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The Art of Doing Karma IV

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02-02-2009, Courtesy - The Vedanta Kesari: When I talk about bhakti, I enjoy telling this story: One lady went to Sri Ramakrishna and said, 'I want to do japa, but whenever I sit for japa or meditation, a nephew whom I love very much comes to my mind.' The Master said, 'Very well, whatever you do for him—feeding, dressing, etc.—do with the idea that he is Gopala; have this attitude that God resides in him in the form of Gopala and that it is He whom you are feeding, dressing and serving. Why should you think that you are doing all this for a human being? As is your mood, so will be your gain.' We are told that as a result of doing so, she made considerable spiritual progress in a short time, so much so that she attained even Bhavasamadhi. (Sri Ramakrishna The Great Master, vol. I, p. 392)


What a new approach! This reminds me of the story of a yogi who used to meditate under a tree. Once, atop the tree, some birds were making sound which disturbed the yogi. So he cast a fiery look at them, and the next moment both the birds were burnt to ashes. The yogi became very proud of his magical power. He went for bhiksha in the town. He came to a house whose doors were closed. So he stood there and gave a call for the bhiksha. Immediately he heard a reply, 'please wait, I am little busy.' So he had to wait. He waited but felt a little angry thinking, 'Why is this lady making me wait? She is not aware of my powers.' Inside the house, the lady was busy serving her sick husband.

<table class="s8" width="140" align="right" border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0"> <tbody> <tr> <td colspan="2">trans.gif</td> </tr> <tr> <td colspan="2" align="left">trans.gifdouble-quots1.jpg</td> </tr> <tr> <td colspan="2">trans.gif</td> </tr> <tr> <td>trans.gif</td> <td>The yogi was taken aback. He thought: what can I learn from the butcher?</td> </tr> <tr> <td>trans.gif</td> <td align="right">double-quots2.jpg</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> After some time, the lady came out. And on seeing the yogi angry, she said, 'here there are no birds to burn.' The yogi was surprised. He asked her how she came to know of this incident. 'Look here,' she said, 'I am serving my sick husband all the time. I look upon him as a representative of God. Just when you came, as I was serving him, I could not leave that in the middle and attend to your bhiksha. Hence I asked you to wait. This act of service must have brought some powers with it. I have not sought for it. If you want to know more about this, go and ask the butcher who owns a shop in the next street.'


The yogi was taken aback. He thought: what can I learn from the butcher? But he proceeded towards the shop where the butcher was cutting and selling meat. The butcher welcomed the yogi and said, 'Yes, I know that lady has sent you to me. But please wait'. Then he went home, first served his sick parents and then he finally attended to the yogi. The yogi said, 'I am surprised how you were able to acquire all these powers.' Then the butcher taught the yogi about the Ultimate Reality.


When you do your duty with devotion—whether it is serving the child or the father—with the idea of Shivajnana in jiva, it becomes seva. Service to mankind is service to the Lord. This idea can be followed wherever you are. It does not require any institutional set-up to do service. Only when you want do it on a larger scale, institutions are necessary. In family itself you can practise this and if you follow these principles, the whole family takes a turn for the better. We see in the metropolitan cities many broken marriages and broken hearts, and so many divorces. It is all because the right attitude is not there. So Karma-Yoga is to be practised. Whatever we do we have to convert it into Karma-Yoga, with the help of jnana or bhakti. Sri Ramakrishna says, in the age of Kali yuga, people are tied down to their bodies and Narada's way of bhakti is the most ideal. It does not talk about rituals. Just love for God. In due course life itself becomes an act of loving God.

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