Friday, July 12, 2013


Krishna counselling Arjuna at Kurukshetra
Focus on the work in hand and not on the result and its outcome.


– do not think about the result or  its outcome just keep on doing your work. Thus spake the Gita or the Bhagwad Gita. To be specific this was what Krishna told the third Pandava – the warrior prince, Arjuna.

The Karma Yoga chapter of the Gita enunciates the principle of work – selfless work. But what does it really mean to say?

If one asks Andy Murray, the reigning Wimbledon and Olympic Champion, to go on training and participating in tennis tournaments without thinking of winning the Grand Slam, shall he adhere to it?

It was the beginning of the epic battle at Kurukshetra between the Kauravas and the Pandavas. Arjuna was the Commander-in-chief of the Pandava army. Krishna was Arjuna’s charioteer.

As Arjuna drove into the battle field, he looked at the rank and file of soldiers on both sides. He saw that he was going to fight against his own brothers, friends and revered teachers. He was appalled. He put down his arms and declined to fight.

Responding to Arjuna’s confusion and moral dilemma, Krishna explained his duties as a warrior and a prince and elaborated on a variety of philosophical concepts. He counselled Arjuna. Krishna imparted him wisdom, the path to devotion and the doctrine of selfless action.

The Bhagawad Gita, or simply, the Gita, begins here, at the start of the start of the war at Kurukshetra.  The Gita is a part of the Hindu epic the Mahabharata. It upholds the essence and theological tradition of the Upanishads.

In Karma Yoga, Krishna elucidates how the performance of prescribed duties, but without attachment to results, is the appropriate course of action for Arjuna.

The Karma Yoga upholds the necessity of action. However, this action is to be undertaken without any attachment to the work or desire for results. The Bhagwad Gita terms this “inaction in action and action in action.”

The concept of such detached action is also called “Nishkam Karma” or actions performed without desire. In the following verses, Krishna elaborates on the role actions performed without desire play in attaining freedom from material bondage and transmigration:

“To action alone hast thou a right and never at all to its fruits;
 let not the fruits of actions be thy motive;
 neither let there be in thee any attachment to inaction.”    

Way back in 2011, when Andy Murray roped in Ivan Lendl as his coach, did he focus on the result or he did so to improve his performance? The day Lendl started coaching Andy Murray was he certain that Andy, his pupil, will become the first British man to win the singles at Wimbledon in 77 years!

They fixed a goal and worked towards it. Day in and day out, training session after training session, they honed their skills, polished their technique, improved upon their fitness and hoped for a positive end.

When one embarks upon a project one has to look at the result. Result is of utmost importance.  The Sales Manager has to deliver sales. He has to increase revenue. Or else both he and the organisation he works for has to face the worst. In order to increase sales he has to work for it. He has to plan for it and execute the plan.

A sale is the outcome of the sales process. Winning or losing the Ashes is the outcome of the cricket series between England and the Aussies.

But one has to work towards it. One has to plan for his goal. One has to follow the plan. One has to execute the plan on field. 

It is like Algebra. If one follows the steps correctly, does not flounder with the digits and is strong in BODMAS the sum has to be correct. One must move step by step. Each step is important. Each step needs focus and extreme concentration. Each step has to be covered meticulously. The result, then, is sure to be favorable.

That is what Krishna said when he spoke to the warrior prince Arjuna about selfless work to focus on the work at hand and not to think about the outcome. If one works towards it, follows one’s steps diligently, without heeding to the result and its outcome, one is bound to succeed in one’s endeavor. 

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