The term "karma yoga" means "Path to Mergence with God through performing selfless service".
What is service to God?
An incompetent reader may start to recall: "I know the term "Divine service"… What is it? Prayers… And what are prayers?
"Lord, give me this! Lord, give me that!"…
Yes, for the majority of believers who consider themselves Christians praying means begging something from God. And they see in this, paradoxically enough, their duty and their
"service" to God…
But God does not need our panhandling. He does not listen to this. Otherwise it would
"make Him sick" to hear all the nonsense that people invented, their addressing Him as a servant who is allegedly supposed to serve whatever he is asked.
He needs our efforts on self-perfection and our help to other people in this. He wants us — every one of us! — to take an active part in His Evolution. And not to whine passively and expect
"grace" from Heaven.
Helping other people on this Path — this what service to God is! He claimed this through Babaji and Sathya Sai Baba; Apostle Paul said many wonderful words about this as well [7,14].
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 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 good.
But what does harm to people is not karma yoga, not a service to God, but that to forces of the devilish eon. This applies to production and distribution of alcohol, tobacco and other toxic substances, killing animals and feeding people with their dead bodies, promotion of hatred of mankind and aggressive wars…
The most important characteristic of karma yoga is the right motivation: one should not act for gain or reward, even in the form of a salary. One should perform actions for the sake of helping other people, as acts of selfless giving. This does not imply, however, an unpaid work. But it is up to those whom we help and to God to take care of the material welfare of the giver.
In other words, the essence of "mutual settlements" of worthy people who help one another is exchange of gifts. All necessary details of the
"gift theory" (or the "theory of giving") are set out by God in Chapter 17 of Bhagavad Gita . The essence of it is that God regards only those gifts as sattvic, i.e. true and pure, that one gives to the worthy person at the right time and in the right place.
So, the short definition of the term "karma yoga" sounds like this — "selfless help to all worthy people in everything good".
It is very important to emphasize that a person develops correctly not through parasitism, panhandling, endless repetition of prayers or making ritual bodily movements — but through creative work and active love to other evolving beings, which is expressed in actions for their good.
Sathya Sai clarifies the idea of karma yoga by the following illustrative example. He says that if you are members of one family you do not ask the head of the family for payment for each kind of work you perform around the house — it is outside people that work for money, but not the
"own" ones. So you, if you feel that God is your Father you must not engage in bargaining with Him, but on the contrary — you must act in the interests of His Plan, for Him, for the Evolution and not for your personal gain [7-8,14-16,35].
This kind of activity is the background against which God allows us to develop intellectually, in love and in power.