A request and a disclaimer: Before you begin to read this blog, request you to first read the blogs titled ‘A curtain raiser to the blog series on karma yoga, The seed for karma yoga and the other blogs in this series’ before you read this one, as this sets the context for this series on karma yoga. For this blog series on karma yoga, I draw my learnings from the Bhagavad Gita Home Study book by Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati. The language and explanations used by Pujya swAmiji is so profound, that I wish I do justice by aligning my understanding to his explanation, as I parallelly try to relate it to day to day living. Any error in the way I have blogged upon these values, is due to an error in my understanding alone. To understand and introspect further on this topic, I have chosen the dialogue mode – between two of my favorite characters – MAnvi and her thAthA.. Both of them have aged by a few more years. MAnvi has grown far more deep and wide in her spiritual journey; MAnvi’s thAthA knows that his contribution is a catalyst in this journey of hers.

MAnvi: thAthA, when we hear of any two things in the same sentence, the tendency is to compare. When we say ‘Taking pleasure and pain with equanimity…’ immediately, the mind compares pleasure and pain.. and again wonders, “How do we look at pleasure and pain with equanimity? It seems so different.” thAthA, having looked at rAgA (pleasure) in isolation, let’s look at dwEsha, in my understanding – pain, in isolation.

thAthA: So how is dwEsha defined as, MAnvi?

MAnvi: thAthA, dwEsha is what we want to avoid and what we want to get rid of.

thAthA: Does this mean that the object that we want to avoid is not there with us, and we have the choice of saying NO, when we are given it?

MAnvi: Oh my God!! thAthA, where do you get such perspectives? I only looked at it as something that I don’t want, and you have brought in the aspect of ‘Being Assertive’.. Amazing!!!

thAthA, ‘Being Assertive’ is not easy but seems easy as compared to getting rid of something – be it a habit, an object, a relationship etc.,

MAnvi’s thAthA was about to say something when he heard MAnvi continue.

MAnvi: thAthA, but this also includes ‘letting go’ of something, isn’t it?

thAthA: Can you give me some examples, MAnvi?

MAnvi: thAthA, I am only referring to objects that we like that we want to avoid or want to get rid of or let go of. In which case, it causes dwEsha or pain. For example –

  • I love the sweet Mysore pAk but I want to avoid it as it contains too much sugar and ghee, which is not good for me right now.. This does cause a bit of pain..
  • I need to get rid of my habit of ‘carrying others’ monkeys on my shoulders’, because it is not helping me to ‘carry my monkeys’.. My habit has been ingrained so deeply in me that getting rid of it seems like in a way, cutting a part of myself..
  • It is important that I ‘let go’ of a particular relationship, because it is actually causing a lot of pain being in it. I am scared to ‘let go’ because I have been hanging onto it for a long time.

thAthA, you know, as I am talking to you a thought occurred to me.. this dwEsha is one where having it is a problem and so is avoiding it, getting rid of it or letting go of it. But I guess, having it is more a pain; and so we want to avoid or get rid of it or let go of it.

MAnvi’s thAthA remained silent and with his eyes focused on her. She had the look of stumbling into a revelation that would set her on a thinking drive for a few days.

MAnvi: thAthA, wait.. When one wants to avoid something or wants to get rid of something or wants to let go of something, it is to seek pleasure or happiness (rAgA), isn’t it?

On similar lines, when one wants something or wants to retain something, it leads to longing and that creates pain or dwEsha.. So thAthA, then either of them result in the other.. Then can’t we say that they are two sides of the same coin?

So, if we look at one side of the coin being rAgA and the other side being dwEsha, both belong to the same coin isn’t it? While as a side they are different, they belong to the same coin.. In which case, while rAgA and dwEsha appear different, they seem as though they are one and the same. and that’s karma yoga.

Now I know what you meant when you said that, that we need to look at rAgA and dwEsha together and then draw their connection to karma yoga..

thAthA, but can we discuss this a few days later? This is too mind boggling for me.

MAnvi’s thAthA knew the intensity behind MAnvi’s revelation. He knew that she needed time to think over to understand what was revealed to her.

thAthA: MAnvi, I have a suggestion – you may want to be in some quietness for some days. Anytime you want to come to this room and be with yourself, do so.. Whenever you are ready to discuss this further, we can.

MAnvi was so engrossed in her thoughts, that she didn’t even know when her thAthA stepped out of his room.