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Nishkama Karma


The literal meaning of nishkama karma is "desireless action," i.e., selfless action.

More generally, it means action performed without desiring or fearing the consequences; action performed with indifference to the outcome.

It's used to describe the practice of doing actions without any expectation of the fruits (results or reactions or effects).

Nishkama Karma Yoga is another name for Karma Yoga, which is one of the main themes of the Bhagavad Gita.

The following passage records how Sri Ramana Maharshi once demonstrated nishkama karma:

Mr. Rangachari, a Telugu pandit in Voorhees' College of Vellore, asked about nishkama karma. There was no reply. After a time Sri Bhagavan [Ramana] went up the hill and a few followed him, including the pandit. There was a thorny stick lying on the way which Sri Bhagavan picked up; he sat down and began leisurely to work at it [sic]. The thorns were cut off, the knots were made smooth, the whole stick was polished with a rough leaf. The whole operation took about six hours. Everyone was wondering at the fine appearance of the stick made of a spiky material. A shepherd boy put in his appearance on the way as the group moved off. He had lost his stick and was at a loss. Sri Bhagavan immediately gave the new one in his hand to the boy and passed on.

The pandit said that this was the matter-of-fact answer to his question.

From Talks With Sri Ramana Maharshi, page 109


Essence of Yoga

By Sri Swami Sivananda
Nishkama Karma Yoga is discussed in Chapter 2. This is on the web.


This page was published on January 17, 2000

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