yuktaha karmaphalam tyaktvaa shaantimaapnoti naishtikeem |
ayuktaha kaamakaarena phale sakto nibadhyate || 12 ||

One who is established in yoga, who has given up the result of action, attains everlasting peace. One who is not established in yoga, who has attachment to results due to desire, gets bound.

yuktaha : one established in yoga
karmaphalam : result of action
tyaktvaa : who has given up
shaantim : peace
aapnoti : attains
naishtikeem : everlasting
ayuktaha : one who is not established in yoga
kaamakaarena : due to desires
phale : results
saktaha : attachment
nibadhyate : gets bound

In this shloka, Shri Krishna compares and contrasts a karma yogi and a materialistic person. While both perform the very same action, and could very well get the same result, their attitude towards the work is different. One who follows karma yoga maintains the attitude that “I am not attached to the results”, whereas the materialistic person does not maintain this attitude.

The ignorant person does action for sake of the result. He does not find joy in work itself. If the result is favourable, he gets extremely elated. But this happiness, and in some instances, peace of mind, is temporary. The minute a result of actions becomes favourable, he gets extremely dejected and disappointed. But the karma yogi does not wait for the result of the action to give joy. He finds joy in the work. The peace that he attains is driven from within, rather than from without.

It is this mental attitude that differentiates the karma yogi from the materialistic person. The easiest way to gauge our progress towards karma yoga is to constantly monitor our state of mind. If we get agitated for long periods of time when we receive the result of our action, it is an indication that we have generated an attachment to the result, which in turn indicates that the ego is strong.

The words used to describe both types of seekers bear closer scrutiny. “Yuktaha” literally means yoked or established. In this context, yuktaha means one whose mind is yoked to the intellect. In other words, the mind is under the guidance of the intellect. In contrast, “ayuktaha” is one whose mind is not yoked to the intellect. It follows the direction of the mind and the senses. This difference in the orientation of the mind determines the fate of the seeker.

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