Lord Krishna’s philosophy of work remains one of the most universal and profound explanations of why a man needs to work.The strength of Lord Krishna’s message in ‘Bhagwad Gita’ lies in its ability to relate an individual’s relationship with the society in a comprehensive manner.Lord Krishna places high priority on one’s ability to do Karma (Action) and to continuously pursue wisdom(Gyana) during one’s lifetime. But where Lord Krishna goes beyond western thinkers like Karl Marx is in his ability to view Action and Knowledge as an end in itself rather than a means to an end. In Lord Krishna’s words, Action itself is reward and hence, whatever is the reward is immaterial because the only duty of man is to do Karma and constantly increase one’s sphere of consciousness.
What appears to be attachment to Karl Marx , appears to be detachment to Lord Krishna. Karl Marx says that a man is attached to his work and finds his identity in his work.Through work, a man is able to give form to his humanly powers of creativity and knowledge.This ability of man to be creative and productive is what differentiates him from other animals.Since in his work a man sees himself, so he should have ownership over the reward of that work.However, a capitalistic society commodifies the work of a man and sells it at a price. Since, a man gets separated from his work , he feels alienated and feels deprived of his human powers of innovation and creativity.Thus, according to Marx, the ownership and distribution of reward is important for a man to feel human and peaceful.
On the contrary,Lord Krishna says that reward is never in the hands of the man and what is in the hands of the man is karma and wisdom.Further, according to him, work is a duty to god and not a means to get reward. He stresses that when selfishness creeps into karma, it loses its divine character. He feels that an individual should appreciate the fact that good of an individual lies in the good of society.Thus, his every action should be driven by societal good. Lord Krishna emphasizes on ‘Detached Involvement’ and ‘Value Ethics’. A man should be involved in his work and at the same time, he should be detached from the consequences of his work. Doing action itself is an act of reward. Secondly,the karma has to be driven by value ethics of justice, honesty, dignity and empathy.Thus, any fight if it has to be, then it has to be on the basis of value ethics and not purely on the basis of economic inequality.
Karl Marx, on other hand, encourages the working class(Proletariat) to fight against the landed class(Bourgeois) and put an end to material inequality. This, perhaps is the weakest point of communism and strongest point of Lord Krishna’s philosophy. Karl Marx feels that removal of material inequality will create an egalitarian society whereas Lord Krishna feels it is upholding of societal values that will create an egalitarian society.The whole war of Mahabharata was nothing but a battle of elite over the value ethics. All the warring members belonged to the same family and yet, were on the opposite side of the battle field. Further, had Arjuna followed the principle of attachment, he would have never participated in the war.The consequences of his action were painful at individual level but in tune with societal good.
Incidentally, modern world is yet to realize the power of Lord Krishna’s philosophy of work.The man’s inability to deal with success and failure clearly shows that man is yet to move beyond success and failure and appreciate the strength of Nishkama Karma.A person who practices ‘Nishkam Karma’ or ‘Detached Involvement’ remains unperturbed by success and failure.For him, action is divine and it is his reward.The fame or failure which follows an action cannot flirt with his emotions and mindset.Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela would not have survived so many failures until unless they had detached themselves from emotional turbulence of failure or success. Lord Krishna’s philosophy of work goes beyond western explanation of work and gives practical solution to man’s emotional and social problems.India should take pride in this philosophy and create mentally strong humans who are action oriented and value driven.Only such strong individuals can create foundation for a strong, peaceful and prosperous ‘BharataVarsha’.