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Ordinarily, work means productivity. It employs lesser resources to generate more material wealth. It is bringing about a change in the ratio of forces in the environment. It provides better living and comforts to the worker and to the community around him. But, it is not merely an opportunity to gain material wealth. It also fulfills the subtle aspirations of gaining recognition.
The focus of such work is 'Yogakshema': 'Yoga' meaning acquiring what one does not possess and 'Kshema' meaning preserving what one possesses. The motivators to this effort lie in 'Kama' and 'Raaga', an appetite or craving for what is not present and an attachment or pleasure felt for the objects available.
Man at work is not a mere Robot. He has an inner life. The result of work necessarily affects subjectively, both the worker and community of men around him.
The results may drive the worker to avarice, greed, agitation, jealousy, regret and the like, which eventually make him distorted and impure within. This is 'Jeeva-vikaara', ugliness within, 'Aatmamah naashanam', degeneration of self. On the other hand, it may develop in him love, compassion, fellowship, sacrifice and the like, which leads to the qualitative enrichment of inner life.
This is 'Jeeva-samskara', an education for culturing within - a profound growth; sanctifying inside, 'Aatma-suddhi', welfare of the self 'Aatmanah-shreyah' Such a worker is one in his thoughts, words and deeds. He is collected. He does not suffer from dichotomy.
If the work creates a community of men, who hate and fear one another, who are jealous, greedy, avaricious and discontented and who are used to physical comforts and lulled to lethargy and negligence, the community stands disintegrated and disoriented. It is 'Loka-naasha'. On the other hand, if it promotes fellowship, if it can result in the right exchange of thoughts, words and deeds, the community stands integrated. It is 'Loka-sangraha'.
The focus of work according to Gita is not merely 'Yoga-Kshema', the material wealth. This part of the result is bound to be there in any imaginative deployment of resources. Without this, even the 'Shareera-yaatra' journey from womb to the tomb itself becomes hard. The focus is then to be elevated to the two-fold objectives: 'Aatma-shuddi' and 'Loka sangraha' - enrichment of inner life and integrating the community around. What inspires the worker to such an action is love and compassion, 'Prema' and 'Karuna'
The Dharma that supports and sustains the world - holds it together and constitutes 'Aaatma-shuddhi and 'Loka sangraha'. The Great Lord of the universe is 'Avyaaja Karunamoorthi', one who is full of compassion. His will, His desire and His goal is 'Jeevasamsleaara and Lokasangraha'. Unfortunately, our will, our desire and our goal is limited to 'Yogakshema'. He holds a strong assurance: 'Yogakshemam Vahaamyaham!', “ I shall take care of acquisition and preservation for you" - and gives a dispassionate call to join Him in His endeavours of 'Lokasangraha'. The enlightened cultured citizens of the world join Him, by pursuing their work with the spirit of 'Yagnabhaava', by subordinating 'Yogakshema' to 'Lokasangraha'.
About the author
This article is written for the 'Vedanta Vani' magazine of Chinmaya Mission by B.Nagendra.