opposites, but a proper understanding of both is necessary for the efficient practice of karma yoga. 
To see action in non-action and non-action in action is the perception of the wise, says Krishna in gItA, 4 - 18:


karmaNyakarma yaH paSyet akarmaNi ca karma yaH /
sa buddhimAn manushyeshu


As we travel in a train we see the landscape 'moving' in the opposite direction and have a feeling, which it is particularly the privilege of innocent children to cherish, that the moving train is actually stationary. Carrying this analogy over to the Self which is ever fixed and stationary, we feel, ignorant as we are, that the entire world is moving around us, fully active and dynamic, and it appears that the world is full of action. Actually it is our mind that projects itself on the objects of the universe and makes them exist in the first place. But for the mind, but for the Eternal Divine principle behind it, none of the worlds we know through our senses would exist. Only brahman persists, all-pervading, still without motion, because an all-pervasive entity cannot have motion; there is no space for it to move ! So the wise man sees non-action in all the turmoil around him. And, for the same reason, to attribute non-action to the Self which stands still as it were is only to comprehend the Self relatively. It is the Self which permeates everywhere, which is the substratum of everything that we see and which is the prime mover par excellence. The Self, therefore, is the chief agent of action, as it were, though it appears to be a silent witness, uninvolved in the noise and turbulence of the external world. it is in this sense that the wise man sees action in non-action. 

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© 2017 by V. Krishnamurthy