Nishkam Karma (sanskrit IAST : niṣkāmakarma), self-less or desireless action, is an action performed without any expectation of fruits or results, and the central tenet of Karma Yoga path to Liberation. Its modern advocates press upon achieving success following the principles of Yoga, and stepping beyond personal goals and agendas while pursuing any action over greater good, which has become well known since it is the central message of the Bhagavad Gita.
In Indian philosophy, action or Karma has been divided into three categories, according to their intrinsic qualities or gunas. Here Nishkam Karma belongs to the first category, the Sattva (pure) or actions which add to calmness; the Sakam Karma (Self-centred action) comes in the second rājasika (aggression) and Akarma (in-action) comes under the third, tāmasika which correlates to darkness or inertia.
Nishkam Karma at work place
|Part of a series on|
The opposite of Sakam Karma (Attached Involvement) or actions done with results in mind, Nishkam Karma has been variously explained as 'Duty for duty's sake'  and as 'Detached Involvement', which is neither negative attitude or indifference; and has today found many advocates in the modern business area where the emphasis has shifted to ethical business practices adhering to intrinsic human values and reducing stress at the workplace.
Another aspect that differentiates it from Sakam or selfish action, is that while the former is guided by inspiration, the latter is all about motivation, and that makes the central difference in its results, for example Sakam Karma might lead to excessive work pressure and workaholism as it aims at success, and hence creates more chances of physical and psychological burn outs. On the other hand Nishkam Karma, means more balanced approach to work, and as work has been turned into a pursuit of personal excellence, which results in greater personal satisfaction, which one would have otherwise sought in job satisfaction coming from external rewards. One important fallout of the entire shift is that where one is essentially an ethical practice inside-out leading to the adage, ‘Work is worship’ show itself literally at workplace, leading to greater work commitment, the other since it is so much result oriented can lead to unethical business and professional ethics, as seen so often at modern work place 
Since the central tenet of practicing Nishkam Karma is Mindfulness in the present moment. Over time, this practice leads to not only equanimity of mind as it allows the practitioner to stay detached from results, and hence from ups and downs of business that are inevitable in any business arena, while maintaining constant work commitment since work as now been turned into a personal act of worship. Further in the long run it leads to cleansing of the heart but also spiritual growth and holistic development.
Nishkam Karma in Bhagavad Gita
Nishkam Karma, gets an important place in the Bhagavad Gita, the central text of Mahabharata, where Krishna advocates 'Nishkam Karma Yoga' (the Yoga of Selfless Action) as the ideal path to realize the Truth. Allocated work done without expectations, motives, or thinking about its outcomes tends to purify one's mind and gradually makes an individual fit to see the value of reason and the benefits of renouncing the work itself. These concepts are vividly described in the following verses:
- To action alone hast thou a right and never at all to its fruits; let not the fruits of action be thy motive; neither let there be in thee any attachment to inaction.
- Verse 47, Chapter 2-Samkhya theory and Yoga practise, The Bhagavadgita 
- "Fixed in yoga, do thy work, O Winner of wealth (Arjuna), abandoning attachment, with an even mind in success and failure, for evenness of mind is called yoga"
- Verse 2.48
- "With the body, with the mind, with the intellect, even merely with the senses, the Yogis perform action toward self-purification, having abandoned attachment. He who is disciplined in Yoga, having abandoned the fruit of action, attains steady peace..."
- Verse 5.11
|Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
|Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
- Jonardon Ganeri (5 July 2007). The Concealed Art of the Soul: Theories of Self and Practices of Truth in Indian Ethics and Epistemology. Clarendon Press. p. 113. ISBN 978-0-19-160704-2.
- Material Success Through Principles of Yoga by Swami Kriyananda, Times of India, August 3, 2005.
- ‘Get over that mindset of networking with an agenda’ Bala V Balachandran, The Economic Times, August 20, 2007.
- A small matter of the ego Times of India, December 12, 2004.
- THE SPEAKING TREE: Father, Lead Me from Sakam to Nishkam by Anil Ambani (Reliance Industries), Times of India, December 4, 2004.
- Gita's Emphasis on Good of the World Times of India, January 6, 2004.
- Relaxation, a must for better mind power Times of India, July 28, 2008.
- Sakam Karma
- Psychology in Human and Social Development: Lessons from Diverse Cultures : a Festschrift for Durganand Sinha, by Durganand Sinha, John W. Berry, R. C. Mishra, Rama Charan Tripathi. Published by SAGE, 2003. ISBN 0-7619-9535-8. Page 61.
- Human Values and Indian Ethos Human Action in Business: Praxiological and Ethical Dimensions, by Wojciech Gasparski, Leo V. Ryan. Published by Transaction Publishers, 1996. ISBN 1-56000-258-1. Page 181.
- Nishkama Karma Ethics in International Management, by Brij Kumar, Brij Nino Kumar, Horst Steinmann. Published by Walter de Gruyter, 1998. ISBN 3-11-015448-X. Page 296.
- Globalisation Managing Org. Adaptation, by Murthi. Published by Anmol Publications PVT. LTD..ISBN 8126104961. Mantra of Karma Yoga -Page 333-334.
- Mindfulness with Present Is Nishkama Karma Times of India, February 6, 2007.
- How are CEOs beating the crunch factor? Lalbhai Shah (Arvind Mills), The Economic Times, June 1, 2007.
- The Guru of Google Rolling Stone, April 17, 2008.
- Human Values and Ethics: Achieving Holistic Excellence, by SK Chakraborty, D Chakraborty. Published by ICFAI Books. ISBN 81-314-0379-3.Page 190.
- Critical Perspectives on the Mahābhārata By Arjunsinh K. Parmar. Published by Sarup & Sons, 2002. ISBN 81-7625-273-5. Page 111.
- verse 47, Chapter 2-Samkhya theory and Yoga practise, The Bhagavadgita - Radhakrishnan
- Essence of Maharishi Patanjali's Ashtang Yoga, by J.M. Mehta, Published by Pustak Mahal, 2006. ISBN 81-223-0921-6. Page 23.
- verse 48, Chapter 2-Samkhya theory and Yoga practise, The Bhagavadgita - Radhakrishnan
- A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. "Bhaktivedanta VedaBase: Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Verse 5.11". Bhaktivedanta VedaBase Network (ISKCON). Retrieved 2008-01-14.