All great yogis, saints and sages are karma yogis, for they perform perfect actions, without the slightest hint of egoism. It is not necessary to do large amounts of work to practise karma yoga. It is the attitude and state of awareness that is important. Even a hermit in his cave can be a karma yogi, even though he does little work. Yet at the same time, there are or have been certain people who are renowned as karma yogis, for they most clearly and obviously illustrate and epitomize the ideals of karma yoga. They do prodigious amounts of work without desire of fame, without thought of power or money. They work for the sake of the work and often to help other people to raise themselves above the mire of social conditions or spiritual poverty. Probably the most well known example in this century is Mahatma Gandhi. He performed incredible amounts of work, for he was very little influenced by personal likes and dislikes, whims and fancies. His mind was free of the limitations that normally interfere with the actions of most people. Because of this, he was able to view the problems of India and the work that was his duty with pristine clarity.
Most decisions in the world are clouded over by personal friendships and enmities. Gandhi was able to overcome this onesidedness, and it is through this that he obtained his strength. He had no real personal friends in the usual sense of the word, for all people were his friends, even his so-called enemies. None of his actions were done as a favour. He acted because something needed to be done; the situation demanded it to be so. He acted for the benefit of people in general and that which was for the overall good of the people of India. Some people say that he was stubborn, but he acted because he knew his own mind, could understand the mind of other people and the world situation in a clear undistorted light. He was a politician with a strong mind, yet he showed deep and sincere compassion for all. By vocation he was a politician; by aspiration he was a great karma yogi.