Understanding Seva

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Seva is selfless service towards something beyond ourselves. It is a way to spread love and compassion and ultimately seva is selfless service to our guru.

What makes service selfless is that we do it without any attachment or expectation. This seems to go against what we are bombarded with in modern western society, however, doing selfless service includes not being attached to or affected by the results.

In the Bhagavad Gita Chapter 2 Verse 47 Krishna says, “You have a right to action, but only to action, never to it’s fruits; let not the fruits of your work be your motive, neither let there be in you any attachment to inactivity.”

“You have a right to action, but only to action, never to it’s fruits; let not the fruits of your work be your motive, neither let there be in you any attachment to inactivity.”
Bhagavad Gita, 2.47

This verse is a beautiful reminder: never consider yourself to be the cause of the results of your activities, nor be attached to inaction. Do actions without egoism or selfish motive. The intention is of utmost importance.

To achieve this we need to nurture and cultivate a loving attitude toward the service we are doing. The key is to truly do it with Love, then we can manage any given situation. Cultivating Love for humanity is a step towards being humble.

Seva can also be a sadhana to help us deepen our relationship with God. When done with this intention, it helps us move beyond ourselves to focus on giving to others. In this way, we grow into opening our hearts to see God in each and every person around us. Padaseva Bhakti is one of the nine forms of bhakti. It is service to the Lotus Feet of the Lord and is a path to opening your heart and developing bhakti with yourself.

Padaseva Bhakti is one of the nine forms of bhakti. It is service to the Lotus Feet of the Lord and is a path to opening your heart and developing bhakti with yourself.

Often seva will involve teamwork. Disagreements are normal, healthy even, as it is a way for people to bounce ideas off each other. In every problem there is a solution and in every situation we need to ask the same questions: am I serving selflessly or selfishly? Ultimately is this for Guruji or my ego?

In reality, though seva is not for the guru, the guru is fully realised and needs nothing from us but He is giving us seva for our benefit. Through seva we can utilize our existing skills to enable us to help others. Through seva, we may also be put in a position to learn new skills or work on something we need to and often this can involve being taken out of our comfort zone. It may be challenging, but remember these are not random challenges. They are there for us to recognize, solve and grow. A certain seva may come to an end. That is to say, our seva can change as we evolve and change. We need to be humble to see that others deserve the opportunity to do seva and therefore, hand over our position to someone who can take it to the next level.

A certain seva may come to an end. That is to say, our seva can change as we evolve and change. We need to be humble to see that others deserve the opportunity to do seva and therefore, hand over our position to someone who can take it to the next level. 

Just as I thought I could not take on any more seva, I was asked to join a sangha-growing project. Everyone involved is doing seva whilst simultaneously creating a sangha, a community of people working together with a common goal. There have been the usual challenges of managing seva and being a fulltime mother but the joy of being involved has obliterated any problem which tried to surface. During this seva I got to feel the true meaning of service: to be in-tune with what the master is giving, to listen and attune myself to what the Master wants me to do and become. 

If want an example of true service, we can take examples from people who lived in perfect service. Namely, the saints. Take Saint Janabai for example. She decided at the age of seven years old that she was going to dedicate her life to serving Panduranga and became the disciple of Saint Namdev. She performed her service with gratitude, humility, and single-pointed devotion to Panduranga. She was so surrendered to Him and living in the moment that Sri Krishna Himself would visit her and serve with her. He simply could not resist the bhav, this spiritual feeling of devotion, where she had immersed herself in her service for Him. Her many stories with Panduranga show us that God is hungry for the love and attention of a devotee.

Whatever you do, whatever you enjoy, whatever you sacrifice, whatever you give, whatever energy of tapasya, whatever the soul’s will or effort that you put forth, make it an offering unto me.” Bhagavad Gita 9.27

 

 


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