Sri Matre Namaha
Nishkama – The One Hundred & Fourty Second name in Lalitha Sahasranamam.
She who does not have any desires
nirgatah kamah (=iccha) yasyah s
She who is free from all desires
niskam amati (=gacchati) sa
One who puts on golden necklace
She is without desire. This is the reason for the previous nama. When you have desires you cannot be calm. The explanations given in certain texts that She is without desire because all Her desires have been fulfilled is wrong and cannot be accepted. When we are talking about Her nirguna form, there is no question of ‘Her desires’ at all. Brahman cannot have any desires and this has been confirmed in earlier namas. These namas are in line with Brahadarayaka Upanishad II.iii.6 which says ‘neti neti’ meaning not this, not this. The Upanishad is zeroing on the Brahman by negating many known qualities. Finally this verse says ‘satyasya satyam’ meaning Truth of truth. It has identified truth as one of the qualities of the Brahman. This nama is in confirmation of Her Brahman status.
Very often we mistake God to be a desiring authority of all our actions and we are often led to think the same,but let me assure you that Devi wants us to do things responsibly and she helps uus find our way through our karma and provides us the salvation that every soul seeks and yearns for.She provides us with several lessons on this path and teaches us the glory of it and she herself does not expect anything from us in return for the lessons she has taught us.So bearing this in mind let us find our way of nishkama.
In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna exhorts King Arjuna to fight the war of Dharma with their cousins King Duryodhana. He emphasizes upon the fact that it is not a fighting between relatives or Human Beings but it is a fight between Truthfulness and Adharma.
As per Bhagvad Gita shloka VIII-7 King Duryodhana was not following the settled rules of the society there was no other way than to fight him. King Arjuna could not accept this statement of Lord Krishna and retorts that it would be totally unbecoming of him to be the cause of murder of his innocent relatives.
As King Duryodhana was totally not agreeable to what was being said by Lord Krishna … Lord Krishna again emphasizes upon King Arjuna that it is not he who would be fighting the war but it would just be the garb of his own atman (the self within) that would carry out its duties in the times of war. As a King one has to fight the war to save the kingdom … the interest of his subjects came first and then come relatives and friends. As long as we continue to think of our physical self as the real self … we are far away from truth.
As stated in Bhagvad Gita shloka VIII-7 Lord Krishna also emphasizes that having developed full Faith in existence of god … one must leave matters in the hands of the Almighty God … this does not mean that we do not complete our daily chores but we must continue doing everything as the fruits of our Karma shall be a property of our atman the soul within.
Once we are devoid of I of senses and the mind … then only we shall be able to perform Nishkama Karma … that means performing Karma with an unattached attitude. Once there is no binding with the Karma we are performing … there is nothing left but for God to accept our prayers.
The war of Dharma (the requisite of the day) can only be performed by Nishkama Karma. Having taken control of senses and subsequently the mind … can we hope for attaining the stage of Nirvikalpa Samadhi! This is very essential on the path of spirituality as nothing worthy can be accomplished without performing Nishkama Karma.
Lord Krishna knew the moment this concept of Nishkama Karma and the war of Dharma is clear to King Arjuna … there shall remain no element of doubt in performing the war. Lord Krishna again and again pokes King Arjuna for declaring the war she in the name of God Almighty of the cosmos.
As stated in Bhagvad Gita shloka VIII-7 Lord Krishna also exhorts that every Human Being must submit one day or the other to God Almighty … by doing this no ill can ever befall the kingdom. It was a must to succeed in Life and also the war field. In the name of Dharma Lord Krishna calls upon King Arjuna to start the war of Dharma. By doing this is he emphasized that peace will prevail all over the kingdom and all uncertainties would come to an end.
You constantly keep on asking for material things in your life. This is not a sin, though you must never be attached to the end result of your demands. You must never be attached to action itself. Detachment means non-ego involvement, freedom from the bonds of desire. Actions must be performed in a state of perfect detachment and consecrating their fruit to the Almighty. This means that you must abandon yourself to the Will of God. However you should never be conformist, always try to do your best in order to attain success in everything you do, want or need in life, but at all times try to accept your destiny as part of God’s Will. This is the only way to be near God’s Light at all times. Keep in mind that actions must always be of a positive nature in order to experiment a true state of complete communion with the Supreme. Sometimes you create a dark destiny by acting wrongfully. This is not precisely God’s Will. For example, if you drive carelessly, at a very high speed, then you might have an accident. In this case you reap what you sow.
In the field of action desire takes many forms, but one of the most powerful of all is the vital self’s craving or seeking after the fruit of our works. The fruit we covet may be a reward of internal pleasure; it may be the accomplishment of some preferred idea or some cherished will, or the satisfaction of the egoistic emotions, or else the pride of success of our highest hopes and ambitions. Or it may be an external reward, a recompense entirely material -wealth, power, position, honor, victory, good fortune or any other fulfillment of vital or physical desire. But all alike, are lures by which egoism holds us. Remember that this kind of action severely interferes with our spiritual growth. Therefore, the first rule of action laid down by the Bhagavad Gita -Hindu sacred text- is to do the work that should be done without any desire for the fruit, nishkama karma. It is very difficult for the ordinary human being to decide on something and then to do it purely for its own sake. Yet it is precisely this attitude that is required for attaining spiritual liberation.
Nishkama karma doesn’t mean to be indifferent towards the action that you perform. On the contrary, it requires maximum attention and total responsibility. It is said man has the Dharma -duty to act, but the results of his actions are in God’s hands. We must remember never to be attached to the end results of our actions, because this might severely interfere with our spiritual growth.
According to the Vedas, sacred literature of Hinduism, only by performing akarmaka, actions for their own sake, can the individual attain spiritual liberation from the samsara -cycle of birth and death.
Each individual must radiate love and be ready for thyaga -sacrifice. Only such an individual will be able to evolve at a tremendous speed. A seeker of Truth must become a thyagi, person ready to sacrifice for others. Through sacrifice and the grace of God or the grace or a spiritually realized Guru, the seeker can attain wisdom.
In chapters 2 and 3 of the Bhagavad Gita we can find a complete explanation on nishkama karma:
47 I shall now describe nishkama karma yoga, the path of selfless action. You have a right to perform your natural prescribed duties, but you are not entitled to any fruits of that action. You should neither act with desire to enjoy the fruits of your work, nor, as a result, should you be attached to neglecting your duties.
48 Oh Dhananjaya, after giving up desire for the fruits of action, situate yourself on the path of devotion -bhakti yoga. Equally disposed to success and failure, carry out the duties prescribed according to your nature. To remain equipoised in either success or failure of the outcome of action, is certainly known as yoga.
49 Oh Dhananjaya, fruitive action is extremely abominable in comparison to Buddha yoga, or equilibrium in selfless action. Those who crave the fruits of their actions are misers -they are impoverished, being full of desires. Therefore, take shelter of the intelligence of which selfless action is the aim and objective.
50 A person who is not motivated by desire to enjoy the fruits of his actions, rids himself of both good and bad deeds within this very life. Engage, therefore, in the path of selfless action, since such Buddhi yoga, or equilibrium in selfless action, is certainly the art of action.
51 Wise men of steady intelligence liberate themselves from the bondage of birth, by renouncing the fruits born of action. Thus, they enter into that state of divine tranquillity which is attainable only by the devotees.
9 Selfless duty performed as an offering to the Supreme Lord is called yajna, or sacrifice. Oh Arjuna, all action performed for any other purpose is the cause of bondage in this World of repeated birth and death. Therefore, remaining unattached to the fruits of action, perform all your duties in the spirit of such sacrifice. Such action is the means of entering the path of devotion, and with the awakening of true perception of the Lord, it will enable you to attain to pure, unalloyed devotion, free from all material qualities -nirguna bhakti.
According to the Book of Matthew, in the Christian Bible, we can find a description on the correct way to perform actions:
Matthew 6:1 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.
2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward.
3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:
4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.
5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
We can reach to the conclusion that all deeds that we do exalting our ego, will be an obstacle in our spiritual evolution. Christ expressed that people were having their reward of internal pleasure. Because of their ego, they were feeling superior to others, but obviously this reward is detrimental to their evolutionary process.
There is one power which has the ability to transform ego, and that is love. We must always be ready to sacrifice our interests for the well being of others acting in a genuinely selfless manner. We must try to comprehend and accept every living soul as it is with its vices and virtues. This is much harder to achieve when a family member is involved, but we must be very strong in mind and have a mighty will power, in order to do things in a proper way. Also we must always accept every event in life, whatever be the nature of it, good or bad. In visions, I have seen that if we do not accept everyone as it is, and also if we do not receive every event in life with humbleness, love and optimism, then this will estrange us from God’s Light and our evolution will be retarded.
A real spiritual man must see all men with an equal love and consideration, be they friends, foes or any kind of people. The seeker must have equal vision, all of them should be equally important to him. He must treat everyone with the same warmth and love. His love should know no distinction between the righteous and the unrighteous, the good and the bad. To him a sinner is but an ego living who has not yet understand the spiritual path. Let us be comprehensive towards our fellow men.
In the Christian Bible, Christ stated:
Matthew 5:43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy.
44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
According to Buddhism, we should always perform selfless actions giving up desire for its fruits. The cessation of personal, ego consciousness causes the cessation of rebirth, attaining what Buddha called Nirvana -spiritual liberation.
Happily the peaceful live, giving up victory and defeat. (Dhammapada, V 201)
In page 62 of the book, “How to know God: The Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali,” Patanjali Maharshi declares, “What is the simplest way to acquire non-attachment to the desires, objects and ambitions of this world? We must begin by cultivating attachment to the highest object we can conceive of, to God himself… Through this service and this love, non-attachment to other, lesser loves and objectives comes naturally. It is not that we become indifferent to other people or to our own work and duties. But our love for others is included in our love for our ideal; it ceases to be exclusive and possessive.”
Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, great Indian sage, said: “A man is able to see God as soon as he gets rid of ego and other limitations. He sees God as soon as he is free from such feelings as “I am a scholar,” “I am the son of such and such a person,” “I am wealthy,” “I am honorable,” “I am a very famous physician,” “I am one of the best lawyers in the World,” and so forth.
There are many types of seekers of truth. Bhakta -person who is seeking spiritual realization through devotion towards God practicing worship and prayer to the Almighty, jnani -wise soul enlightened by darshans (spiritual visions) with the power to see past, present and future- and yogi -person that seeks spiritual realization through physical exercises, meditation and respiration techniques. All are satvic -nature of the soul with a great tendency to spiritual purity and selflessness. But with their satvic nature of purity, a fault can befall them -satvikahanta, the pride of the satvic. Unwittingly one might feel proud of his own virtue and selflessness. In a way this has become a universal phenomenon. A person that is egocentric, or even that is proud of its own virtue and selflessness, hinders its spiritual evolution. Ego is the archenemy on the path of Self-realization. So try to be very careful in performing actions devoid of egotism, or you will be building obstacles in your evolution.
So by being nishkama Devi teaches us to practice nishkama in our daily life so as to reach her and attain salvation.