It is but natural for some to ask, “Should we not then be compassionate towards all beings suffering around us? Should we not then engage ourselves in the service of mankind and eradicate those miseries? Is not there a path ‘Karma Yoga’ well charted and followed?”
Is it not first necessary to know what is good for us, before knowing what is good for others? It is no wonder, when man does not know what he really is, that he is not able to know what is good for him. Unless he knows this, how can he understand what are others and what is good for them?
To recapitulate what has been said above: (1) Because man does not know what he is, he cannot know what the world is. (2) Because man does not know what is good for himself, he cannot know what is good for others. (3) Because man is incapable of giving himself all help, he surely is incapable of helping the world. It is a matter of common knowledge that, on account of these three reasons only, all those who came forward as reformers, under the “mistaken” notion of doing good, are but to be those who have brought forth so many wrongs and evils to the world.
Let us turn to the words of Lord Krishna who performed so many great miracles from the very moment of His birth,
“ ...For establishing righteousness I incarnate myself from age (yuga) to age (yuga)”
– verse 8 of Chap. IV. Bhagavad Gita
That it does not show the inability of the Almighty, but that it only betrays the unreal nature of the world!! This very fact was pointed out by Bhagavan Sri Ramana.
Therefore, in the name of reform let not man’s ego rise and spoil himself as well as the world. First, let us control these kinds of emotions and make the mind calm.
Therefore the purpose of Karma Yoga is only the purification of the mind. This purpose being the hidden aim, is enjoined in Karma Yoga.
“You have the right only to do; but never the right over the results thereof...”
– Bhagavad Gita-Chapter II-verse 47.
Just as a dirty cloth becomes purer and purer as it is beaten and squeezed more and more so also every unselfish activity of his, serves the purpose of dealing a blow upon his ‘mine-ness’ and thereby makes his mind purer and purer. If we minutely scrutinise every injunction and prohibition such as fasting, charitable deeds and other codes of conduct as enjoined by the Vedas, to be followed by people in their daily actions (Nitya-Karma anushtana), it will become clear that all these aim at making one to sacrifice at least a bit of ‘mine-ness’ and put a check on one’s craving for the worldly enjoyments.
Source: The Path of Sri Ramana PART TWO By Sri Sadhu Om
Readers interested in this article can read this article also where Ramana Maharshi comments about doing Social Service.