Nishkam Karma

Last updated: December 21, 2023

What Does Nishkam Karma Mean?

Nishkam Karma is a central theme in the Bhagavad Gita. An important philosophical concept in Karma yoga, it means to act unselfishly, or without personal gain in mind.

When acting out of Nishkam Karma, an individual is acting without any expectation that good will be returned to him/her. In Sanskrit, nishkam means “action without motive,” “work without desire” or “desire-less.”


Yogapedia Explains Nishkam Karma

In Karma yoga philosophy, there are two central concepts: Sakam Karma and Nishkam Karma. Sakam Karma is to take action under self-centered motivations with the goal of being thanked or receiving goodness in return. Nishkam Karma is the opposite of Sakam Karma and is considered to be selfless action without even the subtle internal hope for a “thank you” or goodness returned.

Ultimately, Nishkam Karma is considered non-attachment to the result of personal actions in life, but with selfless and loving motives. The karmic concept centers on whatever actions a yogi makes within the world for the sake of others and not for self-benefit.

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