"Your right is to work only and never to the fruit thereof. Do not be the cause of the fruit of action; nor let your attachment be to inaction." - Bhagvad Gita, Gita Press 2.46

I accept that Nishkaam karma (which I understand as doing work for non selfish reasons) is possible. But how so, I do not understand-perhaps because of my ignorance.

In Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, Yagnavalkya had said to Maitreyi in IV.5.6. (The Principal Upanishads- S Radhakrishnan) that "Verily, not for the sake of the Vedas are the Vedas dear but for the sake of the Self are the Vedas dear" and similarly for gods, family, wealth etc. Isnt that hinting towards selfishness ("for the sake of the Self")?

And also, isnt the establishment of Dharma as done by Arjun in the Dharmayuddha also a desire? What about the Purushartha Artha? Are only good (Dharma aligned) desires to be kept, as said in one of the books of the Arya Samaji books, or are all desires to be vanquished?

Should we not keep a track of the probable result of our work? Imagine that I am studying something, or just working endlessly on something that is bound to harm the society (and is hence Adharmic karma), and I keep on doing that, because Bhagvaan Krishna has said not to think about the result. Or, say I do a business transaction, and it results in loss, but I never thought of the financial implications while doing the act, because of the philosophy of Nishkaam karma yoga.Shouldnt I think about the result of the karma and then start doing the karma after weighing the pros and cons? Isnt there a contradiction between this philosophy and reality? wont efficiency arise from result oriented actions?

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    this is a common misconception. if i don't think about results how do i know whether i'm doing my work properly or not ? if i play cricket and keep getting duck out every time because i don't care about winning, it means i'm not doing my duty properly. what Krishna says is - do your duty amazingly, but take pleasure in doing the duty itself, because that duty is prescribed by shastras, because doing that duty will please Bhagavan and that should be your end goal/result. in other words, don't do it for your pleasure, do it for bhagavan's pleasure.
    – ram
    Commented Feb 16, 2023 at 4:59
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    if for some reason, doing that duty itself doesn't give you pleasure, and you're doing it for the sake of its results, then you are not doing karma yoga, but karma, which means, be prepared to be bound mentally and physically by its results, good or bad. there is no other way for any action we do even the next breath you take, the next meal you take or the next word you read - it's either karma if done for yourself, or karma yoga if done for bhagavan.
    – ram
    Commented Feb 16, 2023 at 5:00
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    imagine this - you took a loan, then you do job, earn money and repay that loan. once loan is repaid, you're peaceful, right ? but if u take new loan, then you have to work until you repay that. what karma yoga says is - you already took a loan when you decided to take birth. you may not remember it. so, keep working, but only to repay that loan. don't take new loans, and don't enjoy money from your work, cos then you won't be able to repay loan. and even if you repay it, you are enticed to take new loans cos of past memory of enjoyment (vasana). work in world only to repay loan then get out.
    – ram
    Commented Feb 16, 2023 at 5:03


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