By Swami Harshananda
The dominant trend of the Upaniṣads towards karma-samnyāsa or karma-tyāga, renunciation of all actions, since it was strongly believed that karma or action lead to spiritual bondage. Opposition to this view is first noticed in the Īśāvāsya Upanisad which is later on developed in the Bhagavadgitā as a regular doctrine.
It is āsakti or attachment to the fruits of actions that is really the cause of spiritual bondage. Hence, if actions are performed with anāsakti or detachment, the sting or the binding taint, is taken away. The very same actions lead to purification of mind and spiritual enlightenment. This is ‘anāsakti-yoga,’ yoga or union with God, through anāsakti or detachment. This theory thus strikes a balance between karma (activity) and saṃyāsa (renunciation), between pravṛtti (activism) and nivṛtti (withdrawal).
- Īśāvāsya Upanisad 2
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore