There is a nice story which illustrates Karma Yoga.
There was a rich man who felt that he has proved enough in professional life. He decided to evoke renounce family/city life and moved to a forest to perform penance. He stayed in the forest for the whole day/night sitting under a tree in penance. He used to walk to a nearby village to beg food (just enough). Months passed. One day he was sitting under the tree in the morning when something fell on his shoulder. He touched it to find sticky liquid there. Angrily he looked up and he found a Crane sitting-his sight hit the Crane and it fell dead. He felt sorry for the bird but thought that he is slowly graduating in this penance and felt satified at the same time. That day he went to the nearby village as usual. Seeing him a lady asked him to wait and went inside to pick some food. As luck would have it the lady's husband walked in from the fields. Seeing her husband the lady started to take care of him (washing his legs, giving him food etc). For the next 1 hour the Sagely man was waiting impatiently for the lady to return...finally the lady come out and found him standing. She said "Oh, here I get your food" and returned with a bowl of food. The Sagely man was very upset and angry-he gave a strong angry look at her. She looked at him and casually told him" I am not a Crane to die". This surprised the man. He was pretty sure there was no one looking when the Crane died and even if someone was looking it was only a matter of 2 hours-so there is no way the lady knew about this. He asked " Madam, how do you know about the Crane? You seem to be a Yogi...accept me as your student." She laughed at said " I am not as great as you think. But there is someone in Kashi (about 1500 Kms from the place) named Vishnudatta. He may help you".
The man dropped everything the very moment and began his journey to Kashi. It was an ardous journey but nothing would stop him finding his Guru Vishnudatta. He reached Kashi after 3 years of travel and started looking for Vishnudatta in temples and other holy places. There was none by that name. Tired he was after 3 months but he did not give up. He asked every passer by if they knew anyone by name of Vishnudatta. Finally one young soldier who overheard him asking someone else said" Sir, are you asking for Vishnudatta". The man heaved a relief. "Yes, my son. I looking for this Yogi". The young man was puzzled. He said "I don't know any Yogi by this name. But I know someone else". The man was desperate. He thought" The lady we saw looked also ordinary. So let us meet this person". He said" Anyone by this name is fine." The soldier pointed towards the direction of the Slaughter house and said "The owner of the shop is named Vishnudatta...you can meet him if you go in. Or he comes out at noon".
The man was shocked. He was in double mind. To go into slaughter house is something he would never do. But having spent 3 years to meet this person he decided to wait another few hours.
At noon the Butcher closed his shop and started walking out. Our man slowly stood up and tried to walk towards him. The butcher saw him and started walking towards him and with folded arms said" So you are the man sent by Parvati Bhai from Markal. Welcome to Kashi. Come to our home for lunch". The man was shocked. How is this possible? Telepathy. Is this man really Godly. Controlling his excitement he calmy said" Then you should also know why I came to meet you?". Vishudatta replied "Yes. You are looking for a Guru and want me to be yours". The man cannot believe this. He thought" My Guru...a butcher. No way.". But he walked calmy behind him. Reaching home Vishnudatta fell on the feet of his parents. Fed them and took care of daily chores. He had lunch with our man and asked him to sleep. Getting up he said "Tell me when you are ready to accept me as Guru. I will start to teach". Our man was now convinced that he had something special. So he fell at his feet and said "Right now Guru".The butcher taught him the virtues of Karma Yoga...do your duty with full devotion-the essence of Gita. The man stood up calmly as he knew that Pride was the reason for switching from family life to supposedly yogic life, pride was behind his penance and pride was behind his search. But here he stood knowing before the butcher with pride cut into pieces. He could feel that his mind was lighter! First time in his life he smiled like a Child and felt the God in himself.
- ► 2009 (34)