A learned professor came to see Mahatma Gandhi at his ashram. He paid his respects to the Mahatma and said to him, “They say you have imbibed the doctrine of the Gita in your daily life. Can you please explain to me the very essence of the Gita?”
Gandhiji looked at the professor and said, “Professor, can you do something for me?”
“Yes, certainly,” said the professor.
Gandhiji pointed to a pile of bricks stacked in one corner of the courtyard, “Can you move these bricks across to the opposite side please?”
“But… but Bapuji… ” he stammered. “I have asked you a serious question to which I believe you alone can give the answer!”
“Yes, yes, we will talk about it later. Now, if you will kindly start moving the bricks.”
The professor was puzzled, but in his eagerness to do the Mahatma’s bidding, he carried the bricks across the courtyard and stacked them on the opposite side as he was told.
Sweating profusely, he went back to Gandhiji and invited him to come and see for himself if the work was done as per his instructions.
“But this is not where I wanted them,” Gandhiji exclaimed, “when I said opposite, I did not mean on the other side, but diagonally opposite – there, in the northern corner.”
“Right,” sighed the professor. “I’ll do it right away.”
By now, he was huffing and puffing as he carried the bricks across the yard. His hands were bruised, his shoulder was aching and his back was stiff when he returned to Gandhiji.
“The work is done,” he panted. “Now Bapuji, if you would kindly answer my question… ”
“Over here, in this corner, the bricks are blocking the entrance to the garden,” said Gandhiji coolly. “Do you think, professor, we can have them stacked in the eastern corner?”
“But that’s where they were stacked in the first place!” the professor lost his temper. “I am a professor, Bapuji. I came to you with a serious query and you treat me like a labourer. Perhaps, you imagine I cannot grasp your teaching, or perhaps, you cannot express the essence of the Gita in a way that others can understand.”
“My dear friend,” Mahatma Gandhi said, “I have merely given you a practical demonstration by making you practice the Gita’s central teaching. It is just this: do your allotted task without any thought of reward.”
Bhagavad Gita [III–8] says, “Do your allotted work, for action is superior to non-action. Even the normal functioning of your body cannot be accomplished through actionlessness.”
Today, do your work with utmost sincerity, Do not focus on the end result – the money, the promotion or the word of praise from your superior. Simply perform the task allotted to you with complete and unwavering focus; do it with all your heart. You will feel a deep sense of fulfillment and peace when you work with this spirit.