This secret of karmayoga, that has been described at length in the Gitã, has been presented very concisely by Bhagwan Swaminarayan in his discourses. He has described the karmas of a karmayogi as bhakti itself. His words are as follows, “After listening to all the scriptures, some people believe that they only deal with dharma, arth and kãm. Thinking thus, they themselves also perform pious karmas such as sacrifices, observances, etc., only for the attainment of dharma, arth and kãm. As a result, they enjoy the fruits of such karmas in Devlok, Brahmalok or Mrutyulok. Then, they return to the cycle of births and deaths. Therefore, the pious karmas that a person performs while harbouring a desire for dharma, arth and kãm, all become sãttvik, rãjasik and tãmasik; and the fruits of those karmas are enjoyed while staying in the realms of swarg, Mrutyulok and pãtãl. However, they do not attain the gunãtit abode of Paramãtmã. As long as one does not attain liberation, the miseries of births, deaths and narak do not subside.
“So, if one abandons the desire for the fruits related to dharma, arth and kãm, and if one performs pious karmas only to please Paramãtmã, then those pious karmas become a form of bhakti and aid in the attainment of liberation. Thus the verses:
Ãmayo yena bhootãnãm jãyate yash-cha suvrata,
Tad-eva hyãmayam dravyam na punãti chikitsitam.
Evam nrunãm kriyã-yogãhã sarve sansruti-hetavaha,
Ta evãtma-vinãshãya kalpante kalpitãhã pare.
“The essence of this verse is as I have described earlier.
“However, this fact is actually very intricate, and if it is not fully understood, then on seeing a devotee of Paramãtmã behaving in the same way as all ignorant people do, one would perceive flaws in him. As a result, the person who perceives the flaws would be consigned to narak.
“But in fact, there is a vast difference between the activities of a devotee of Paramãtmã and the activities of a non-believer. How? Well, all activities of a non-believer are for pampering his indriyas, whereas all activities of a devotee of Paramãtmã are solely for serving Paramãtmã and his devotee. As a result, the devotee’s activities are a form of bhakti.
“Moreover, bhakti is like jnãn in the sense that both are a form of non-karma. Hence, all of a devotee’s activities are in a form of karmas that do not cause attachment. Thus the verse in the Bhagavad Gitã:
Karmanyakarma yaha pashyed-akarmani cha karma yaha,
Sa buddhimãn-manushyeshu sa yuktaha krutsna-karma-krut.
“The meaning of this verse is as follows: ‘If a person sees non-karma, i.e. jnãn, in the karmas performed by the devotees of Paramãtmã for the purpose of pleasing Paramãtmã; and he sees a non-believer who has adopted the path of nivrutti as drowned in karmas, then such a person is said to possess jnãn and is the most intelligent amongst all people; he is a yogi; he is worthy to attain liberation and is ‘krutsna-karma-krut’ – i.e., he has performed all karmas’” (Vachanãmrut Gadhadã II 11).
The Lifestyle of Karmayogi Gurus
Every karma of the brahmaswarup guru is no mere karma, but has attained the status of karmayoga. This is why those karmas have become bhakti. Alongside the words of the Gitã, let us take a look at the lives of such karmayogi gurus.
The karmayoga of the Gitã was weaved into the life of Brahmaswarup Pramukh Swami Maharaj. All his actions were according to the commands of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and his gurus, Shastriji Maharaj and Yogiji Maharaj, and were done without ego to please them. Hundreds of sadhus and devotees saw this firsthand in him.
On 8 August 1986, in Vidyanagar, the youths had arranged a question and answer session with Pramukh Swami Maharaj. One of the questions asked was, “When we are given any responsibility regarding some activity, we become tense; whereas you are engaged in many activities and have many responsibilities, yet you seem as light as a flower. What is your secret?” In reply, Swamishri said, “The only secret is that we do not do anything. It is Paramãtmã who is doing it. It is Shastriji Maharaj and Yogiji Maharaj who are doing it. If we feel we are doing it, then the tension increases. We observe their commands. Whether the outcome is good or bad, Paramãtmã is the all-doer. By understanding this one thing, no burdens are felt.”
On 4 January 2002, Swamishri gave a spiritual discourse in the assembly in Ahmedabad. In reference to that, Vivekjivandas Swami said to Swamishri, “You gave a great discourse today. You speak very well.” Swamishri replied, “I do not know how to say anything. Whatever is said is by the inspiration of Paramãtmã.”
In January 2001, a horrendous earthquake shook Gujarat. There was much damage in Bhuj and other areas of Kutch. At the command of Swamishri, the sadhus and devotees tirelessly helped in every way possible. Swamishri himself would be up till late night, busy making arrangements for the needs of the victims. A few months later, Swamishri went to Dubai. There, many admirers who were deeply impressed by the relief work carried out by BAPS by the inspiration of Swamishri were present. On 6 April 2001, orators in a special assembly greatly praised Swamishri’s work. In that assembly, Swamishri addressed the audience in reference to the relief work saying, “An earthquake is a natural disaster. We have to overcome such calamities. We have faith in Paramãtmã that all will turn out well. At such a time, the work that BAPS has done is also according to the wishes of Paramãtmã. Moreover, it is Paramãtmã who inspired you to help too. The victims who have been helped, have also been helped by Paramãtmã’s wish alone. In fact, the calamity itself is by Paramãtmã’s wish. It is also by Paramãtmã’s wish that Bill Clinton readily came to offer help.” The words of the Gitã, ‘mayi sarvãni karmãni samnyasya’ resonated in each and every sentence of Swamishri’s address.
On 8 August 2002, Swamishri was in Ahmedabad. He was ill and had a fever. Nevertheless, after breakfast, he took some medicine and engaged himself in meetings. At 12.45p.m., the sadhus requested that he rest due to his illness. Swamishri said, “I’ll be alright.” The sadhus replied, “If there are non-stop meetings, when will you get rest?” Swamishri said, “Is only sleeping on a bed counted as rest? Look, I am sitting comfortably at ease.” The sadhus said, “If you have meetings while you are ill, it causes both physical and mental fatigue. In such circumstances, to make considered decisions seem like a burden to us.” Swamishri immediately replied, “One who takes the burden on his head would feel it. I take it from here and put it there.” Saying this, he picked up a towel on the table and put it down to one side. “I entrust everything to the care of Maharaj. Then where is the burden? No matter how many meetings occur and discussions take place, I present everything to him and am able to sleep immediately. Maharaj is the all-doer.”
This style of working, permeated by karmayoga, of the leader of a worldwide organization reveals the very secret of his success.
Bhagwan Swaminarayan insisted on such karmayoga. He gave the world true karmayogis. He adorned both householders and renunciates with karmayoga. He did not talk about fleeing society from fear, but he talked about staying in society and directing karmas in the right direction and in the right manner. In his followers, he firmly instilled the principle of how karmas become bhakti. The outcome has also been astounding. The paramhansas of Bhagwan Swaminarayan would spend eighteen to twenty hours a day engrossed in such karmas of bhakti and attain happiness in helping all. Hundreds of thousands of his devotees also learnt the secret of staying in society and practising karmayoga like King Janak did. Thus, their businesses or occupations could not impede them in any way. It is as though he inspired a movement towards karmayoga, and as a result, society made a spiritual turn.
Following in the footsteps of Pramukh Swami Maharaj, today, Mahant Swami Maharaj has continued to give society the gift of karmayogis. He is followed by a thousand karmayogi sadhus and hundreds of thousands of karmayogi devotees.
In this manner, the doctrine of karmayoga given in the Gitã has revealed the secret of making karmas the means to peace, happiness and liberation.