Ideas Contained In The Essay The Secret of Work by Swami Vivekanand

“The Secret of Work” is a well known extract from Karma yoga by Swami Vivekanand. Vivekanand was himself a sanyasi and karmyogi. Therefore, his poignant stress on karmayoga is found in this essay. This essay is in the nature of a sermon and so, it is full of teachings and messages. And these messages are effectively conveyed through apt similes and metaphors. The main thrust of message is that man is made to work. This creator god himself has been working incessantly. Lord Krishna says to Arjuna in the Bhagwat Geeta, “Look at me Arjuna ! If I stop from work for one moment, the whole universe will decay.” Krishna also says that he gets nothing for working, yet. He works because he loves the world. On this the author makes the comment that God is unattached because he loves. Real love makes us unattached.

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In this reference to Lord Krishna and Arjuna all the ideas and teaching of the author about work in a spirit of non-attachment are hinted at one’s work along with thoughts from his character. Thus one should do good works, think good thoughts and make good contacts so that the sum total of impressions that forms his character must be good. Thus this continuous relaxed of good thoughts and good impressions will form his character which will be unchangeably good and fixed so much so that he will never do any evil even if he feels so inclined. His character will be as friendly good as the tortoise tucked inside its shell that never comes out even when the whole shell is smashed to pieces. He will also be as untouched by evil as the lotus leaf remains unwept though it lives in water all the time.

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But merely being good even unchangeably good cannot be the end. The world is not our permanent living place, says the author and adds that it is only “one of the many stages through which we are passing.” So after being released from evil and being unchangeably good one must try to rise to the higher state of liberation from the bondages of both good and evil. Here comes the basic necessity of cultivating the quality of non- attachment. Ripples come and go in the lake water without affecting its quality. So great and bi actions will be performed by one’s muscle and mind but that will lea. no imprint on the soul. In the mean time the liberated person must have developed right knowledge of life and man’s terrestrial existence. He must have known that the worldly life is only a passing phase. So he must not develop any attachment. His mode of life in this world will be like that of stranger or a traveler at a place of temporary stay. He must not develop any attachment to his work will not be of slave but of a master marked not by selfish attachment but by selfless charity, mercy and love. Such action brings in peace and blessedness. Being possessed of real love he enjoys the consolidated happiness in form of existence-knowledge-bliss.

By attaining the goal of love and non-attachment he becomes completely free. The bondage of nature falls from him. Work becomes worship like God he is inspired by love and this love like God again makes him unattached. He loves and works for mankind without hoping for any return and without having consciousness of this. Now he becomes really liberated. Now “this selfless and unattached man may live in the very heart of a crowded and sinful city, yet he will not be touched by sin.”

Thus we get a good moral lesson from this essay that man should have firm faith in God. It is full of deep moral feeling. Its style is very fine.

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