I was a young man studying near Delhi (India) when a relative in Delhi fell sick. I went to Sir Gangaram hospital to take care of him in the nights. One day, the Prime Minister of India was shot dead, and there were riots all over the city. The same night the relative I was looking after, died. I could not leave the hospital or take the body home, because of curfew and riots. Many riot victims were brought to the hospital with ears cut, hair pulled out of the scalp and other injuries. It was a nightmare. The hospital was running short of staff. I had free time because my patient had died. I pitched in and helped as many people as I could without eating or sleeping. One old man had been watching me for some days since I started coming to the hospital. I like helping anyone not just the patient I was caring for. The old man called me aside and asked me if I knew what a karma yogi is. I said ‘no’. He said “you are a true Karma Yogi”.
That influenced me a lot and the two words Karma and Yoga kept ringing in my head. Much later, I came across a tiny little publication of RK mutt with Swami Vivekananda’s speeches on karma yoga- about 36 pages. I read these pages often even today. After that I bought the entire collected works of Swami Vivekananda , but did not read anything else fully. Nothing impressed me more than karma yoga. That old man had set me on a course for life.
Every time I read those pages I come across a new insight. I learned that physical work to help others is only one way of practising Karma Yoga. I learned the importance of non-attachment while doing work and many other insights.
I have a long way to go in my learning and actual practice of Karma yoga as interpreted by Swami Vivekananda.
If anyone is interested I can mail a copy of the book in case you are not able to find it or if it is out of print.