Does the Gita’s instruction that we work without expecting results mean that we work without salaries?

by Chaitanya CharanFebruary 10, 2013

From: Mukund
When Krishna says, “Do your duty, without expecting results” – Karmanye Vaadhika-raste – does he mean we should do our job without expecting salaries? Isn’t it impractical? Or is my understanding of “Results” as “Salary” is incorrect?

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Chaitanya Charan
  • Mukul
    February 11, 2013 at 12:35 pm


    Not only is the idea that ‘result = salary’ inadequate & inappropriate here, but also the idea that ‘we should not expect results’ in not exactly what Krishna is saying!

    The exact Sanskrit over there is adhikaraste. Karmanevadhikaraste: On karma certainly, you have right, Mafaleshukadachan: but not on fruits, anytime. What this verse is saying that we don’t have right on the fruits.

    What it means?
    Bhagavad Gita is spoken on battlefield, to make Arjuna fight. and if Arjuna is not aiming to win the war then what will be the motivation to fight? It is a duty. That is true but even while doing the duty it is natural to some extent to expect some result. For Example, When parents are doing their duty of taking care of their children they expect some result; that their children would be good human beings and attain success in life.

    Similarly when war is fought we expect some results, but what Krishna is telling is that we should not think of ourselves as the doers of the job, in terms of being the producer of the result of the job. The remaining two parts of verse say, do not consider yourself to be the only producer of the work. In addition to this in verse 11.33, Krishna is telling Arjuna to be the doer ‘tasmat utishtha’ and Arjuna also confirms this in BG18.73 when he speaks ‘karishya vachanatav’.

    So the idea of Bhagavad Gita is not that we should be utterly unconcerned about the results. The idea is that we should not think that we are sole doer of the work but there are some higher factors involved by which we get the results. And if we get too obsessed with the results then not only will that distract us from our capacity to do work properly (if marathon runner keeps looking at the final line rather and ignoring how is he running and other techniques involved, similarly obsession from result can distract us from effectively working and keeping us always materially conscious. in some cases by visualizing the result by getting attracted to the results, some people might say that they would be able to work better by such a visualization) but also will keeps us materially conscious. And whole purpose of Bhagavad Gita is to rise above material consciousness to spiritual consciousness.

    The reason why duty is performed is because through detached performance of duty:
    if done at level of karma yoga , gyan arises
    if dome at level of bhakti yoga, then bhakti arises.

    That means if one has atmagyan, with it one performs the duty for the sake of purification then through purification one acquires knowledge. From knowledge one get realization that I not this body but I’m the soul. That comes only when one is detached. Thats how through Karma Yoga: Detached dutiful work leads to knowledge. And if you are doing it with the understanding that Krishna is god and we are his servants trying to render that duty as a devotional service to Krishna with whatever devotion we have, then the devotion itself will increase.

    This devotion will in turn bring (SB 1.2.7) knowledge and renunciation also. So essentially the message of Bhagavad Gita is that we should elevate our consciousness; and for that we perform duty. So we have to perform our duty in the best manner so that we can get the best results. As far as our concern as a devotee in doing our jobs; we want to do them best. We are representing Krishna. Devotees wants to be seen as competent responsible individuals. Because that is how people will be attracted to Krishna Consciousness.

    Then whatever work we are doing we do it well because we also offer the fruits to Krishna in whatever way and whatever capacity according to whatever circumstances we may be.

    But the primary idea is that the results can’t be just the salaries, but it can be in several other ways. Whatever form the result may take, we understand that we are not the sole producers of the result, because we understand that this body is a machine which is not in our control alone, in fact not at all in our control. However, Krishna gives us a little control through various agencies like demigods according to our karma. But any moment that control may go away. Just as the body is not in our control, the external environment is also not in our control and though we may try to do some work, the result might not be in our control.

    I may want to speak right now, but if my throat gets sore, i might not be able to speak. That is my body not being under my control. I may be willing to speak, but the computer or the recording device I’m using to record the answers stops working, then again i would not be able to do the work of answering the questions. So the work that we do, there are several factors beyond our control that contribute to bringing out that result.

    So an aware of this, and an aware that we are different from the world we are operating in, at the level of Karma yoga will bring atmagyan; and the awareness that Krishna is the controller of everything, will bring about bhakti,. So that is how the mood of whole Bhagavad Gita is how we raise our consciousness. And obsession with the results at a material level keeps our consciousness reverted and bound to the material level.

    Focusing on doing the duty well without being attached to the results and without letting our consciousness getting obsessed & locked in results but focusing on our spiritual identity and devotional service to Krishna; we can do the same activity in a way that will elevate our consciousness. That is the essential message of Bhagavad Gita through this verse, specifically and overall also.

    Thank you.

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