Selfless Work: Its Basis, Methods and Fulfilment

Item Code: NAE484
Author: Swami Bhajanananda
Publisher: Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda University
Language: English
Edition: 2007
Pages: 86
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 8.0 inch X 5.5 inch
Weight 130 gm
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Book Description
Back Of The Book

It will be god if you can do your work in a selfless way, giving up the egoistic feeling, ‘I am the doer’. By doing this kind of selfless work, devotion and love for God develop in the mind. By. continuing to do this kind of selfless work you will realize God.

One must bear everything, because it is all due to cause and effect, according to one’s Karma. And good Karma counteracts the effects of one’s previous Karma ... If you do a good act, it will cancel the effects of your evil deeds.

If a man works without any selfish motive, does he not gain anything? Yes, he gains the highest. Unselfishness is more paying, only people have not the patience to practice it. It is more paying from the point of health also. Love, truth, and unselfishness are not merely moral figures of speech. They form our highest ideal, because in them lies such manifestation of power.


Karmayoga is a disciplined way of doing work which is necessary for people belonging to all walks of life—spiritual aspirants, workers, business personnel, devotees, housewives, professionals, students, believers and nonbelievers in God. But it is perhaps the most misunderstood and misinterpreted of all the four yogas. Today’s social life will become immobilized without work. Even the traditional monks, who philosophically are wont to reject work as an impediment to the highest knowledge, cannot but accept the fact that work is an inevitable component of life, particularly in the modern age. Since workers struggling to perform selfless work encounter numerous obstacles that jolt them out of their beliefs and pet concepts. When rank selfishness is the order of the day and self-seeking people get their ‘rewards’ for ‘successfully’ elbowing out and crushing the selfless workers, the latter feel deeply disturbed. They begin to look for a deeper anchor within themselves to which the boat of their convictions could be safely fastened. At the other end of the line are people who dive headlong into the turbulent waves of the workaday world without having any idea about the complicated nature of the warp and woof of Karma. Like an insidious enemy, work slowly devours them while they harbour the illusion that they are controlling and manipulating work. They get entangled in it in spite of themselves. Work makes their lives hectic and deprives them of peace and higher fulfillment.

Both these categories of workers who are well meaning and sincere in their own way are often troubled by questions rising in their minds about work. Is selfless work at all possible in this modern world characterized by competitiveness and aggressive one-upmanship? What does Karmayoga really mean in such a context? Is everyone from any walk of life eligible to do. Karmayoga? How can secular work be transformed into spiritual work, so that work brings supersensory joy (ananda)? Is Karmayoga possible without having faith in God or any supernatural power? If Karmayoga as a way of selfless work elevates the worker, why is it that we often see selfless workers getting helplessly crushed by the self-seeking and wicked people? How ‘safe’ is it to be selfless and practise Karmayoga in a selfish world of barter and trading in love and service? Is there no end to the meaningless steeplechase in life? Is to work and live like a beast of burden the only purpose of human life? Is it possible to realize the Truth through Karmayoga and if so, how? Where lies the line of demarcation between Karma and Karmayoga? What gives Karmayoga its distinct status? What are the conditions to be fulfilled in order to be perfect in Karmayoga?

This booklet is a humble attempt at responding positively to some of these questions. The popular series of lectures of Swami Vivekananda on Karmayoga, delivered more than a hundred years ago, have been followed in their trail by a number of specialized views from scholarly monks of the Ramakrishna Order. This booklet adds another link to that chain. It is a revised and enlarged edition of a series of three editorials published in the December 1979, January 1980, and February 1980 issues of Prabuddha Bharata, the monthly journal of Ramakrishna Order started by Swami Vivekananda himself These editorials, born of deep insight and philosophical reflection, were from the pen of Swami Bhajananandaji, the then editor of Prabuddha Bharata, and presently an Assistant General Secretary, Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission, Belur Math. We are beholden to him not only for giving his consent to the publication of his articles in the form of the present book, but also for revising :heir contents thoroughly. Swami Kritarthananda, who is associated with the Research and Publication wing of our university, assisted Swami Bhajananandaji in this task. It is largely owing to Swami Kritarthananda’s tireless and one pointed effort that this book could see the light of day.

One of the major thrust areas of our new university, the Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda Educational and Research Institute (Deemed to be University), is Value Education based on India’s Cultural and Spiritual Heritage’. We propose to bring out a series of booklets in this area that would address vital issues relevant to the contemporary world in the light of our ancient Indian wisdom and Ramakrishna-Vivekananda philosophy. The present book is the first in this series and we ire delighted that a theme of universal importance as ‘Selfless Work’ could form the subject of the first book in the series. We believe that the present volume, enunciating the foundational principles of Karmayoga succinctly in the context of a number of relevant issues, is unique in its own way, and a precious k1dition to the philosophical and spiritual literature on Indian thought.

We fervently hope this valuable publication from the Research and Publication Division of our University on the time-honoured theme of Karmayoga or selfless work will serve s a helpful guide to many truth seakers in finding their way through the complexities of life to the abode of peace and higher fulfillment.

Preface To The Second Edition

The first editions of ‘Selfless Work’ was received with overwhelming enthusiasm and the stock was exhausted within a very short time. Hence the second edition of the book. In this edition the book has undergone some revision and change of format.


1The Perennial Labour of Sisyphus1
2What is Karma4
3Pravrtti and Nivrtti Marga: Karma and Karma Yoga7
4Meditation and Work10
5Sankara and Karma14
6Swami Vivekananda and Karma17
7Karna as Builder of Character20
8Two Highways of Karma Yoga22
9Karma and Consciousness26
10Nature of Bondage28
11Effects of Karma30
12Role of Will36
13Karma and Love38
14Karma Yoga and the Problem of Evil41
15Karma Yoga and Creativity44
16Fundamentals Principles of Karma Yoga46
17Karma Yoga and Buddhi Yoga50
18Conversion of Work into Karma Yoga52
19Auxiliary Disciplines of Karma Yoga54
20How to do Karma Yoga?60
21Work in Today's Context65
22Conclusion: The End and the Means68
Appendix: A Few Practical Hints69
References and Notes76
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