k Siva Prasad
(K Siva Prasad is an IAS officer and these writings can be accessed at anchor.fm /GitaAcharan and medium.com /@GitaAcharan).
Krishna says that we have the right to do karma (action) but have no right over karma-phal (fruits of action). This does not mean that we gravitate towards akarma, which is inaction or mere reaction to circumstances.
Though Krishna uses the word akarma (whose literal meaning is inaction), the context suggests that it connotes ‘reaction’. Verse (2.47) talks of awareness and compassion; awareness that karma and Karma-phal are separate and compassion towards others and ourselves.
Krishna says that without performing karma, our survival is impossible (3.8) as maintenance of the physical body requires karma like eating etc. The Gunas (satva, tamo and rajo) constantly drive us towards karma (3.5). Hence, there is hardly any place for akarma.
If we observe our tendencies while going though the news, we’ll realise the number of reactions these activities (karmas) generate when we see, hear or read about our shared myths and beliefs like religion, caste, nationality, ideology, etc., be it supporting or opposing our beliefs. It is the same with our interactions in the family and workplace where it’s more of ‘reaction,’ in terms of words and deeds, emanating from a judging mind.
Such a reaction to situations and people, snatch away the joy from our lives as we move away from action that arises out of awareness and compassion. An intellect who is aware would be better able to understand the points of view of others and subsequently act in an empathetic manner.
Krishna indicates that we should be aware about the akarma (reaction) generated in us in response to the karma of others. Simultaneously, he advises us not to indulge in such karma that has the potential of generating a reaction in others. Practicing this would take us to the highest levels of maturity, integrity and joy.
— The writer is a senior IAS officer in the Punjab Government.
Last Article by K. Siva Prasad