This great philosopher, preaching the highest philosophy, yet had the deepest sympathy for the lowest of animals, and never put forth any claims for himself. He is the ideal Karma-Yogi, acting entirely without motive, and the history of humanity shows him to have been the greatest man ever born; beyond compare the greatest combination of heart and brain that ever existed, the greatest soul-power that has even been manifested. He is the first great reformer the world has seen. He was the first who dared to say, “Believe not because some old manuscripts are produced, believe not because it is your national belief, because you have been made to believe it from your childhood; but reason it all out, and after you have analysed it, then, if you find that it will do good to one and all, believe it, live up to it, and help others to live up to it.” He works best who works without any motive, neither for money, nor for fame, nor for anything else; and when a man can do that, he will be a Buddha, and out of him will come the power to work in such a manner as will transform the world. This man represents the very highest ideal of Karma-Yoga. (I, 117- 118)
Swamiji adored Sri Buddha. Whenever he talked about Karma yoga he used to mention Sri Buddha not only as a great Yogi and Tyagi but also as a Karma yogi par excellence. Buddha is the only prophet who said “I do not care to know your various theories about God. What is the use of discussing all the subtle doctrines about the soul? Do good and be good. And this will take you to freedom and to whatever truth there is.” This true Karma Yogi spread the great consolation of Ahimsa through his words and deeds. He filled the minds of his people, which were acquiring cruel tendencies through animal sacrifices for Yagas and Yajnas, with compassion based on Ahimsa. Thus he could transform the people of the whole country.
Swamiji used to say that one who does karma without looking for any benefit whatsoever, either wealth or fame, would get transformed into Buddha. He would then acquire the power to do work by which he can transform the whole world. Blessed indeed is Karma Bhumi Bharat where we can even now find men of this caliber.
The great Malayali poet Vallathole, writing about Gandhiji in his immortal poem ‘My Teacher’ says “only the land which mothered Bhagavat Gita can produce a Karma Yogi of this stature.” These words ring true in the case of Sri Buddha as well