Practice of Karma Yoga - Swami Sivananda, Sivananda

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Sri Swami Sivananda
Founder of
The Divine Life Society
So Says
Sri Swami Sivananda
Sixth Edition: 1995
(4,000 Copies)
World Wide Web (WWW) Edition: 2001
This WWW reprint is for free distribution
© The Divine Life Trust Society
ISBN 81-7052-014-2
Published By
P.O. S

249 192
Distt. Tehri-Garhwal, Uttaranchal,
Himalayas, India.
Dedicated to all selfless, motiveless,
disinterested workers of the world who are
struggling hard to get knowledge of the
Self by purifying their minds, by getting
Chitta Suddhi through Nishkama
Karma Yoga
The nectar-like teachings of His Holiness Sri Swami Sivananda Saraswati, the
incomparable saint of the Himalayas, famous in song and legend, are too well-known to the
intelligent public as well as to the earnest aspirant of knowledge Divine. Their aim and object is
nothing but emancipation from the wheel of births and deaths through absorption of the Jiva with
the supreme Soul. Now, this emancipation can be had only through right knowledge.
It is an undisputed fact that it is almost a Herculean task for the man in the street, blinded as
he is by worldly desires of diverse kinds, to forge his way to realisation of God. Not only is it his
short-sightedness that stands in the way but innumerable other difficulties and obstacles hamper the
progress onward towards the goal. He is utterly helpless until someone who has successfully
trodden the path, comes to his aid or rescue, takes him by the hand, leads him safely through the
inextricable traps and pitfalls of worldly temptation and desires, and finally brings him to his
destination which is the crowning glory of the be-all and end-all of life, where all suffering ceases
and all quest comes to an end. This realisation is nothing but the knowing of the self as the real Self,
the one without a second.
This volume is, as the title will show, a book that has been carefully prepared for the benefit
of those who are intricately placed in life that they cannot tread the path of renunciation or
Sannyasa. Certainly, unless one cleanses the augean stables of his mind and expurgates all
impurities through selfless and disinterested service while living amid the toil and moil of the
world, he will find himself in a fool’s paradise, when he puts on the second orange-coloured garb to
follow the path of renunciation. So one has to do Karma Yoga first ceaselessly and untiringly, and
develop all noble qualities such as cosmic love, endurance, nobility and Brahmacharya, and thus
equip himself for the great ensuing battle royal, and finally come out the victor.
The present work,
Practice of Karma Yoga,
coming as it does, from the inspired and
enlightened pen of Swami Sivanandaji, is, as usual, a safe and sound guide to reach the goal in view
of the aspirant. Those who have had the good fortune to know of Sri Swami Sivanandaji and his
writings—from the biggest volume to the sixteen-page pamphlet distributed free to those who ask
and those who do not ask—will agree with us how infallible his writings are, how simple and lucid
is the language he employs in order that what he writes may be accessible not only to the university
graduate, but also to him or her who has a working knowledge of English, and how sincere and
earnest the author is in his unquenchable thirst to be even a ‘particle’ of service to his brethren.
Pregnant with the magnetism of a Jivanmukta or liberated sage, they cannot but uplift the seeker
after Truth to ineffable heights of spiritual glory, bliss and peace.
There are altogether eight chapters in this book. The first chapter treats of the Yoga of
service. Such interesting and important subjects as what is poised reason, how to find out right and
wrong action, what is Nishkamya Karma Yoga, the qualifications of a Karma Yogi, work is
worship, the Yoga of equanimity, etc., are dealt with lucidly. The articles entitled ‘Health and
Yoga’ and ‘Secret of Karma Yoga’ are of vital importance and interest. One should never forget the
idea that work is worship of God. If one remembers this fact, all work will be found very interesting.
The terms ‘menial service’, ‘this work is bad’, ‘that work is good’, will be obliterated from the
mind. You will find that all work, when done with the right mental attitude or Bhava, will elevate
your mind.
The second chapter deals with universal laws. A knowledge of these laws of Nature will
help the young aspirant to turn out more efficient and solid work within a short space of time; it will
infuse discrimination and force him to do virtuous actions, always taking care to avoid all evil
actions. He will clearly understand that there is perfect order in the universe in everything. Even a
rank materialist will be induced to realise the glory of the Lord, the Law-giver, who is hidden in
these names and forms.
The third chapter deals with what is known as Svadharma. The practice of Svadharma
brings one Moksha and exaltation. A fine description of the three Gunas or qualities of Nature and
their operation is given here. An understanding of these Gunas will be of inestimable value to the
practitioner of Karma Yoga. He can develop Sattvic virtues and eradicate Rajas and Tamas. The
article ‘Instructions for Aspirants’ contains many valuable practical hints. Every aspirant should
study these instructions very carefully daily in the morning before he starts his work. This will
enable him to equip himself for the ensuing battle of daily life. He will indeed be better armed with
wisdom, spiritual force and discrimination; he can thereby ward off very many obstacles that stand
in the way of his daily work.
Though man feels he is weak and helpless at times, he is in reality the master of his own
destiny. He can counteract dark forces of evil tendencies and can command Nature through right
exertion or Purushartha. The subject is dealt with in the fourth chapter.
‘Karma and Reincarnation’ is the title of the fifth chapter. Here there is a description of the
various kinds of Karmas. I would like you to understand that sin is nothing but a mistake only.
There is no such thing as ‘horrible crime’ or ‘heinous sin’ in the light of knowledge or higher
philosophy. Many people worry themselves that they have committed serious crimes and
consequently become prey to the haunting thoughts of the so-called sin. One should never say: “I
am a great sinner.” On the contrary he should assert: “I am eternally the pure Atman.” Purity is your
birthright. In essence thou art the most sacred Atman. Feel this, feel this! The article on the doctrine
of reincarnation contains convincing, cogent, logical, forcible and sound arguments in support of
In the sixth chapter I have stated that neophytes should combine action and meditation and
that those who can meditate for twenty-four hours are very, very rare, and that such people should
take to exclusive meditation in the solitary caves of the Himalayan jungles. I have made a sincere
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