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Classical Hindu ThoughtAn Introduction$
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Arvind Sharma

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780195658712

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195658712.001.0001

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(p.127) Chapter XVIII Karma-yoga
Classical Hindu Thought

Arvind Sharma

Oxford University Press

This chapter assesses the significance of the path of action. The path of knowledge was popularly interpreted as involving the renunciation of worldly activities; and even the path of devotion was seen as imparting an ‘other-worldly’ quality to one's life (as one focused more on God than on this world). The path of action, however, made the astonishing and revolutionary claim that one could approach ultimate reality by performing one's own normal worldly duties, provided these were done in the right spirit. The Indian ethos has generally tended to emphasize the road of renunciation—coupled with either knowledge or devotion—as leading to realization. In this respect, the doctrine of karma-yoga is significant as endowing ordinary life in the world with salvific power.

Keywords:   path of action, knowledge, God, ultimate reality, worldly duties, Indian ethos, Hindu thought, renunciation

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