In the light of Karma Yoga all actions are sacred. That aspirant who always takes immense delight in doing works which are considered by the worldly man as menial services, and who always does willingly such acts only will become a dynamic Yogi. He will be absolutely free from conceit and egoism. He will have no downfall. The canker of pride cannot touch him.
Study the autobiography of Mahatma Gandhiji. He never makes any difference between menial service and dignified work. Scavenging and cleaning of the latrine is the highest Yoga for him. This is the highest Puja [worship] for him. He himself has done cleaning of latrines. He has annihilated this illusory little ‘I’ through service of various sorts. Many highly educated persons joined his Ashram for learning Yoga under him. They thought that Gandhiji would teach them Yoga in some mysterious manner in a private room and would give lessons on Pranayama, meditation, abstraction, awakening Kundalini, etc. They were disappointed when they were asked to clean the latrine at first. They left the Ashram immediately. Gandhiji himself does repairing of his shoes. He himself used to grind flour and take upon his shoulders the work of others also when they were unable to do their allotted portion of work for the day in the Ashram. When an educated person, a new Ashramite, felt shy to do grinding work, Gandhiji himself would do his work in front of him and then the man would do the work himself from the next day willingly.
A real Yogi does not make any difference between menial and respectable work. It is only an ignorant man who makes such a difference. Some aspirants are humble in the beginning of their spiritual career. When they get some name and fame, some followers, admirers, devotees and disciples, they become victims to pride.
They cannot do any service. They cannot carry anything on their heads or hands. That Yogi who carries the trunk on his head without the slightest feeling in the railway platform amidst a multitude of his admirers, disciples and devotees, without making any outward show of humility must be adored. Sage Jada Bharata carried the palanquin of King Rahugana on his shoulders without murmuring. Lord Krishna shampooed the legs of a raja [king] when his barber devotee was on leave. Sri Rama carried a pot of water for the ablution of one of his devotees. Sri Krishna took the form of a menial servant as Vithoo and paid the money to the Nawab [Muslim ruler] on behalf of his devotee, Dhamaji. If you really want to grow in the spiritual path you must do all sorts of service daily till the end of life. Then only you are safe. Do not stop doing service when you have become a famous Yogi. The spirit of service must enter every nerve, cell, tissue and bone of your body. It must be ingrained in you. Then only you will become a real, full-blown practical Vedantin.
Is there any greater Vedantin or Karma Yogin than Lord Buddha? He still lives in our hearts, because the spirit of service was ingrained in him and he spent his whole life in serving others in various ways. You can also become a Buddha if you apply yourself diligently to selfless service with the right mental attitude.
Source: Yoga in Daily Life by Sri Swami Sivananda; courtesy of www.divinelifesociety.org