Friday 10 May 2024

Arise ! Awake ! - SVAKARMA

 – Dr. M. Lakshmi Kumari (Yuva Bharati, Special Commemorative Volume, May 1986)

After creating all the beauty, harmony and rhythm in the universe the Almighty has hidden himself in them, bequeathing to man the rare talent to seek Him and reach out to Him through his life and work. Man alone can make Divine the propelling force in his life, manifest that divinity and thereby discover true joy and fulfilment in living. For this, man is gifted with all that is necessary qualities in his make-up, natural propensities or svabhava which in turn find expression in svadharma. The two angles of triangle of life have been marked out and defined for him. Man has only to complete the clotted line with his svakarma, and be one with the Infinite. Unfortunately, not knowing the mystery of creation - for man, his life appears either an enigma or a nightmarish journey filled with misery and not what it should be, a joyous, soul filling self-revelation.
After making Arjuna realise the significance of Svadharma Krishna proceeds to explain how Svadharma should get blossomed in one's life through his actions done in the spirit of an offering, a worship and a sacrifice. One's faith in the Whole, our hopes and aspirations that uphold this faith, the manifestation of the Whole in its parts and the binding together of the parts into the Whole have all to be realised by man through his life's work When this is understood and accepted life with its manifold activities turns to be the unfoldment of a wonderful dream, a Cosmic Plan, which is given to us to fulfil. Every moment, every contact and every opportunity could then be turned into yet another harmonious note in the Universe Symphony. In the Gita, Krishna literally weaves for Arjuna this exquisite interpenetrating web of living, of man's thoughts, emotions and actions knowledge, love and work and emphasises the Oneness and interrelatedness of all that exists, an awareness of which alone can bring meaning to man's life. Thus if Svadbarma can be understood as the nut with which our lives are screwed on to the Universe Machine, Svakarma is the bolt which holds it fixed in position.
Man and his work go hand in hand. It is true that work can create bondage. But the same work can lead us to liberation as well. Sri Ramakrishna, uses a simple homely example to bring home this point, that of smearing the palms with oil before cleaning the jack fruit, or as an electrician who wears rubber gloves and works with high voltage electric wires and thus escapes the danger of being electrocuted. In the Gita, Sri Krishna illustrates how man can engage himself in every kind of action, yet escape its bondage.
Entire galaxies move in their celestial orbits according to a well-ordained plan. Plants and animals grow and develop following clear cut self-organising principles. Movement of atoms within and without also tell the same story of rhythm, harmony and order. Every cell in man obeys its own laws of growth. Man also grows, physically, mentally and intellectually thanks to the pulsating file principle within him. Yet, somewhere and somehow, man has slipped and lost his moorings and thinks himself the creator, sustainer and destroyer! He refuses to expand his awareness and taking the agency of his actions on to himself, burdened with the reactions and results created by his actions, he succumbs to the very burden of it all.
When and how does work become a bondage, is only when man starts imagining it is his work and develops an attachment to it. This is the result of man forgetting himself as a part of the Whole and trying to superimpose his identity and authority on his actions. It is then that work starts becoming a bondage. Every succeeding action only helps to tighten its claws and each turn brings more misery and more weariness. The 'I' ness or ego soon outgrows man who turns into a mere slave of his ego. This must have been going on God knows for how many births till at last he has totally lost his Self-awareness and become a slave of his worldly life and work.
The unwinding must start with oneself. First of all we must accept Him, the law behind all movement, the one Reality, the one Truth, by whatever name or form we may refer to Him whose self-revelation is all knowledge, all love and all work that we know of in this universe. All our faculties and capacities are given to us to know Him, seek Him out and glorify Him. How?
We must understand that our actions originate in our mind, in our desires and thoughts and that should be the point of intersection where we start from. We must develop the awareness of the real 'being' in us. For many of us we are nothing but a mass of influences, movements, forces, actions and reactions and nothing more. We begin to become a 'being' when we develop our will and learn to unify it. This unification should be centred in the Self-awareness. With this unified, focussed and centralised will, we can demand anything from God or from the world. A discerning one should then 'will' his actions in such a way that every movement becomes a recognition and acceptance of the Supreme Will.
The more we involve Him in our work, the easier it is for us to withdraw from it all and transform it into an offering and a sacrifice. If the awareness that He is all and His is every work and action, can slowly percolate into our thoughts, emotions and deeds, every thought turns into a prayer and work into an act of worship. Such a man finds himself to be just an instrument with no sense of agency, yet in total contact with the whole creation.

Swami Vivekananda sums it up thus"... you should work like a master and not as a slave, work incessantly, but do not do slave's work ninetynine percent of mankind work like slaves and the result is misery; it is all selfish work. Work through freedom...... work through love...... Love never comes until there is freedom... when we ourselves work for the things of the world as slaves there can be no love in us and our work is not true work". Aurobindo talks of true work thus- "There will be an insistent joy of labour for God in yourself and for God in all beings. Love is the crown of works and the crown of knowledge".
This is the picture of the perfect man of action that we should meditate upon and try to emulate-(MIND OF A MASTER, HANDS OF A SERVANT-PARTHASARATHY.) Master, friend and servant in one.

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मुक्तसंग्ङोऽनहंवादी धृत्युत्साहसमन्वित:।
सिद्ध‌‌यसिद्धयोर्निर्विकार: कर्ता सात्त्विक उच्यते ॥१८.२६॥

Freed from attachment, non-egoistic, endowed with courage and enthusiasm and unperturbed by success or failure, the worker is known as a pure (Sattvika) one. Four outstanding and essential qualities of a worker. - Bhagwad Gita : XVIII-26

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