Nishkam Karma

niṣkāmakarma - निष्काम कर्म

Action without desire for the fruits of action. (1)

According to the Bhagavad Gita, no being can escape karma by refraining from action. Instead, one may practice nishkam karma, or action without desire. If one is not attached to the consequences of his actions, then one will gradually and ultimately free oneself from the bondage of karma. (2) Otherwise one may attract what he desires in life even if it is disastrous. (3)

Swami Kriyananda writes of the relationship between nishkam karma and karma yoga. Karma yoga, which involves the redirection of all behaviors and energies upward toward God, consists of the practice of non-attachment to the fruits of action. (4) This type of action no longer brings up karmic likes and dislikes, leading instead to yoga or union with divine nature. (5)

Early members of Ananda Village write about the importance of nishkam karma in their lives. For example, Sadhana Devi Helin mentions the practice of conscientiousness in members’ actions and their attitude of leaving the outcome in God’s hands. (6) Similarly, Ananda writes about the need to balance high ideals with practical realities without losing touch with God. (7)


  1. The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita, explained by Paramhansa Yogananda.
  2. The Essence of Self-Realization, by Paramhansa Yogananda. Chapter 10, “Working Out Karma.”
  3. The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita, explained by Paramhansa Yogananda. Chapter 19, “Knowledge and Wisdom.”
  4. Awaken to Superconsciousness, by Swami Kriyananda. Chapter 4, “Meditation and the Paths of Yoga.”
  5. The Art and Science of Raja Yoga, by Swami Kriyananda. Step 2, “I. Philosophy: The Paths of Yoga.”
  6. Many Hands Make a Miracle, by Sadhana Devi Helin. Chapter 4, “First Dharma.”
  7. Reflections on Living, by Sara Cryer. “Ananta and Maria.”