Yoga as Work in Devotion
We have heard the names of so many different yogas and yogis, but in Bhagavad-gita Krsna says that the actual yogi is he who has surrendered himself “fully unto Me.” Krsna proclaims that there is no difference between renunciation (sannyasa) and yoga.
“What is called renunciation is the same as yoga, or linking oneself with the Supreme; for no one can become a yogi unless he renounces the desire for sense gratification.” (Bg. 6.2)
In Bhagavad-gita there are three basic types of yoga delineated—karma-yoga, jnana-yoga and bhakti-yoga. The systems of yoga may be likened to a staircase. Someone may be on the first step, someone may be halfway up, or someone may be on the top step. When one is elevated to certain levels, he is known as a karma-yogi, jnana-yogi, etc. In all cases, the service to the Supreme Lord is the same. It is a difference in elevation only. Thus Sri Krsna tells Arjuna that he must understand that renunciation (sannyasa) and yoga are the same, because without being freed from desire and sense gratification one can become neither a yogi nor a sannyasi.
There are some yogis who perform yoga for a profit, but that is not real yoga. Everything must be engaged in the service of the Lord. Whatever we do as an ordinary worker or as a sannyasi or as a yogi or as a philosopher must be done in Krsna consciousness. When we are absorbed in the thought of serving Krsna and when we act in that consciousness, we can become real sannyasis and real yogis. for those who are taking the first step up the staircase of the yoga system, there is work. One should not think that simply because he is beginning yoga he should stop working. In Bhagavad-gita Krsna asks Arjuna to become a yogi, but He never tells him to cease from fighting. Quite the contrary. Of course, one may ask how a person may be a yogi and at the same time a warrior. Our conception of yoga practice is that of sitting very straight, with legs crossed and eyes half-closed, staring at the tip of our nose and concentrating in this way in a lonely place. So how is it that Krsna is asking Arjuna to become a yogi and at the same time participate in a ghastly civil war? That is the mystery of Bhagavad-gita: one can remain a fighting man and at the same time be the highest yogi, the highest sannyasi. How is this possible? In Krsna consciousness. One simply has to fight for Krsna, work for Krsna, eat for Krsna, sleep for Krsna and dedicate all activities to Krsna. In this way one becomes the highest yogi and the highest sannyasi. That is the secret.
In the Sixth Chapter of Bhagavad-gita, Sri Krsna instructs Arjuna how to perform meditational yoga, but Arjuna rejects this as too difficult. How then is Arjuna considered to be a great yogi? Although Krsna saw that Arjuna was rejecting the meditational system, He proclaimed Arjuna to be the highest yogi because “You are always thinking of Me.” Thinking of Krsna is the essence of all yoga systems—of the hatha, karma, jnana, bhakti or any other system of yoga, sacrifice or charity. All the recommended activities for spiritual realization end in Krsna consciousness, in thinking always of Krsna. The actual perfection of human life lies in being always Krsna conscious and always being aware of Krsna while performing all types of activities.
In the preliminary stage one is advised to always work for Krsna. One must be always searching out some duty or some engagement, for it is a bad policy to remain idle even for a second. When one actually becomes advanced through such engagements, then he may not work physically, but he is always engaged within by constantly thinking of Krsna. In the preliminary stage, however, one is always advised to engage one’s senses in the service of Krsna. There are a variety of activities one can perform in serving Krsna. The International Society for Krishna Consciousness is intended to help direct aspirant devotees in these activities. for those working in Krsna consciousness, there are simply not enough hours in the day to serve Krsna. There are always activities, engagements both day and night, which the student of Krsna consciousness performs joyfully. That is the stage of real happiness—constant engagement for Krsna and spreading Krsna consciousness around the world. In the material world one may become very tired if he works all the time, but if one works in Krsna consciousness, he can chant Hare Krsna and engage in devotional service twenty-four hours a day and never get tired. But if we vibrate some mundane vibration, then we soon become exhausted. There is no question of becoming tired on the spiritual platform. The spiritual platform is absolute. In the material world everyone is working for sense gratification. The profits of one’s labor in the material world are used to gratify one’s senses. But a real yogi does not desire such fruits. He has no desire other than Krsna, and Krsna is already there.
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