Karma Yoga and Yoga Nidra

Swami Satyananda Saraswati

Swamiji why is karma yoga so important and how can it be practised by people who lead the worldly life?

Karma produces samskaras. Karma yoga does not produce any samskara. Every activity, in which you are involved, should be done with a total sense of renunciation. It also means that you have to continue to do karma. Involve yourself in every action, discharge all the responsibilities as duties as purushartha. But so far as the expectations of the fruits and the results is concerned – you should withdraw yourself, emotionally and mentally both.

This is the basic difference between karma and karma yoga. You work for instance in a bank, you are a cashier, or you are a treasurer in a government office. Next morning when you go there, you come to learn that quite a few thousand rupees have been stolen last night by a band of dacoits. How much do you get worried? Not at all, because you are not personally involved. But if you lose 25 rupees from your pocket, it worries you a lot, because there you are personally involved. There your ego is involved.

In karma yoga there is no involvement of your individuality. There is duty, there is responsibility. The Bhagavad Gita says very clearly, karma yoga is the best form of yoga for the purification of the mind and for the development of detachment. Householders or sannyasins, are supposed to do something in the ashram, in the family. In the ashram, most swamis and sannyasins do karma yoga and because of this they attain purity of mind, selflessness and they do not incur karma and samskaras.

Nishkama bhav

All the swamis and sannyasins who work in the ashram, they do not incur samskaras for themselves, because whatever they do, they do with a spirit of selflessness.

If you ask them why do they do it. They have a very clear concept. They will say it is guru seva. When the concept of guru seva is there, then the consequences of the karma do not at all belong to you. Not at all. Because you are not working in an ashram for your personal profit. The motive is clear. I am a human being. I have incarnated as a jivatma. I have accumulated karma. Sanchita karma. I have to work, I have to manifest my karma. So I can manifest them in the form of guru seva. When I manifest them as guru seva, I detach myself from the accruing results or the accruing consequences. It is a very simple philosophy.

The same spirit can be developed by every householder. For whom are you working? You can say for the welfare of the family. Well that is the nearest definition or philosophy you can develop, 'I am doing this for the welfare of the family.' But then when you are working for the welfare of the family, you must also decide the intensity of your attachment with your family members. If your relationships with your family members is full of raga and dwesha, likes and dislikes, and attachment, then even if you are working for them, the karma will rebound on you. Anything happens to your son, you will be unhappy. That is why Bhagavad Gita says (2:47): You must do karma, it is your right, so perform karma. However, as far as the consequences or the outcome of karma is concerned, it is none of your business.

Swamiji can you advise and say something about yoga nidra?

Yoga is a science in which we deal with the depth-personality and not with the external mind, beliefs and intellect. I am talking to you now on certain aspects of yoga. You understand it with your buddhi, intellect. You know you are missing a lot. Whatever I say is not getting imprinted. No. But if you withdraw your mind a little bit, and even if you do not understand what I am talking to you, everything will be imprinted.

Behind the buddhi, behind the mind there is atman or you may call it chitta. During yoga nidra, that chitta comes to the surface and whatever is spoken and whatever is instructed is imprinted on the chitta directly. This is the practice of yoga nidra.


I have done many experiments on yoga nidra, with children of course. Now I don't do it because I have no time for that. When you give little children aged five or six years old yoga nidra, they will sleep in five minutes. Then give them instructions such as, "When you feel like urinating, please wake me up." You instruct the child three times during the practice of yoga nidra for four or five days. On the sixth day the child will wake up in the night and he will wake you up.

I tried yoga nidra on dogs. I trained an Alsatian dog with yoga nidra. Unfortunately he did not survive, because I did not take care of him and he died of paralysis. I instructed him and he understood it and did it. Animals can be trained because animals also have certain frequencies. They communicate with each other through those high frequencies. If you understand the frequency, you can attune yourself with them. You can communicate at least with some.

I have trained one of my disciples in the Vedas, in the shastras and other sciences, during yoga nidra when he was four, five and six years old. He did not get his education from outside and I have succeeded. If you allow me, I can take you anywhere I like, just in three minutes. Of course I don't do it, because I don't want to get into trouble. I have to accomplish greater work so I avoid this.

I am just telling you that yoga nidra is such a powerful system, to influence your mind. Why do we do it? When you want to plant a tree, you first prepare the soil. In the same way, if you want to achieve something in your life, which you find difficult, then plant your sankalpa, resolve. Before you sow this sankalpa in your mind, you will have to prepare your mind through yoga nidra. In yoga nidra you arrive at a particular level of consciousness. Once you are able to manifest that level of consciousness, you should succeed in fulfilling your sankalpa.

Tool for change

I have many friends and disciples in Australia, India and other countries, who have dissolved the tumour in their bodies, through sankalpa in yoga nidra. They have written many articles about their experiences in our magazines. When a thought is properly created and generated, it grows properly, it can create a disease, it can remove a disease. A thought is powerful. It can create an object. There is no difference between a thought force and an object. Object and thought are the two stages of the same force.

You can create certain changes in your personality and in your physical body. In many families you find that certain members have very bad habits, for example, drinking habits. Hindu wives do not like it and for them it is a great problem. They try a way, it is called satyagraha, but satyagraha, peaceful protest, doesn't work. Sometimes they run away to their parents. It doesn't work. They take all sorts of oaths and promises, it doesn't work. They give a lot of love, it doesn't work. They quarrel a lot, it doesn't work. They try everything but they don't try yoga nidra.

You just put the man's head on your lap, and teach him yoga nidra. After five minutes you can say, 'Okay, you are not going to drink from tomorrow." He doesn't hear it. He should not hear it. He should not know what you have told him, but the samskara, the bija, the seed, has been implanted. It is imprinted. The seed 'Don't drink from tomorrow' has been sown. Do it day after day.

You must know how to teach yoga nidra. You must know that yoga nidra is not a mechanical practice, it is a systematic practice, and for that you must also have the understanding of the different stages of the human mind. When you undergo the stages of the human mind, there are certain external signs. You have seen people sleeping for one, two, three hours. I have witnessed boys and girls sleeping for many hours. How they behave, for the first hour, how they behave for the second hour, how they behave for the third hour. I can say exactly at what time children are getting into the yoga nidra mood.

17 July 1983, Calcutta Ashram, India