Karma yoga is service to
God which is
realized through help provided to people in their
evolutionary advancement. In this service, there
must be no selfish personal interest.
What does service to God mean?
If we analyze the Teachings left to people
by, for instance, Krishna,
Sathya Sai Baba, then it becomes clear what God
implies by service: He needs our efforts on
self-development and our help to other people in
Helping other people on this Path — this
is what service to God is!
But one should not interpret this kind of
help too narrowly: only as preaching, conducting
religious classes or writing religious books.
No. In order to live on the Earth
fruitfully and to evolve, people also need housing,
food, clothing, fuel, transport, safety, medical
help, education and many other things. Therefore,
karma yoga means helping other people in everything
that is good.
The most important characteristic of karma
yoga is the right motivation: that is, one should
not act for gain or reward, even in the form of a
salary. One has to perform actions for the sake of
helping other people, as acts of selfless giving.
This does not imply, however, an unpaid work. So,
the short definition of the term karma yoga sounds
like this — “selfless help to all worthy people in
It is very important to emphasize that one
develops correctly not through parasitism,
panhandling or endless repetition of prayers or
making ritual bodily movements — but through
creative work and active love for other evolving
beings, which is expressed in actions for their
Let us look at some quotations about karma
Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says about
karma yoga the following:
3:7. … He who has conquered his
and freely performs karma yoga deserves respect!
3:8. Therefore, perform righteous actions,
for action is better than inaction; being idle, one
cannot support even one’s own body!
3:9. Secular people are enslaved by action
if it is not performed as sacrifice. Perform your
action as offering to God, staying free from the
attachment to the “earthly”.
3:19. Therefore, ceaselessly perform your
duties without any expectation of reward. Verily,
performing action thus does man attain the Supreme!
3:25. The unwise one acts out of
selfishness, O Bharata! The wise one acts without
selfishness, for the good of others!
5:2. Both sannyasa and karma yoga will
bring you to the highest good. But, verily, karma
yoga is preferable!
Let us now read several excerpts from the
Teachings given to people by Jesus Christ:
“Whatever be the gifts which each has
received, you must use them for one another’s
benefit…” (1 Peter 4:10)
“Let no one seek own (profit), but each
one another’s (wealth)!” (1 Cor 10:24)
“… Truly I say to you, inasmuch as you did
not do it (did not help) to one of the least of
these, you did not do it to Me” (Matt 25:45).
Babaji paid much attention to karma yoga
in His preachings. These are several excerpts from
the book The Teachings of Babaji (published by Haidakhandi Samaj, India, 1990):
“There are many kinds of yoga, but karma
yoga is of supreme importance! Karma yoga must come
first, and then others types of yoga can be added”.
“The great people who lived in the past
thrived by doing karma yoga!”
“Karma yoga teaches you to lead a true
life! Only karma yoga is able to transform the
world. Inaction is the cause of pain and all
“We must perform those actions which will
benefit others — and not only other people but the
whole of Creation!”
In conclusion, let us read several sayings
of Sathya Sai Baba from the book Yoga of Action.
Significance of Selfless Service (published by
Center of Sathya Sai Baba, Saint Petersburg, 1997):
“Service performed without selfish motives
is the first step on the path of one’s spiritual
“Any kind of activity performed only out
of selfish interests… is meaningless!”
“If service is based on selfish interests,
it is not service at all!”
“Service is the best spiritual practice
for getting rid of wicked habits of the mind!…”
“Sacrificial attitude is the main
criterion of service. Egoism is the first one of the
qualities that must be sacrificed.”
“In service there must be nothing
“Serve not for the sake of reward,
attention, or gratitude, not for the sake of feeling
proud of your wealth, abilities, position, or fame.
The only true motive for service is love!”
“Service to man is service to God”.
“Man has to
dedicate all his gifts to service to mankind, to all