What turns our karma into yoga, a devotional offering to God?

Simple Definitions

Karma overcoated with devotional service is called karma-yoga. (Bhag. 1.2.15, purport)

When a person knows the goal of life but is addicted to the fruits of activities, he is acting in karma-yoga. (Bg. 10.10, purport)

This Fifth Chapter is a practical explanation of Krishna consciousness, generally known as karma-yoga. (Bg. 5.29, purport)

Karma-yoga refers only to good, pious activities, or those actions that are prescribed. (Path of Perfection, Chapter 08)

Service for the cause of the Lord is called karma-yoga or buddhi-yoga, or in plain words, devotional service to the Lord. (Bg. 2.51 purport)

Karma and Karma-yoga– What is the Difference?

Karma Yoga

Karma is regulated action for the enjoyment of the fruit by the performer, but karma-yoga is action performed by the devotee for the satisfaction of the Lord. Karma-yoga is based on bhakti, or pleasing the Lord, whereas karma is based on pleasing the senses of the performer himself. (Bhag. 3.1.4, purport)

Karma means fruitive action. Everyone is working in this world to get some result. Somebody is working in business, earning millions of dollars yearly. Why is he earning? For sense gratification. As soon as he gets money, he changes his car, he changes his apartment, changes his standard of life only for increasing. The whole world is working so hard, and the result is an increase in the objects of sense gratification. This is called karma. Karma means to enjoy the result of your activities. And karma-yoga means that you engage yourself in your occupational activity, but dont engage the result for your sense gratification, but for satisfaction of Krishna. That is called karma-yoga. Yoga means linking up with the Supreme, and karma, when it is linked up with Krishna, is called karma-yoga.  (Lecture  on Bhagavad-gita 3.1-5, Los Angeles, 20 December 1968_

Karma means ordinary work. I work whole day; I get some remuneration and enjoy sense gratification. That is called karma, in this life or the next. Some people make charities and other pious acts so that in their next life they get good parentage, good education, opulence, so that they can also enjoy life. There are others also who make more advanced karma to get himself promoted in other planetary system. Just like moon planet, or Svargaloka, heavenly planet. There are many planets in which the standard of life is far, far more comfortable than here. So these are not required.  (Lecture on Bhagavad-gita 3.13-16, New York, 23 May 1966)

Those who are too much addicted to fruitive activities are advised to perform actions that will bring them to bhakti. . . . Karma-yoga is therefore different from ordinary karma.  (Krishna, Chapter 47)

Karma is very dangerous for persons who want to go back to Godhead. Therefore, in Bhagavad-gita karma-yoga is advised. On the whole, we can endeavor for money-making if it doesn’t hamper our devotional service. Otherwise, we shall prefer to starve and chant Hare Krishna. That should be the pivot of all our activities.  (Letter to Hamsaduta, Montreal, 21 June, 1968)

Working without attachment

Karma Yoga

On the other hand, if a sincere person tries to control the active senses by the mind and begins karma-yoga [in Krishna consciousness] without attachment, he is by far superior.  (Bg. 3.7)

Yat karosi yaj juhosi yad asnasi dadasi yat kurusva tad mad-arpanam [Bg. 9.27]. The karma-yoga process is that Whatever you do, whatever you take trouble for, whatever you eat, and everything, offer to Me. Offer to Me. That is called karma-yoga, or yoga-sthah.  (Lecture on Bhagavad-gita 2.48-49, New York, 1 April 1966)

You American people have got so much money. Engage your money in that way(for Krishna). Dont spoil your life by this way and that way. You have got enough means to offer Krishna fifty-six times. . . . Pranair arthair dhiya vacah. You have to employ your life, your money, your words, and your intelligence, all for Krishna. That is Krishna consciousness. If you have got enough money, spend it for Krsna. Dont stock it. This is karma-yoga.   (Lecture on Bhagavad-gita 3.1-5,Los Angeles, 20 December 1968)

It is advised that part of your hard labor you offer to Krishna. This is called karma-yoga. You remain in your karma, but nirbandhah Krishna-sambandhe be touched with Krishna consciousness movement and spend at least fifty percent for Krishna.   (Room Conversation with Malcolm, London,  18 July 1973)

Karma Yoga

Action in Krishna Consciousness

Although the eightfold yoga system is recommended in this chapter [chapter 6], the Lord emphasizes that the process of karma-yoga, or acting in Krishna consciousness, is better. (Bg. 6.1, purport)

Karma-yoga, without fruitive results, is the beginning of this path. When karma-yoga increases in knowledge and renunciation, the stage is called jïana-yoga.  (Bg. 6.47, purport)

The propensity for enjoyment may be turned into the desire for serving the mission of the Lord. By doing so, ones activity is changed into karma-yoga, or the way by which one can attain spiritual perfection while engaging in the work for which he has a natural tendency. (Bhag. 1.5.34, purport)

Principle of Karma-yoga: Satisfaction of the Lord

This kriya-yoga or karma-yoga, as recommended by Sri Narada to Vyasa, is specifically recommended because the principle is to satisfy the Lord. (Bhag. 1.5.35, purport)

The whole material civilization is manifested by a huge accumulation of materials, or, in other words, raw materials for industrial purposes, and the industrial enterprises (kriya-sakti) are all due to gross ignorance of spiritual life. In order to rectify this great anomaly of materialistic civilization, based on the principles of dravya-shakti and kriya-sakti, one has to adopt the process of devotional service of the Lord by adoption of the principles of karma-yoga, mentioned in the Bhagavad-gita (9.27) as follows:

yat karosi yad asnasi
yaj juhosi dadasi yat
yat tapasyasi kaunteya
tat kurusva mad-arpanam

O son of Kunti, all that you do, all that you eat, all that you offer and give away, as well as all austerities that you may perform, should be done as an offering unto Me.” (Bhag. 2.5.25, purport)

Service to God is Karma-yoga

Whatever we have we should use as service to the Supreme Person. It is advised in Bhagavad-gita sva-karmana tam abhyarcya: [Bg. 18.46] one should try to worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead by ones assets. There are many forms of service to the Supreme Lord, and anyone can render service unto Him according to the best of his ability.  (Bhag. 3.23.57, purport)

If one works according to the varnasrama-dharma system and does not desire fruitive results, he gets satisfaction gradually. Discharging ones occupational duty as a means of rendering devotional service unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the ultimate goal of life. Bhagavad-gita confirms this as the process of karma-yoga. In other words, we should act only for the satisfaction and service of the Lord. Otherwise we will be entangled by the resultant actions.  (Bhag. 4.20.9, purport)

Arjuna is a fighter a warrior, military man. And he fought for Krishna. This is called karma-yoga. (Lecture, Los Angeles, 4 December 1968)

Pseudo Karma-yogis

The mentality of the demons in being enamored by the false beauty of this material world is expressed herein. The demoniac can pay any price for the skin beauty of this material world. They work very hard all day and night, but the purpose of their hard work is to enjoy sex life. Sometimes they misrepresent themselves as karma-yogis, not knowing the meaning of the word yoga. Yoga means to link up with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, or to act in Krishna consciousness. A person who works very hard, no matter in what occupation, and who offers the result of the work to the service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, is called a karma-yogi. (Bhag. 3.20.34, purport)