What is karma? Why god tell to perform duties?

Perform your actions but do not have any expectation of the fruits.

अद्वैतामृतवर्षिणीं भगवतीम्- अष्टादशाध्यायिनीम् अम्ब त्वामनुसन्दधामि भगवद्- गीते भवद्वेषिणीम् ॥ १॥

Om Parthaya prathi bodhithm bhagawataa naaraayanena swayam, Vyasaena gratitaam Puraana muninaa madhye Mahabaratam…

“Oh Bhagavad Gita, destroyer of rebirth(s), thou hast been instructed to partha(son of prutha) by Lord Narayana himself and later included by the ancient sage Vyasa within the Mahabharata. Showerer of the nectar of advaita, of eighteen chapters, Oh Mother! I meditate upon thee”


You asked “What is Karma”?

The very definition of karma is action or work. The karma word used in Gita for karma yoga means - work or action. It doesn’t mean karma as in “residual karma or sanchit or parbadh karma” (when talking in regards to karma yoga)

From Karma Yoga by Swami Vivekananda -

The word Karma is derived from the Sanskrit Kri, to do; all action is Karma. But in Karma-Yoga we have simply to do with the word Karma as meaning work

Every mental and physical blow that is given to the soul, by which, as it were, fire is struck from it, and by which its own power and knowledge are discovered, is Karma, this word being used in its widest sense. Thus we are all doing Karma all the time. I am talking to you: that is Karma. You are listening: that is Karma. We breathe: that is Karma. We walk: Karma. Everything we do, physical or mental, is Karma, and it leaves its marks on us.

Karma and humanism:

Humanism aspects (how you treat your family and society) still stays as scriptures ask you to perform mandatory duties at each stages of life. See the duties mentioned in Maha Nirvana tantra for example.

Now regarding question or doubts if this is really applicable to us or Sanyaasi, see following

** From Chapter 2 of Karma yoga by Swami Vivekanand**

The householder should be devoted to God; the knowledge of God should be his goal of life. Yet he must work constantly, perform all his duties; he must give up the fruits of his actions to God. It is the most difficult thing in this world to work and not care for the result, to help a man and never think that he ought to be grateful,

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