Friday, April 17, 2009

Tale to Understand - Significance of selfless service or Nishkamya karma


Millions come to Kashi as pilgrims. It is said that those who see Kashi will not be born again.

One day at Kailasha, Parvathi asked Shiva, "Lord, I have heard that all those who visit Kashi, where there is a celebrated shrine for your worship, will attain Kailasha and stay on there in your presence. Millions are coming to Kashi, but is this place big enough to accommodate all of them?"

Shiva replied, "Every one of them cannot come to Kailasha. I shall design a play and make clear to you who among the millions can come here. You, too, have a role to act. Do as I direct you to."

Parvathi became an old lady of 80 and Shiva a rickety old man of 90. The old woman had the old man on her lap, right at the main entrance of the famous Shiva shrine of Vishweshwara, and she lamented: "My husband is terribly thirsty. He is about to die of thirst. I cannot leave him and go to the river Ganga to bring him water. Will any of you pour a little Ganges water down his throat and save his life?"

The pilgrims were coming up from the ghats after their ceremonial bath in the holy river, their clothes still wet and clinging to their bodies. Some of them commented that their peace was disturbed by the sight of this pathetic couple. `We have come to take Darshan of the Lord, and look what meets our eye.' There were some who flatly ignored her cries and lifted their noses in the air. Some said, `Wait. Let us finish the worship inside the temple and then we shall bring the Ganga water for you.' No one offered them Ganga water since they needed it for themselves!

Just then a robber, who was hurrying into the temple to pick a few pockets, heard the plaintive voice of the old woman and halted near them.

She cried, "Son, we came to this place to have Darshan of Lord Vishweshwara of Kaashi, but my husband has fainted out of sheer exhaustion. He might survive if someone will bring a little Ganga water and pour it down his throat. I cannot leave him here and go for water. Please help me and earn the merit."

The robber was moved into compassion despite his `profession' ! He had a little Ganga water in the hollow gourd he had with him. He knelt down near the dying person on the lap of the old woman, but the woman stopped him suddenly saying, "The moment the Ganga water wets his throat, my husband may die; he is in the last stage of living. Therefore speak a word of truth and pour the water."

The robber could not understand what she meant, so she explained, "Speak within his hearing, some good deed that you have done in your life, and then pour the water in his mouth." That created a problem for the robber. He was at his wits end. He could not quite comply.

He said, "I have, in truth, not done any good deed so far. This present act, the offering of water to this thirsty man, is the very first good deed I am responsible for." And saying this, he placed the gourd at the lips of the old man and gave him a mouthful.

Just at the moment, the couple disappeared and in their placed stood Shiva and Parvathi, in all their splendour, blessing the robber who was completely stunned & speechless!

Lord Shiva told him, "Life is to be dedicated for the service of others and not devoted to the exclusive interests of oneself. Howsoever many wicked deeds you might have done so far, for your selfless offering of Ganga water with truth on your tongue, we bless you with this Vision & grant you liberation! Remember there is no morality higher than truth; there is no prayer more fruitful than seva. No amount of rituals & worship would help if you don't do seva. Both are essential just like a bird requires 2 wings. With these 2 wings you can reach Kailasha!!!"


God has given this marvellous machine, to man for service of humanity and thereby attaining an immortal life. If he uses this body for satisfaction of petty desires and selfish ends, he becomes an object of pity and condemnation. He is caught up in the wheel of birth and death. But if he uses his body for the service of others, he reaches the Highest and attains God. This is called as Karma yoga and when it's done sleflessly its called as Nishkamya karma.

Even if we do even a little service to the country or to the society or to poor sick people, it brings its own advantages and benefits. It purifies our heart and prepares the Antahkarana (mind, intellect, ego and subconscious mind) for the reception of knowledge of Atma. The Samskaras or impressions of these good actions are indelibly imbedded in our subconscious mind. The force of these Samskaras will again propel us to do some more good actions. Sympathy, love, the spirit of patriotism and service will be developed. Nothing is lost when the candle burns.

That is the reason why Lord Krishna says to Arjuna:

"Nehaabhikramanaaso sti pratyavaayo na vidyate
Svalpamapyasya dharmasya trayate mahato bhayat.

There is no loss of effort here, there is no harm. Even a little of this service delivers one from great fear." Gita: Chapter II-40."

The path of Karma Yoga, which eventually leads to the attainment of the infinite bliss of the Self, cannot be futile. When the thought of doing good becomes part and parcel of a man’s very being, he will not entertain any motive at all. He takes immense delight in serving others, in doing good to others. There is a peculiar joy in the practice of vigorous Karma Yoga. The Karma Yogi gets inner spiritual strength and power by performing motiveless and selfless actions.

Look at the stupendous and magnanimous work turned out by Lord Buddha, Sri Sankara and other Karma Yogis of yore. Their names are handed down from posterity to posterity. Their names are still remembered. The whole world worships them with reverence. Can we attribute an iota or grain of selfish motive to their actions? They lived for doing service to others. They were examples of absolute self-abnegation.

We should expand. Purify our hearts. Live in the true spirit of Karma Yoga. Live every second for the realisation of the ideal and goal of life. Then and then alone will we realise the true glory of Karma Yoga.

Let us keep before us the examples of the great Karma Yogis who served mankind and thus radiated peace, bliss and wisdom unto all.

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