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Please, could you give a practical example of how to live daily life with nishkama karma vs nishkarmata (akarma).

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  • Actually, NishkAma Karma has been defined according to philosophical systems differently. For example, Karma Yoga in Kashmiri Shaivism is different from Karma Yoga of Vedanta. Which version you want? – Mr. Sigma. Oct 19 '17 at 16:18
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    @Rohit. What is the difference between the Kashmiri Shaivite notion of Karma Yoga and the Vedanta notion of Karma Yoga? – Keshav Srinivasan Oct 19 '17 at 22:24
  • karma - doing things. akarma - not doing things. vikarma - doing adharmic things. nishkama karma - doing dharmic things with no desire to enjoy its fruits. e.g. karma - eating. akarma - not eating. vikarma - eating before bathing. nishkama karma - eating (after bathing), not for taste, but for the purpose of using that energy to earn money to help your family or the poor. – ram Dec 29 '17 at 1:20
  • @KeshavSrinivasan In Vedanta, Karma Yoga is performing actions without the expectations of rewards but in Kashmiri Shaivism, Karma Yoga means performing actions and contemplating on Shiva always simultaneously. – Surya Kanta Bose Chowdhury Feb 17 at 6:25
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From Hinduism point of view Karma is always Superior than Akarma or inaction. Hinduism scriptures encourage us to perform our actions without attacting ourselves to fruits of those actions or karmas. In Bhagvat Gita this Karma-Yoga is described. And the scriptures support the point of doing karma over Akarma. Actions can be performed physically, mentally, and spiritually.


Upanishds also are encouraging us to do our karmas. Upanishads advices us to perform our actions (karmas) without attaching to the fruits of action

Here Isha Upanishad giving same message to us .

It's said in opening verses of this upanishad that in this world there is no options , no other road than doing our own karmas with Niskama (non-attachment) bhava (sense). And it's because of this Niskam Bhava we will be free from the taint of actions.’ or our all our negetive actions.

कुर्वन्नेवेह कर्माणि जिजीविषेत् सतं समाः।
एवं त्वयि नान्यथेतोऽस्ति न कर्म लिप्यते नरे…।।

kurvanneveha karmāṇi jijīviṣet sataṃ samāḥ
evaṃ tvayi nānyatheto'sti na karma lipyate nare…

(2nd Mantra, Isha Upanishad)

‘In the world, one should desire to live a hundred years, but only by performing actions. Thus, and in no other way, can man be free from the taint of actions.

Here Upanishad is declaring the superiority of Karma or action from Akarma or non action.You can also become free from the burden of karma by not seeking the fruit of your actions. In other words, you should perform actions without expectations and without worrying about the outcome, leaving them to God or your soul. But doing karmas alone and not by Inaction.

ईशावास्यमिदं सर्वं यत्किञ्च जगत्यां जगत् ।
तेन त्यक्तेन भुञ्जीथा मा गृधः कस्यस्विद्धनम् ॥1।।

īśāvāsyamidaṃ sarvaṃ yatkiñca jagatyāṃ jagat | 
tena tyaktena bhuñjīthā mā gṛdhaḥ kasyasviddhanam ||

(1st Mantra, Isha-Upanishad)

‘Whatever there is changeful in this ephemeral world, all that must be enveloped by the Lord. By this renunciation, support yourself. Do not covet the wealth of anyone.’


This is further confirmed in Shreemad Bhagvatam Skandha 11 Chapter ,which is about Gya ,Karma and Bhakti Yoga that one should always prefer Karma Over Akarma. Here Shree krishna says that he himself presented three paths Gyan ,Karma & Bhakti for the humans to achieve perfection and there is no other way than this.

भगवान उवाच
योगास्त्रयो मया प्रोक्ता नृणां श्रेयोविधित्सया।
ज्ञानं कर्म च भक्तिश्च नोपायोsन्योsस्ति कुत्रचित्।।6।।

śrī-bhagavān uvāca
yogās trayo mayā proktā
nṝṇāḿ śreyo-vidhitsayā
jñānaḿ karma ca bhaktiś ca
nopāyo 'nyo 'sti kutracit

The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: My dear Uddhava, because I desire that human beings may achieve perfection, I have presented three paths of advancement — the path of knowledge, the path of work and the path of devotion. Besides these three there is absolutely no other means of elevation.SB 11.20.6

He further says

तावत् कर्माणि। कुर्वीत न निर्विद्येत यावता।
मत्कथाश्रवणादौ वा श्रद्धा यावन्न जायते।।9।।

tāvat karmāṇi kurvīta
na nirvidyeta yāvatā
mat-kathā-śravaṇādau vā
śraddhā yāvan na jāyate

As long as one is not satiated by fruitive activity and has not awakened his taste for devotional service by śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ, one has to act according to the regulative principles of the Vedic injunctions.SB 11.20.9

i.e. perform actions/karmas until Vairagya Bhava emerges in man.

Note-This Shloka is about general karmas (action) and not only about vaidik karmas alone


Here Shreemad Bhagvat Gita 2.49.is also sayings that Nishkaam Karma is far more superior and indirectly supporting the Karma over Akarma.

दूरेण ह्यवरं कर्म बुद्धियोगाद्धनञ्जय ।
बुद्धौ शरणमन्विच्छ कृपणाः फलहेतवः ॥2.49।।

dūreṇa hyavaraṃ karma
buddhiyogāddhanañjaya |
buddhau śaraṇamanviccha kṛpaṇāḥ phalahetavaḥ ||

‘Work (done with selfish desire) is far inferior, O Arjuna, to that done with a detached reason. Small-minded are they who are motivated by selfish results.BG 2.49

Conclusion- So it's clear from the above shlokas that according to Hinduism Niskam Karma is better way of living than Nishkriyata.(inaction) & is not recommended.

Example ;In shreemad Bhagvat Gita Lord Shree Krishna advices Arjuna about carrying out his duty i.e. work , remembering him always. i.e. Working / fighting with offering the fruits to supreme lord (Nishkam Karma.)

तस्मात्सर्वेषु कालेषु मामनुस्मर युध्य च
मय्यर्पितमनोबुद्धिर्मामेवैष्यस्यसंशयम्।।8.7।।

tasmāt sarveṣu kāleṣu
mām anusmara yudhya ca
mayy arpita-mano-buddhir
mām evaiṣyasy asaḿśayaḥ

Here is English Translation of Shree Ramanuja's Sanskrit Commentary of above verse By Swami Adidevananda.


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As linked in comment, following explains the difference between: NishKAma karma vs NishkarmatA (Akarma).

  • NishKAma karma is karma yoga, where one does karma without desires (kAma)
  • NishkarmatA or Akarma is sannyAsa, where one retires from various activities & making the choice minimal

Here is Krishna's pesonal opinion:

BG 5.2 — Sri BhagavAna told, SannyAsa and Karma Yoga, both are excellent do-ers; but between them, Karma Yoga is better than Karma SannyAsa (Akarma based).

You may further read this answer, to know how these terms are closely interlinked. Both these terms, lead to each others

  • Hi Milind Thank you! Is understanding below correct and per scriptures, will it lead to moksha, and How would you improve this method below: "wake up, start accepting "what is", sleep". That's all. Whether rain or son smoking, start accepting "what is already happening in prakriti" as act of nature under triguna. One can tell if they are really accepting all acts as acts of nature as if done truly it will create neither pleasure nor pain,like accepting rain-due to no pleasure, pain, rajas, any action necessary on "what is" (smoking) based on swadharma wont create karma and could lead to moksha – Sanjeev Oct 19 '17 at 21:58
  • @Sanjeev, though little unclear, What you stated in your comment seems true. Every decision, action, reaction, etc. happens in nature due to 3 modes of Prakruti. If this is well understood & well remembered then one becomes disinterested & detached .. & hence free. Such self realised person when dies, will not reborn in any plane. Will be completely vanished to nothingness. Hence liberated (Moksha). – iammilind Oct 20 '17 at 1:44
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Nishkarmata is impossible. Because, physical and psychological activity is karma. Life without karma is impossible.

Nishkama Karma refers to the performance of activities with complete detachment, that is to say, to have no anticipation whatsoever in each seed one performs. This does not attach the effect of karma to the performer. Hence this is the best way to live the life of a Karma yogi.

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