In The World But Not of the World
Janaka was called Rajarishi. You will find Krishna referring to Rajarishis in the fourth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, called Jnana Karma Sannyasa Yoga. In verse 1 he says: “I imparted this immortal yoga to Vivaswan, Vivaswan imparted it to Manu, and Manu to Ikshwaku”. In verse 2: “This yoga, handed down from teacher to disciple in succession, was known to the Rajarishis. But owing to the long lapse of time it was lost to the world.” In verse 3: “I have toay disclosed to you the same ancient yoga, which is a noble secret, for you are my devotee and friend.”
It is this yoga of nishkamyakarma that is ideal for this age of Kali. Nishkamyakarma or desireless action does not mean that you just keep on working like an automaton, no matter what the results are. You certainly set yourself a target to achieve and you plan well to achieve it by putting in hard work with single-pointed attention. This ability to concentrate will come with the practice of meditation. But the difference is that, unlike the ordinary man, you will not be shattered if the results are not as expected. In gain or loss, your mind will be balanced, steady, and unperturbed, and therefore, fully equipped to deal with the situation or to make alternate plans. This nishkamyakarma is also applied to meditation. The practice of dhyana is continued calmly, whether the results are good or imperfect during any particular session. Soon, the mind attains a certain tranquility and becomes fit to receive the experience known as Samadhi.
So, a spiritual life is not incompatible with worldly existence. Actually, a properly lived life in the world is conducive to meditation. This is especially true, if you are also inclined to practice asanas, pranayama, etc., as laid down in the path of ashtanga yoga. A wandering sannyasin cannot get proper diet, rest, bath, etc., prescribed for such yoga. The Gita puts it in a nutshell by saying, “This yoga is not for one who eats too much, or too little, sleeps too much, or too little.” Moderation is the key word for the hatayogi and the rajayogi. And this is best provided in a householder’s life.