A man puts on Khaddar clothes and dons a Khaddar cap. He will not have any of the qualifications or attributes of the man who has introduced Khaddar. He will not follow his instructions even. He may not have the least tinge of self-sacrifice. He may have a big almirah of mill-made clothes. He may do a little charity and feed some poor people just for the sake of name and fame. He himself will write to the papers about his charitable act in the name of a correspondent. He may donate a small sum to a public cause. He will eagerly watch in the newspapers whether his name is published or not. He will be restless till he sees his name in the papers. Such a man is called a pseudo-Karma Yogi. The world abounds now in such sort of Karma Yogis.
A landlord or a money-lender sucks the blood of poor peasants and builds a palace. He gives a donation of several thousands of pounds to a Hindu university out of his reserve fund of a hundred thousand. He builds a temple for a few thousands and puts his name on the marble slab in front of the temple in bold letters. This is not Karma Yoga. This is pompous advertisement for acquiring name and fame. On the other hand an ordinary labourer who earns a few shillings at the sweat of his brow may offer his money in charity by feeding a few starving or sick people, and may himself starve on that day. This is real self-sacrifice. This is real Karma Yoga.
In olden days, Madura in South India was ruled by Pandian kings. One of the Pandian kings spent two lakhs of rupees in doing Utsava of Lord Soma Sundareshvar in a certain year. He had a great deal of ego or Abhimana. He thought within himself: "I am a great devotee of Lord Siva. I have spent a large sum of money in the worship of the Lord. Thousands of Brahmins, Sadhus and the poor have been fed. I have given rich presents to Brahmin Pandits. There is no king who is so pious as myself." Lord Siva appeared in his dream that night and said: "O king! Do not be proud of your piety, devotion and charity. I am not pleased with you in any way. Wherever there is pride, there cannot be any real devotion and holiness. Just go and see My humble devotee, the wood-cutter, who lives in a small hut on the banks of the Vaighai, and who offers to Me a little Kheer made of broken rice and a little black sugar on Mondays. Learn from him what real devotion is." The king was greatly vexed. The next morning he proceeded to see the wood-cutter in his hut. He asked the wood-cutter: "How do you worship Lord Siva?" The man replied in a meek voice: "O king! I earn two annas a day. I spend one anna for my food, distribute nine pies in charity and save three pies daily. Every Monday I prepare a little Kheer with some broken rice and black sugar and offer it to Lord Siva. Whenever I cut wood, I always repeat 'Siva, Siva, Siva.' I always remember Him. This is my devotion to the Lord. I do not know anything else."
The king was very much pleased with the humility, simplicity, loving nature, devotion and purity of the wood-cutter. He erected a small building for him and made arrangements for his food till the end of his life. He learnt many practical lessons from his life and in turn became a real, humble devotee of Lord Siva. He destroyed his pride, vanity and egoism.
Lord Jesus says: "Your left hand should not know what the right hand does. Be meek when you serve. Die unknown. Let nobody know your name. But work and serve others. Do not expect approbation and applause. Then only real fragrance of your soul will come out."
Dear friends who tread the path of Karma Yoga! Be sincere at heart. Do not run after the shadowy toys of name and fame. Name and fame are illusory. They are mere vibrations in the air. Nobody can earn an everlasting name in this Mayaic plane. Does anybody remember Sri Vyasa, Vasishtha, Vikramaditya, Yajnavalkya, Vama Dev and Jada Bharata now? Many great souls have come and gone. At the present time the names of one or two political leaders are remembered. After a few years their names also will disappear. Treat name and fame as offal, poison or vomited matter. This world is unreal. Care not for little perishable things. Care for the everlasting Reality only. Do constant selfless service silently with thoughts of God and Bhava within, and realise the indwelling presence. Become a true Karma Yogi.