Through seva, one jivaatma connects with another, realising that each is a reflection of the same param-aatma.
Seva can range from providing food, clothing, shelter to education, medical and developmental care. It can also be as simple as paying compliments, making people laugh, changing their moods, counselling them, and resolving their issues. Focus on environmental aspects that keep the planet healthy, including greening spaces and not endangering its natural resources, also counts for seva. Nurturing life takes on another dimension when you focus on the wellbeing of those incapable of looking after themselves, especially children, elderly and the disabled. The purpose of seva is also to enhance the quality of existence of those you serve. So besides providing for their material needs, it is significant to focus on their mental and spiritual growth. Mentoring and sharing gyan /spiritual knowledge is the highest form of seva since by undertaking it, you become the facilitator for another’s spiritual transformation.
Exemplary mentor, the mahaguru, told a few of his disciples, “I carry you on my shoulders so that you can see much farther than I can”. Aware that a healthy body and satiated mind were precursors to spiritual pursuits, he also healed people and fulfilled their desires. His life of frugality, simplicity and almost zero-obligation set the bar very high but also gave a tremendous boost of confidence to spiritual aspirants. It made it easier for them to surrender to his grace and receive guidance.
For Gurudev, seva was not merely the implementation of a philosophical viewpoint but also the raison d’etre. His mission was to help, heal and uplift beings so that they could realise the divinity they represented. In serving the physical forms of plants, animals and humans, he served their spirits. The permeability of his seva as it extended beyond the physical realm to the spiritual, ensured permanency of the support he provided.
LEVELS OF SEVA
There are four levels of seva. A certain mindset and intention propel each level.
Many people spare their time, effort, or money in another’s service only when they want to feel good about themselves. Seva performed on special occasions like birthdays /anniversaries of family members and loved ones is usually considered philanthropy.
The second level of seva is when you frequently show patterns of helping people, motivated by the desire to make a difference. This kind of seva is a more consistent effort at squaring off your debts.
Serving because it is a duty and not a privilege defines the third level. Such a mindset is usually triggered by the mentorship of a realised being or siddh guru who helps you acknowledge your good luck in being able to serve others. You feel grateful for the opportunity and try to discharge your duty in the best way possible. You realise you are not the doer but the facilitator of seva.
Gurudev usually said, “Seva mein he mewa hai”, meaning “seva is the fruit in itself”. He regarded seva as a destined play between the server and the served. Since seva was the destiny or two, he was neither the doer nor the facilitator but merely the observer of seva.
Even though every breath of the mahaguru was dedicated to seva, being a grihasth he continued to fulfil his obligation as a guru, family man and officegoer. Earning for his living and not accepting anything for his seva further assured him of an obligation-free existence.