A Karma Yogi should be absolutely free from lust, greed, anger and egoism. Even if there are traces of these Doshas, he should try to remove them. He should not expect any kind of fruits for his actions herein and hereafter. He should not have any desire for name and fame, approbation, appreciation, thirst for applause, admiration and gratitude. He must have a spotless character. He should try to possess this gradually. He should be humble and free from hatred, jealousy, harshness, etc. He should always speak sweet words. How can a proud and jealous man, who expects respect and honour from others, serve others? He should be absolutely fearless. A timid man is absolutely unfit for Karma Yoga. He is fit to assist his wife in cleaning utensils in the kitchen in the morning and in washing her clothes in the evening.
A Karma Yogi should have an amiable, loving, sociable nature. He should be able to move and mix with everybody without distinction of caste, creed or colour. He should have perfect adaptability, mercy and cosmic love. He should be sympathetic and tolerant. He should be able to adjust himself to the habits and ways of others. He should have an all-embracing and all-inclusive heart. He should always have a cool and balanced mind. He should have presence of mind also. He should have equal vision. He should rejoice in the welfare of others. A man who is easily irritated and who can be easily offended over trifling things is absolutely unfit for the path of Karma Yoga. He should have all the organs under perfect control. He should lead a very simple life. If he leads a life of luxury, if he wants everything for himself, how can he share his possessions with others? He should burn his selfishness to the very root. Let me remind you once more of the words of the Gita:
Samniyamyendriyagramam sarvatra samabuddhayah
Te prapnuvanti mameva sarvabhutahite rataah.
“Restraining and subduing the senses, regarding everything equally, in the welfare of all rejoicing, these also come to Me.” Gita: Chapter XII-4.
A Karma Yogi should have a sound, healthy and strong physical body. How can he serve others if he has a poor physique and a dilapidated frame? He should take great care of the body, but he should not have the least Moha or attachment for it. He should never say: “This body is mine.” Even the jackals and fish claim: “This body is ours.” He should be ever ready to sacrifice his body for a noble cause. He should do regular Pranayama, physical exercise and Asanas to keep up a high standard of health. He should take good, nourishing and substantial food.
He should bear insult, disrespect, dishonour, harsh words, censure, infamy, disgrace, heat and cold, and the pain of diseases. He should have power of endurance. He should have absolute faith in himself, in God, in the scriptures and in the words of his Guru. Such a man only can become a good Karma Yogi. Such a man only can do real and useful service to the country and to suffering humanity. It is always difficult to find an ideal Adhikari. Even if you possess a few of the above qualifications, the other qualifications will come to you by themselves, when you earnestly work in the field of Karma Yoga. You need not be discouraged. Plunge yourself in the service of God. Forget the body. March boldly in the field with Prem and Shraddha. Blow the bugle with the feeling: “I must become a true Karma Yogi now.” All virtues will cling to you by themselves. Apply yourself diligently right now from this very second. Become an ideal Karma Yogi like Janaka or Buddha. May God bless you with inner strength, faith, virtues and the spirit of self-sacrifice.
Start the work even with a little capital of some love, mercy and sympathy. Enter the field at once. You will draw inspiration from the leaders in the field. The astral or invisible helpers, Nitya Siddhas, Amara-Purushas and your colleagues will push you on. After sometime, you will become a wonderful Karma Yogi. Fearlessness, humility and all other virtues will shine in you by themselves now.
Article by Shri Swami Sivananda
Excerpts from the Book Practice of Karma Yoga,
Published by the Divine Life Society Tehri Garhwal Uttrakhand.