Karma Yoga and Positive Psychology

In the Indian context, Karma-Yoga, detailed in The Bhagwat Gita, is the system of ethics and religion. The Bhagwat Gita, also known as the Song of God, is the most well-known piece of Indian religious literature and has had a lasting impact on Indian culture. It is a passage from the Mahabharata, an ancient Indian epic, written as a dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna, a legendary warrior, in response to Arjuna's expression of perplexity during a crucial fight. Karma Yoga ideology is founded on the fundamental beliefs of the Indian worldview.

What is Karma-Yoga?

The word "karma" derives from the Sanskrit root "Kri," which means "doing, affairs, or activity" and refers to all human activities, whether they are physical, verbal, or mental. The Sanskrit word Yuj, which means to unite, is the source of the word yoga. However, it is utilized in three ways in the Mahabharata: as a unique talent, tool, clever technique, or graceful means of carrying out tasks; as equability of attitude toward success or failure; and as the tool for removing the innate tendency of karma to cause bondage. The phrases "yoga" and "Karma-Yoga" are used interchangeably throughout the Gita because the latter two definitions discuss the connection between yoga and action.

The Indian Worldview

Three core ideas in all six of India's philosophical systems define the Indian worldview. The first is the idea that all deeds can foretell future happiness or misery for the deed's doer, depending on whether the deed was good or bad. The second concept is that there is a timeless being called the soul (Atma), which is our undiscovered inner essence and is untarnished by the impurities of daily life. The third tenet relates to the notion of salvation (Mukti). Since actions are what propel us through this never-ending cycle of birth and death, if we could be free of all those emotions or desires that drive us to act, there would be no fuel (in the form of joys or sorrows to be felt) to drive us into another birth.

We would be free of this unending cycle. The philosophy of karma, synonymous with the idea that people only receive what they deserve in a just universe, is possibly the most well-known and misunderstood part of the Indian worldview. Karma implies that all good and bad deeds of all previous incarnations are taken into account cumulatively because it extends the idea of justice to other realms and other lifetimes. As a result, one reaps what they have sowed in prior lifetimes in each life. They believe karma reinforces one's faith in natural justice and holds each person accountable for their happiness and suffering, just like the belief in a fair world does.

Who is a Karma-Yogi?

The Karma-Yogi is the person who recognizes that non-resistance is the highest manifestation of power that one can possess and that what is commonly referred to as the act of resisting evil is merely a step on the path leading to the manifestation of this highest power, namely non-resistance. Man must first oppose evil to achieve this highest ideal; allow him to work, struggle, and strike directly from the shoulder. Only when he has acquired the ability to resist can non-resistance be a virtue.

Karma Yoga to Positive Psychology

The Gita advises, "Do not hanker after the fruit." It also demands that you behave skillfully and energetically. The behavior of the person acting without desire ought to be superior to that of acting out of desire. The latter is drawn to the fruit and will, of course, spend much or little of his time and attention on thoughts and dreams of the fruit. According to Krishna, only the task, not the outcome, comes within your control. However, it is also clear that no effort is ever in vain. It will either have a favorable outcome or an unfavorable outcome. We learn to be happy through positive psychology. We can offer our full attention to our work if we merely concentrate on it. The need for a certain outcome brings on anxiety. Only by knowing karma yoga will we be able to comprehend the positive psychology-based explanation of how work flows when fully immersed in the task.

In comparison to the enjoyment we derive from doing our jobs, which is a higher state of concentration, intrinsic motivation is secondary. Yoga practice results in salvation. Although the nature of salvation is unimportant, it is important if we experience a sense of flow at work. Karma yoga might be a helpful therapeutic technique to lessen fear and dread to lower the morbidity of mental and medical problems connected to it. It denotes Gita's teaching to "leave the past and future and live in the present."

Empathy and Karma Yoga

Karma-Yoga is a method of carrying out duties without hoping to be rewarded. Regarding others, the idea of obligation emerges, and the lack of a desire for rewards suggests an altruistic drive. Therefore, a Karma-yogi's deeds must be charitable. Karma-Yoga is also a broad disposition for people to engage in charitable giving. People can only be sensitive and conscious of their responsibility if they truly care about others. People who care more deeply about those around them on an empathetic level are more likely to be moved by altruistic motivations and, as a result, participate in altruistic assisting.

Karma in its Effect on Character

Man must contend with the greatest power of Karma and how it affects character. As though serving as a center, man draws all the forces of the cosmos to himself, where they are all fused and sent back out into the universe in a powerful stream. The actual man, the all-powerful, all-knowing center, is what attracts the entire cosmos to him; good or evil, suffering or happiness, they all rush to him and cling to him, and it is from them that he creates the immense strength known as a character and projects it outwards. In the same way that he can pull anything in, he also can toss it out.

All the motions in human society, the acts we observe in the world, and the creations we see all around us are the expression of the human mind and volition. Everything, including tools, cities, ships, and men of war, is just the result of human will, created by character, and Karma creates character. The manifestation of the will is like Karma. The world has created many strong-willed individuals who have been outstanding laborers. These individuals had enormous souls and vast wills capable of upending entire universes. Because we know who their forebears were, a will as vast as that of a Buddha or a Jesus cannot be attained in one life.

It is unknown if their ancestors ever said something that would benefit humanity. Carpenters like Joseph are in the billions, yet millions are still alive. There have been countless millions of minor monarchs like the father of Buddha. How can you explain how this small minor ruler, whom his attendants may not have obeyed, produced this son, whom half the world worships if it is merely a question of hereditary transmission? How can you explain the difference between the carpenter and his son, whom millions of people believe to be God? That explanation does not explain it. From where did Jesus' great will, which Buddha unleashed onto the world, originate? Where did all this power come from? It must have existed for a time, expanding perpetually until it erupted into society as a Buddha or a Jesus, and it continues to roll down to the present.

Moreover, Karma, or labor, determines all of this. No one can obtain anything unless they work for it; this is an everlasting truth; although we may first disagree, we will eventually come to believe it. A guy may spend his entire life trying to get wealthy; he may defraud thousands of people, but in the end, he realizes that he did not deserve it, and his life becomes a hassle and an inconvenience to him. We can continue to accumulate for our bodily delight, but only what we earn is truly ours. A fool can purchase the world's books, but they will remain in his library, and he will only be allowed to read the books he deserves, and Karma brings about this deserving.

What we deserve and what we can assimilate is determined by our karma. We are in charge of who we are, and we can create whatever we want to be. Since what we are today is created by our previous behavior, it stands to reason that whatever we desire to become may be created by our current behavior; thus, we must be aware of how to behave. What good is learning how to work, you may ask. In this world, everyone works. However, there is such a thing as wasting our energy.

Regarding this Karma Yoga, it is said in the Bhagavad Gîtâ that Karma Yoga involves performing labor, but doing it with intelligence and, as a science, understanding how to perform labor that would provide the best outcomes. You must remember that the sole purpose of this effort is to awaken the soul and unleash the power of the already present intellect. Every individual possesses the ability and knowledge necessary to succeed; these many works serve as blows to awaken this sleeping giant.


Karma Yoga is an age-old practice, but it has lost some of its significance through the years. Swami Vivekananda revived it in the modern era. He fervently supported Karma Yoga and underlined that it is one of the most effective paths to realizing one's divinity. People can attain the highest insight by acting selflessly in the spirit of Advaita. The idea of work in Swami Vivekananda is consistent with the Karma Yoga in the Bhagavad-Gita. His Karma Yoga, the path of selfless deeds, echoes the Lord's speech in the Bhagavad-Gita.

Updated on: 06-Feb-2023


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