This is something that has bothered me for a long time. Modern Psychology says that motivation is required to do any action - be it to drink water (thirst is the motivation) or to crack exams (achieving good marks is the motivation). Whatever it is, modern Psychology seems to push a more goal-oriented lifestyle.

However, Karma Yoga seems to suggest the opposite. It tells us to do our job without any attachment to it or to think about its fruits. Isn't this absurd? Without a proper goal and motive, what will inspire a person to do anything? Bhagavad Gita tells us to take a disinterested view of our work. However Psychology says that passionate work, done with love, curiosity and emotions result in better work than disinterested work. A cloth made with love will be much more beautiful than a cloth made by a disinterested person (which is why sweets made by our grandma tastes better than cookies manufactures in bakeries).

So doesn't Bhagavad Gita go against Psychology in its suggestion of pursuing disinterested action? If employees start working without emotion in their work, in a cold disinterested fashion, it might lead to lower GDP growth as efficiency will naturally decrease.

  • Doesn't karmayog also tell to surrender all actions to God and do work with complete 𝙙𝙚𝙫𝙤𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣.What could be better motivation than to get moksha?? The greatest benefit on planet is to get paramaatma.
    – user32378
    Commented Feb 6 at 15:31
  • Also if you failed to complete desire won't you be depreesed, stressed. If a person loses his aim what can he do? This is also reason for suicidal of many(if they only want one main thing and can't get). Many gets addicted. Lastly, what about inner mental peace?
    – user32378
    Commented Feb 6 at 15:34
  • Moreover, you mixed karmyog and karmsanyas yog
    – user32378
    Commented Feb 6 at 15:37
  • Yes you are right, but so am I. Being passionate about an aim may lead to suicidal tendencies if the aim is not met. But so is being passionate directly correlated to good outcome and motivation. People excel in studies not by being disinterested and cold, but by being passionate. Einstein was passionate about Physics, not disinterested. That is why he could imagine so much. Disinterested action may work in factories not in modern workplace Commented Feb 6 at 16:32

4 Answers 4


Swami Vivekananda's view points can give one a great clarity on Karma Yoga Modern psychology might have overlooked some of important criterion

To work properly, therefore, you have first to give up the idea of attachment. Secondly, do not mix in the fray, hold yourself as a witness and go on working. My master used to say, "Look upon your children as a nurse does." The nurse will take your baby and fondle it and play with it and behave towards it as gently as if it were her own child; but as soon as you give her notice to quit, she is ready to start off bag and baggage from the house. Everything in the shape of attachment is forgotten; it will not give the ordinary nurse the least pang to leave your children and take up other children. Even so are you to be with all that you consider your own. You are the nurse, and if you believe in God, believe that all these things which you consider yours are really His...It is a weakness to think that any one is dependent on me, and that I can do good to another. This belief is the mother of all our attachment, and through this attachment comes all our pain. We must inform our minds that no one in this universe depends upon us; not one beggar depends on our charity; not one soul on our kindness; not one living thing on our help. All are helped on by nature, and will be so helped even though millions of us were not here. The course of nature will not stop for such as you and me; it is, as already pointed out, ... This is a great lesson to learn in life, and when we have learned it fully, we shall never be unhappy; we can go and mix without harm in society anywhere and everywhere The second point to consider is, what is the end of work? We find the vast majority of people in every country believing that there will be a time when this world will become perfect, when there will be no disease, nor death, nor unhappiness, nor wickedness. That is a very good idea, a very good motive power to inspire and uplift the ignorant; but if we think for a moment, we shall find on the very face of it that it cannot be so. How can it be, seeing that good and evil are the obverse and reverse of the same coin? How can you have good without evil at the same time? What is meant by perfection? A perfect life is a contradiction in terms. Life itself is a state of continuous struggle between ourselves and everything outside. Every moment we are fighting actually with external nature,Man thinks foolishly that he can make himself happy, and after years of struggle finds out at last that true happiness consists in killing selfishness and that no one can make him happy except himself
Swami Vivekananda,Chicago 1893


Doing a job without any attachment and without a proper goal/motive are two different things, and should not be confused as one. One should be mindful of the effects of Karma, but should not focus their mind on the reward which we may or may not get from it.

Let's take the classic example of a student preparing for their exam. If the student is in a constant thought of what will their result be, or what will happen if I don't score enough, the time available for preparation is wasted. As it is wisely said, "A second spent is a second gone forever". So the student should not get disinterested in their study, should be mindful for the resources and time which is available, and focus their efforts till the day of the examination, and should think about the future actions/plans only after the result is received; in this case even if the student doesn't get desired score, they know they have put in honest and sincere efforts and will continue doing so in other aspects of life. Such is the power of discipline and focus that cannot make one disinterested with the effects of their Karma.

We humans with our basic senses and with a motive to improve ourselves and our surroundings can achieve great heights. And that is what Karma Yoga is in its most basic form. As long as you are not harming any being intentionally or for your virtual/materialistic pleasure, and see positive work as a service to a being who has come from the Parmatma, you will receive guidance with time and the cycle of Karma will turn to your favour.

कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन।
मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते सङ्गोऽस्त्वकर्मणि॥

From Bhagvad Geeta Chapter 2 Verse 47

  • I thought being non-attached means complete cold emotional detachment from work. For example, if the student is studying for exams, Karma Yoga, imo, suggests that the kid is not allowed to like or love the subject as it would count as worldly pleasures. Commented Feb 6 at 16:23
  • Isn't doing something just for the sake of good karma, also against Karma Yoga? Commented Feb 6 at 16:36
  • The student is totally allowed to love the subject, and that in turn would enlighten the student to understand the power of the mind, nothing wrong in being passionate towards the collective study of so many minds across ages. Commented Feb 6 at 16:40
  • 1
    @SuradoeUchiha you can do good karma but don't expect anything in return. Bhagavad Gita 18.5 Actions based upon sacrifice, charity, and penance should never be abandoned; they must certainly be performed. Indeed, acts of sacrifice, charity, and penance are purifying even for those who are wise
    – user32378
    Commented Feb 6 at 16:41
  • 2
    @SuradoeUchiha First, nowhere in Bhagavad Gita or in other scriptures is said that you should not be emotionally attached to what you do. Bhagavad Gita clearly says do not be attached to the RESULTS/FRUITS of what you do. "....maa karmaPHALA heturbhu....." Example of how does that work in reality: people who pursue hobbies. mothers & fathers who do a lot of things for their children, and so on. So no, Hindu scriptures are not contradictory to modern psychology. Commented Feb 7 at 1:38

The motivation is to serve our Bhagavan/Mata. If you do everything with a motive, then little bit of lust and money can corrupt you. But if you hold on to doing the right thing - you will be unconquerable on the righteous path. Devotees say that the brain adjusys to loving without a reward, otherwise one may do things with the most reward only and goodness in the world will finish.


Okay let's say your motivated to drink water, but don't have access to water and die of thirst. Did you control the fact that place didn't have water. Similiarly, your may have been motivated to go their knwoing this may happen, but your plane could've crashed or miraciously you got water. This verse is saying focus on the present actions and what happens, happens if you did good work be proud of that.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .