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Essence of Karma Yoga

by Swami Sivananda

Karma Yoga is selfless service unto humanity. "Your duty is to work incessantly but not to expect the fruits thereof." This is the central teaching of the Gita.

Repeat your Ishtamantra mentally even when you work in office. Godis the Inner Ruler. He directs the body, mind and senses to work. Become an instrument in the hands of the Lord. Do not expect thanks or appreciation for your work. Do actions as your duty and offer them and their fruits to the Lord. You will be freed from the bonds of Karma. It is not the Karma but the selfish motive that binds the man.

Never, never say, "I have helped that man." Feel and think, "That man gave me an opportunity to serve. This piece of service has helped me to purify my mind. I am extremely grateful to him." If you see a poor man clad in rags standing in front of your door, feel that the Lord is before you in the form of a poor man. Serve him with Narayana Bhava.

Never grumble when you do service to others. Take delight in service. Watch for opportunities, to serve. Never miss even a single opportunity. Work is worship of the Lord.

A Karma Yogi should have an amiable, loving, social nature. He should have sympathy, adaptability, self-restraint, tolerance, love and mercy. He should adjust himself to the ways and habits of others. He should be able to bear insult, harsh words, criticism, pleasure and pain, heat and cold.

You can do selfless service according to your ability and station in life. An advocate can plead for poor people without accepting fees. A doctor can treat the poor free of charge. A teacher or professor can give free tution to poor boys. He can supply them books for study.

Have a medicine-chest of 12 tissue remedies or some allopathic medicines or homoeopathic medicines. Serve the poor and sick with Atma Bhava. Give one-tenth of your income in charity. This is the highest Yoga.

Do not make any difference between menial and respectable work. If any one is suffering from acute-pain in any part of the body, at once shampoo the affected part very gently. Feel that you are serving the Lord in the body of the patient. Repeat your Ishtamantra also. If you see a man or animal bleeding on the roadside, never hesitate to tear your upper cloth or shirt and use it for bandaging, in the absence of any other means of bandage. Do not bargain with the poor porters at the railway station. Be liberal and generous. Keep always some small coins in your pocket and distribute them to the poor and the decrepit.

Karma Yoga prepares the mind for the reception of light and knowledge. It expands the heart and breaks all barriers that stand in the way of oneness or unity. Karma Yoga is an effective Sadhana for Chitta Suddhi or purity of heart. Therefore, do selfless service constantly.


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