Karmayoga is so called, because Yoga has always three aspects: there is an ‘object’ of Yoga, there is an ‘instrument’ of Yoga and there is the ‘method’ of Yoga. When these three are combined together, it is a complete ‘system’ of Yoga: the object of Yoga, the instrument of the Yoga, and the method of Yoga.
What is the object of Yoga? The object is: “Even while doing action, you become free”, that is the object. What is the instrument? There can be three instruments: the instrument may be the ‘intellect’, instrument can be knowledge, (that is one); instrument can be ‘will’; or the instrument can be ‘emotion’. There are three instruments. If you analyse the whole psychology of human being, you find there are three instruments: there is knowledge, there is will and there is emotion. Either of these three can be your instrument.
Karmayoga is called Karmayoga because ‘will’ is taken as the instrument: will is the active power in us, therefore it is called Karmayoga. If you take intellect and knowledge as a means, it is called Jnana yoga. If you take emotion as a means, it is called Bhaktiyoga. So, the distinction between one Yoga or the other depends upon the instrument that you are using. The object is: ‘While doing works you want to be free’, that is the object. The instrument is will. And what is the method? This is the method: we have just started describing the method but let us repeat. The method is that in us, the active energy at present is ‘impulse and desire’: all that is active within us, at a given stage in our consciousness, when we start, we find that, that which is very active in us, that is pressing upon us very much, is desire. Therefore, Sri Krishna says that, “You take desire in your hands and do something about it”, that is the method: apply method on desire. Like a scientist, you look into your consciousness and see where exactly the desire rests. What is it impelling you to do? What is it counselling you to do?
You will find for example, if you take the drama of Macbeth…Macbeth was a faithful general of the army of Duncan, who was the King; he was very faithful. After a victory somewhere, when he was returning with his friend, three witches meet him on the way, and they received him by saying: “Hail the King!” That is to say, they addressed him as the king.
As soon as this happens, in him a desire is ignited. He is now a different man, something is injected into him, and desire is injected into his consciousness. And the entire drama is nothing but the action of this desire. He even goes again to the ghosts, to these witches, to be sure whether what they had said was an accident, or whether it was really something intended, and they assure him that he is destined to be the king.
To know that he is destined to be the king is not enough, the desire is such a powerful instrument that even when you know that this is going to happen, the impulse of the desire impels you to do something about it. Lady Macbeth for example, when she hears this, then she impels him to arrange something by which this can be realised, this dream, this prediction can be fulfilled. And they come to decide to even plotting of the killing of the king so that after that king’s murder, Macbeth can become the king.
The plot was to invite the king for dinner, for banquet at home, and then at home, when he is sleeping after the banquet, there is a terrible scene of Lady Macbeth and Macbeth, and how Lady Macbeth impels Macbeth to murder, and what hesitation takes place. But all this is a play of desire.
I give this example because this is one of the very clear analyses of desire given by Shakespeare in this drama: how the desire really plays, what restlessness! How the will is turned downward for satisfaction of desire, and how various kinds of images bewilder the mind, and how ultimately the act is performed, and which is not the end! No action at the end, it goes on, and there are consequences, and the whole tragedy of Macbeth is ‘this desire’, ‘action’, and ‘its consequences’.