We are at the Kamala Pushkarini of Sri Kamalavalli Nachiyar temple, Urayur. Pushkarini means, a bath in that pond will cleanse all our sins and give us everlasting happiness. Pilgrims travel for holy bath in Ganges, Srirangam, etc,. If it was for a mere cleaning of the body, it could have as well be done in our house in tap water. Then why, this pond? This is associated with the Lord. It is in existence for many centuries. Many great people have bathed in this Pushkarini to wash away their sins. Shastras [Holy code books] prescribe the benefits one gains by taking bath in this pond. So, instead of taking bath anywhere, we take bath in this pond and attain happiness. A bath anywhere will clean our body, but a bath here will not only clean the body but also obtain Moksham for us. Why one cannot get moksham by bathing in tap water? Because no shastras or puranas or our elders have prescribed that. There must be a vidhi or guideline in the shastras. That is if we act according to the instructions of Vedas or shastras, we will get the benefits stipulated. We all do not lie or steal or harm other lives. Why? Because in the Vedas these are stipulated. Speak only the truth; perform righteously; regard mother, father, teacher and guests as God. All these are prescribed in the Vedas and so we follow those instructions. If we act as per the instructions of Vedas, we get the smaller benefits, as well as the supreme advantages. So, we now understand that any action can be done anywhere as per the instructions[of shastras] or otherwise. In the latter case we can never reap the best benefits. This is evident from the bath in this Pushkarini itself. A bath in any other place will only remove the physical dirt on the body while a bath in this pond will, with the blessings of Sri Kamalavalli Thayar, fetch Moksham also. So, our shastras mention. What is Karma yoga? It is eating, sleeping, working, etc. Nothing extra is required to be done. But these activities are to be done as prescribed in shastras. This is very important. If we do our activities according to the dos and don’ts of shastras, it is karmayoga. If we do karma yoga we are sure to attain Moksham. Shastras are instructions given by God. He has told that He liberates the one who faithfully follows His instructions. Once we have that belief that we are acting according to the stipulations of the Lord, He also will erase all our sins and make us to reach our natural state of happiness,Moksham. In these instructions one is asked to eat, sleep and work. Nowhere the shastras ask us not to do anything else. The person instructed [by shastras] could be a bachelor or married or sanyasin or a beast or bird. Whoever be, if the prescribed action is performed with a firm belief that this will yield Moksham, that result will be achieved. A bath in this pond with a belief that it will only remove my body dirt, then this action will not get Moksham. But same action with a firm belief that I will get Moksham, by bathing in this pond, will get Moksham. So a steadfast belief is to be there along with the vidhi. If we list the points to be noted for Karmayoga, it will be:
- Performing the duties stipulated by Vedas or by God.
- When doing that activity objective should not be for trivial or lower benefits but for supreme advantages.
- A firm belief that Karmayoga will yield Moksham.
With these, every activity, be it mere eating or sleeping or getting married or getting children, will all be Karma yoga. That is, the same routines performed earlier are to be done, with the feeling that these are prescribed by Sri Krishna and with an objective being on a higher plane. Gita does not teach what cannot be practiced in real life. These karmas or actions to be performed are classified in three categories:
- Nithya- to be practiced daily
- Naimithika- to be performed due to certain reasons or in certain occasions
- Kamya- to be performed to achieve certain goals like begetting children, success in exam, etc.
All these karmas or actions are stipulated. These have to be done uninterruptedly. Performing annual ceremonies [shraddham] for deceased forefathers [pithru], celebrating festivals, etc. are all Karma yoga. Why Sri Krishna is encouraging Arjuna to fight? Because it is stipulated for him. He is asked to do what he learnt. So, Karma yoga can be performed by anybody. Sri Krishna lauds the greatness of Karma yoga, thus:
pratyavayo na vidyate
sv-alpam apy asya dharmasya
trayate mahato bhayat
"In this endeavor [karma yoga] there is no loss or lessening for a little advancement on this path and can protect one from the most dangerous type of fear."
Just as we make a child to study by praising all the benefits on getting educated, Sri Krishna is inducing Arjuna on the advantages of Karma yoga. Sri Krishna says that after starting Karma yoga, if one stops, the benefits to that extent will be there always and when again continued, these benefits already accrued will be carried over. It is stipulated in shastras that one should not abandon karma halfway. If abandoned, harmful effects will seize the performer. Arjuna is scared on this point. Sri Krishna corrects him that stipulation was for performing activities for reaping smaller or lower results. Since, He is asking Arjuna to do the Karma yoga for Moksham, this fear is unfounded. So, with such a supreme objective when Karma yoga is performed, even a small fraction of it will protect from a very large fear, like rebirth.