Born to Serve

Place: Poornachandra Auditorium Date: 10-11-87
Rendering service selflessly
With a compassionate heart
Is alone true service.
One is bound to attain peace
If he serves in  a friendly spirit
This is the truth
This is the truth.

You have to recognise that life is meant for selfless service and not to be lived for selfish purposes. Only through such service can the oneness of mankind be experienced. Unselfish service is the sheet-anchor of Karma Yoga (the Yoga of Action). The basis of yoga is disciplining the mind an dthe body through disinterested service.

Society honours only the persons who serve society. Such persons earn the grace of God. Every individual has to realise the paramount importance of slefless service. The spirit of service should be coupled with readiness for sacrifice. Only then it can be called selfless service free from any taint of self-interest. Such service lends savour to life.

Love and service

Universal love sustains life by its nourishment. Love is the life-breath of man. Magnanimity of spirit lends fragrance to life.

However eminent a person may be, he has to realise that the mainn purpose of life is to render dedicated service to one's fellowmen. The realtionship between mother and child, preceptor and disciple, God and  devotee is based on mutual dependence. There cannot be a child without a mother, a disciple without a teacher, a devotee without God. Each is associated with the other in an inextricable bond.

One should be prepared to serve others than choose to be served by them. Moreover, there is nothing meritorious in serving those who are high above us. For one thing, they can command the services of attendants. Rendering service to those who are in the same position as ourselves is also not commendable. Service should be rendered to those who are worse than ourselves ad who are neglected by the world.

There are three levels of people in the world. At the highest level are those who may be placed in the category of Lakshmi-Narayana. Those who are in the same stage as ourselves are in the category of Aswatha-Narayana. Those who are poorer than ourselves may be described as Daridra-Narayana. There is no need to render service to one who is Lakshmi-Narayana, as there will be servants to take care of him. Aswatha-Narayana is the type of person who is filled with desires and is never contented, whatever his accomplishments or earnings. Service to such persons is unnecessary. It is the weak, the destitute and the helpless who need to be served. Even in rendering service to such persons, there should be no feeling that we are serving "others". We should feel that we are serving the Lord (Narayana) who dwells in them.

When service is rendered in a total spirit of dedication, with concentration of thought, word and deed, the heart gets sanctified. Without purity of heart there can be no spiritual progress.

Active Workers

"Active Workers" (in the Sai movement) should have no feelings of arrogance or ostentation in carrying on their activities. They must be broadminded, completely free from selfish concerns, and must develop love towards all. Active workers are the spinal chord of the Sai Organisation. They should understand what are human qualities and practise them in their life. Without having the right attitude, service done demonstratively in a spirit of self-conceit is a travesty of service. They should rid themselves of the sense of "mine" and "thine".

Pre-occupation with one's own welfare and happiness is the bane of the dualistic mentality. It breeds discontent and sorrow. Feelings of attachment and aversion sully  the mind and only through service can such a mind be purified. External observance like bathing several times a day and smearing Vibhuti all over and mouthing mantras mechanically will not serve to cleanse the mind of  impurities. These are only outward show, with nothing spiritual about them. Transcendental knowledge that can be got through diligent enquiry and steadfast faith and which will help to raise man from the animal level is being ignored today. No effort is being made to acquire this knowledge. Perceiving untruth and treating truth as untruth, men are immersed in accumulating ephemeral objects considering them as permanent. Men must get out of this narrow groove. They must outgrow their selfish tendencies and learn to regard the whole of mankind as one family. This is true service. Few have such a large-hearted approach today.

The first requisite, therefore, is to get rid of all the bad thoughts, the selfishness, pride and other undesirable qualities from the heart so that the spirit of love can find its rightful place in it. Only a heart filled with love is pure and holy. Hence, you should take up service activities in a loving spirit. You should not be concerned about name or fame.  Fame is not a commercial product or a commodity that can be got from someone. It flows spontaneously like a river, which starts in a small way, but gathers volume as it goes along. Do not go afetr name or distinction. Concentrate your mind upon achieving your objectives. Fill your heart with love and engage yourself in service. The man who cannot do service to others is no man at all.

Born to Serve

We must consider that we have taken birth only to render service to society as a sacred duty. Whatever small service we may do, if we do it in the right spirit, serving with no thought of self, we shall be doing something commendable and worthwhile. An act of service by itself may be a small thing. But it must be done wholeheartedly. Just as a cow transforms whatever it may consume into sweet, wholesome milk, any kind of service done with a pure hearth will result in great good. You should not have any returns in view in rendering service. "This is my duty. I am born to serve" - it is with such an attitude that you should take to service.

Service and Ability

All beings in creation are living by rendering mutual service and no one can be considered superior to another. Every person should render service according to his capacity and the sphere of his activities.

But each should take part in service activity according to his ability, equipment and field of work. Any individual may offer worship and engage in spiritual activities according to his preferences. But, in my view, the merit to be gained through service is greater than what can be got through these religious observances. (Neither by penances nor baths in sacred waters, the study of scripture nor through meditation can the ocean of samsara be crossed without rendering service to th good.)

Whatever pligrimages we may undertake, our hearts hanker only after worldy objects and hence no cleaning of the heart occurs. The individual quest for his liberation (Mukti) is self centred. This is not right. One should strive to help others also to achieve liberation. This is true service. Few have such a large-hearted approach today.

Shed Selfishness

How can those who have been immersed ceaselessly in selfish pursuits earn the grace of God? Therefore, to begin with, there must be realisation of the divinity that is inherent in all human beings and which pervades the entire Cosmos. The unity that subsumes the diversity has to be understood to grasp the nature  of divinity. So long as there is no understanding of divinity, there can be no correct undertanding of even human nature. Eliminate selfishness, which is the cause of dualism and its brood of opposites, joy and sorrow, likes and dislikes. The egoist cannot understand his own true nature, much less that of others.  Hence the first step is understanding one's own self. Every one refers to "I" but where is it located? And wherefrom does it arise? The ancient scriptures described the seat of "I" (Ahamkaram) as  Hridayam (the  heart)This may suggest that "I" is somewhere in the body. But this  is not correct.  Hridayam is all-pervasive.  It is otherwise known as Atma. Some consider that the Atma dwells in the heart. This is also wrong. Hridayam and Atma are one and to view them as different entities is wrong. If this is the case, it may be asked: Why are people plunged in the darkness of ignorance? it is beacause their vision does not extend  up to the mind. One who is  unable to go beyond  the mind cannot escape from the shroud of ignorance. The way out of this condition is to realize that the moon and the sun, the mind  derives its light from the Atma and when the vision is turned towards the Atma the mind fades or ceases to shine.

The Spirit of Love

It is necessary to realise that the Atma is all-pervasive and cultivate a feeling of love for all. The Cosmos (Viswam) is a projection of the Divine (Vishnuswaroopam). There is no need to search in any particular place for the Divine who is omnipresent.  Fromal religious observances or spiritual scholarship will not lead to God-realisation. It is not intellectual eminence that is required for  spirtual sadhana. It is better to have a single person with a good and kind heart than a hundred vainglorious intellectuals. We should train ourselves to become good men, who are fit to undertake worthy tasks. If  your minds are filled with  hatred, envy and likes and dislikes, you are not qualified to embark on service activities.

Offer service and receive love. This is the recipe for experiencing Divinity. But today service is not offered wholeheartedly. Few render service with love and hence receive God's grace. Even their love is self-centered and is not all-embracing. Our love should not be confined to our kith and kin. It must extend beyond the family to society as a whole, then to the nation at large, and finally embrace the whole world.

This is the implication of Buddha's call: Sangham saranam gachchaami. Starting from the intellect (Buddhi) one should go beyond the intellect to "Sangham" society. This way, the oneness of the individual and society is realised. But mere recognition of membership of society is not enough. One has to recognise and discharge through service one's obligations to society. That is the implication of the prayer: Dharmam Saranam Gachchaami. Doing service in the right spirit is Dharma.

The Path to God

Service is also the path to God realisation. God is the embodiment of Love, Truth and Peace. Therefore, to realise God one has to develop love, adhee to Truth and experience Peace within oneself. The human body is like a hariot and the Atma is the charioteer. The bodies may have different forms and names. But the Atma is one and the same. It is essential to recognise the unity  that underlies the apparent diversity. For instance, hunger is common to all, though the kind of food through which it is appeased may very from an emperor to a beggar. Likewise, joy and grief, birth and death are common to all. The Atma is common to everyone. Recognising this oneness, they should engage themselves in service to all. Unfortunatley, there is no feeling of unity today in the world. All the problems bedevelling mankind are due to the absence of unity.

Promote Unity

The foremost duty of Sai Organisations is to promote unity on the basis that all are sparks of the Divine and constitute one family. Without realising this basic truth, there is no use in rendering any kind of service. There can be no sacredness in service, if good thoughts and good feelings are absent. Service as an act of righteousness (Dharma) can be offered only by one who is pure in heart, selfless and equal towards everyone (Samathva).

No Place for Envy

Sai Sevaks should cultivate a spirit of tolerance and sernity to be able to render social service effectively. It is unbecoming of Sai Organisations for anyone in them to bear ill-will or envy towards others. All should behave as children of one mother. Consider that everyone is an ambodiment of the Divine Atma. Only then you can render service with zeal and vigour. Whatever may be one's wealth or position, in the sphere of service he should regard himself as equal with everyone else. All should bear in mind that wealth and position are not permanent. What is it that can be achieved through these? You get what is destined for you and lose what you are fated to lose. Neither of these can be prevented by any subterfuges. Only the grace of the Divine will remain for ever.

There are many who claim to be rendering social service. But selfish motives are present even in the field of service. Such selfishness should not have any place in Sai Organisations. The individual and the society are one. Wheatever one does for society is also good for him. When service is done in that spirit, the individual as well as society derive benefit from it. It may not be easy to cultivate such a sense of identity. But through persistent effort one can get over the sense of "mine" and "thine" and identify oneself with society at large. Once the will is there, anything can be accomplished. The power of a person's sankalpa (resolution) will outlast him.

Offering to God

All service should be regarded as an offering to God and every oppotrunity to serve should be welcomed as a gift from God. When service is done in this spirit, it will lead in due course to Self-realisation.

It is this kind of selfless, spiritually-oriented service that is needed today.  To a world riddled with conflict and chaos, this will provide a climate of serene peace.

Regard yourselves as brothers in a family. But do not stop there. Go beyond kinship to the realisation of Atmic unity. You have to march from the physical (the Annamaya) to Vijnanamaya (the Higher Wisdom) and on to the state of Divine bliss (Anandamaya). Shed completely all selfishness and self-interest and enter upon service activities as the highest purpose of life. Service must become your life-breath. You must become ideal sevaks and set an example to the world.