Focus On Action And The Fruit Will Follow

Focus on action and the fruit will follow
July 31, 2018, 2:00 AM IST Speaking Tree in TOI Edit Page | Edit Page, India, Spirituality | TOI
By Janki Santoke

King Tutankhamen of ancient Egypt died at the age of 19. With no children of his own, those who succeeded him removed every trace of his existence. They even forbade the taking of his name. According to ancient Egyptians, a man lives as long as his name is spoken. They removed his statues and inscriptions. They put their own instead. They forbade his funeral rites. Disregarded in death and his tomb forgotten, Tutankhamen was deliberately erased from public memory.

Subsequently, for thousands of years, tomb raiders plundered the immense wealth interred in the Valley of Kings. All the tombs were laid bare. The only tomb that remained intact, forgotten, was Tutankhamen’s! When his tomb was discovered by Carter in the year 1922, its vast treasures over-awed the whole world. Even 3,300 years after his death, he is one of the most famous pharaohs of Egypt. This, despite all the efforts made by his adversaries to obliterate him from history. All their desires and expectations came to nought.

Is it not therefore, futile to get obsessed with craving for fruit? For time can wash it way in a moment. To want something, to believe one will get it and then one will be happy is pure ignorance. Such an expectation is unstable, flimsy and subject to factors well beyond one’s control. A chance, a random circumstance, can change the outcome and years of hard work can vanish. A sudden tsunami or maybe even an unlettered word can lead to a complete wipe out. The blissful life of Rama and Sita was shattered by a washerman’s gripe. The craving for fruit is the formula for angst, for tragedy.

But without fruit to reach out to, why would one work? Wouldn’t work be aimless without a fruit? If one sat in one’s car and had nowhere to go where would one drive to? Is a destination not required? Can one function without the expectation of a fruit?

The fruit or result is imperative to choose the right action. Without the direction provided by the fruit, action would become pointless, insane. To that extent, the outcome as goal is important. But when this goal becomes a craving, a longing, when it becomes a hook on which the happiness of life hinges, the fruit starts disturbing the action and life itself. The journey is anxious; the loss is heartbreaking.

Thus to work with fruit makes one unhappy. To work without fruit is to be aimless.

And therein lies the great teaching of the Bhagwad Gita. In Chapter VI verse 1, the Gita says: he who does his duty without craving for the fruit of action, he is a sanyasi; he is a yogi.

What is duty? Duties are those actions which take one to one’s goal. Thus having a goal is crucial. The ideal action has a goal or destination. But once the action starts, the goal should not be allowed to disturb one’s concentration. The entire focus is on the action, not the fruit. Like Arjuna, all one can see is the eye of the bird. Only the action exists. When all energy is thus directed to the action, the goal is achieved faster. And the journey is enjoyable! Ironically, forgetting the fruit is getting the fruit.