By Swami Harshananda
Naiskarmya literally means ‘state of absence of all karmas or rituals and actions’.
This is a technical term generally favored by the Advaita Vedānta system. In effect, it means the state of jīvanmukti or liberation even while living in this body. Performing karmas whether as a matter of duty or because they have been prescribed by the scriptures, is possible only as long as a person is able to see duality brought about by avidyā or nescience.
When avidyā is destroyed by ātmajñāna and the whole world including oneself is perceived as the one indivisible pure consciousness which is sat-cit-ānanda and there is absolutely no scope or possibility of performing any karma at all. This state of mind of the man of realization is called ‘naiṣkarmya’ or ‘naiṣkarmyabhāva’.
However, it should not be forgotten that performing all actions ordained by the scriptures with the right attitude leads to cittaśuddhi or purification of mind. It is only the person endowed with such purity of mind that is fit for practicing jñāna, ultimately resulting in the destruction of avidyā which then confers the state of naiskarmya.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore