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  Volume 3 - Issue 7
JULY 2005



Talk given by Sri Rangarajan in Swami’s Presence on 30th September 2003. A former student of SSSIHL
and currently faculty member in the School of Business Management, Prashanthi Nilayam.

I offer my humble Pranams at Bhagavan's Lotus Feet.

Most beloved Bhagavan, revered elders, dear brothers and sisters.

It is a great honour to speak in His Divine Presence and I am very grateful for that opportunity. We all know that the Grama Seva (serving in the villages) just commenced yesterday morning, so this week is going to be a week of selfless service and love. It is very rare to find a project of such magnitude and dimensions carried out and undertaken by students with such enthusiasm, anywhere in the world. This can happen only in Bhagavan's Divine Presence. Therefore I feel it is very appropriate to speak on the topic of service and I seek Bhagavan's permission for the same.

The first thought that strikes me is the beautiful portrait of Bhagavan which decorates the wall as soon as we enter the Super Speciality Hospital in Puttaparthi. Under this beautiful portrait is written the phrase "Paropakaaraartham idam shareeram". Bhagavan says 'The very purpose of human life is to serve our fellow brothers'. This is the very objective of acquiring this body, which is a gift of the Lord.

What is Service?
Now what is service? Is it mere work? We always work, if not for others, then for ourselves. But then what is it that transforms this work into service? Let us recall what Bhagavan has mentioned about service. Work can be transformed into service only when it follows certain conditions; only when it is carried out in a particular way and Bhagavan lays so much stress on service that He says "Hands that serve are holier than lips that pray".

How Should Service Be Done?

First Aspect: Feeling of Oneness
Now the first aspect of service that Bhagavan mentions is that it should be done with the feeling of oneness. He says that the proper study of mankind is man. When an elderly devotee prayed to Bhagavan to elucidate this point Swami immediately asked him, “Suppose you were walking in a forest and a thorn pricks your leg what would you do?” The devotee said that he would remove the thorn from his leg. And then Bhagavan asked, "How would you do it?" The devotee was rather confused and said "Swami, obviously with my hand." Then Swami said "Why would you do it? The hand removes the thorn instantly from the leg because the moment the thorn pricks the leg, the hand also feels the pain. The legs and the hand are all part of one body and every part of the body feels the pain. So too, the entire world is the body of God and when any part of this world feels pain or suffers, every other part should feel it in the heart and should respond to it, just as the hand responds to the thorn in the leg." This is the way service should be done and I wonder whether we can even move close to it.

Second Aspect: 'Offer Every Act to God'
The second aspect of service is: "Sarva Karmo Bhagavat Pritiyatham" that is, "Offer every act to the Lord." How do we do this? Bhagavan taught me this lesson in a very beautiful way. A few years back I had gone to the Super Specialty Hospital to donate blood. After the donation I was sitting there for a few minutes and suddenly I heard an announcement that Bhagavan had just arrived and there was a request that all the doctors, nurses and staff should continue with their work. I thought this is a great chance to have a glimpse of Bhagavan, so I just sat for sometime. To my utter surprise, after a few minutes Bhagavan entered the blood bank. There were some elderly devotees with Swami and Swami was showing them around. He came close to me and smiled and said, "See, he is a lecturer in my institute. Did you give blood?" I said, "Yes Swami, I did give blood." Then with a combination of love and concern on His face, He said "But you did not give Me." I was wondering what Swami meant, as many times Swami's words are so full of deeper wisdom. Even before I could answer, Swami moved off as the lesson had been taught - only I had not learnt it yet.

I kept on introspecting on Swami’s meaning; did it mean I should give blood to Bhagavan? It was only days later that it slowly dawned on me that Bhagavan says “Whatever you do, do it for Me.” When I went to donate blood the feeling I had was that I am going to give blood for a patient who will be saved by this blood. I never felt that I am going to donate blood to the Swami in that patient. That was the reason I felt Swami asked me ‘Did you give blood to the patient, or to Me?’ His gives so much wisdom in one sentence.

Third Aspect: Pure Selfless Love for God
The third aspect in service is to do it with pure selfless love for God. And the example that comes to me is that of Mother Theresa, whose only purpose in life was to bring succour to people who had nobody with them during the last days of their life. On one occasion she discovered a man in the drains of Kolkata. He had been there for some time; his body was decaying and maggots were eating into his flesh. She brought him to the ashram and was cleaning his wounds. Just then, Mother Theresa's biographer Malcolm Muggeridge happened to enter the hall and he was aghast. He said "Mother, I would not do that for a million dollars", pat came the reply, "Nor would I, but I am doing this for Jesus." If we do service with that feeling, it will make Bhagavan very happy.

Fourth Aspect : Do Silent Service
The next point Bhagavan makes about service is that it should be silent, there should be no show, no publicity and our Grama Seva is proof of that. Nobody in the whole world knows the Grama Seva is going on and it continues silently. A small incident relevant to this is occurred when Bhagavan had completed the Anantapur Water Project which benefited so many people. Devotees and authorities from the nearby villages happened to come to the Kulwant Hall to pay their respects to Bhagavan. They were all seated in one place and when Bhagavan came for Darshan and approached them, they all bent down and said "Swami, we are so grateful that you have given us water, which is life." Swami said "You need not thank Me. I thank you, for you have given Me the opportunity to serve you." It is difficult to imagine that after completing a project of this magnitude that brings water to millions of people one could be so humble as to say "I thank you". But this is a lesson that we must learn, as we feel so great about the small things that we do.

Fifth Aspect : Quality Not Quantity
The last aspect of Swami's teachings on service concerns quality and not quantity. An example of this is one of Swami's students who had to urge to contribute in a small way to the Hospital when it was being built. Being a young boy he did not know what to do. But he stopped giving his clothes to the washer man and in a few days managed to save 100 rupees. He then came to Darshan with the money and a letter for Bhagavan which said "Swami, so many devotees give you so much. I do not have anything to give materially. All I have is this 100 rupee note for the hundred crore hospital. Will You be gracious enough to accept it - for if it can be used for one brick then I will be happy."

Bhagavan rushed out of the interview room came straight to this boy and asked for the letter, read it and then for the next hour kept on mentioning this boy concerning how much love and feeling he has! We realised how much importance Swami gives to the feelings behind our actions. The feeling and intentions behind what one does are very important. Therefore, Bhagavan says that it is not quantity that is important - we need not do big things - but whatever little role we have in our lives, if we do that as an offering to the Lord, with pure selfless love, with a feeling of oneness and humility, then I think it can be termed service in the true sense.

Why Should One Do Service

Next, let me move on to why one should do service. This is the age where one questions everything. Gone are the days when youngsters obediently listened to their elders and promptly did what they said. So why should one serve? Bhagavan very clearly says that one very important component of service is to never be under the impression that you are serving others; you are in fact serving yourself and it is for your own good.

The first benefit is that ego is lessened. At least for those few moments when we are serving others we forget ourselves (for the rest of the time we are only concerned about ourselves).

The second benefit that Bhagavan says is that service leads to transformation. I recall respected Indulal Shah made the following beautiful statement, "The service that you do is not as important as what the service does to you." Have I become a better person; have I developed more forbearance; have I reduced my anger; have I become more humble? If nothing like this has happened what is the point of it. So we should really pray to Bhagavan to let us realise that service should bring a change in us. Let us never be under the impression that it is we, who are helping.

The story of the great Shivaji illustrates this. He felt that he was protecting the entire kingdom. His Guru teaches him by taking him to a rock and asking a soldier to break the rock open, in which was found a small pool of water with a frog inside. The Guru asks him "Who is taking care of that frog?" Then it dawned on the great king that it is God who is taking care of everybody.

The third benefit is that when we serve we become sensitive to other people's concerns, needs and pain and it softens our heart. As Mahatma Ghandi said "The most unfortunate thing about today's education is that it has made people's hearts hard like rock." Bhagavan echoes these words, adding that our hearts should be as soft as butter. So service makes the heart soft and more sensitive.

At this juncture I would like to share how Bhagavan taught me to be more sensitive to small things. In my first interview I was feeling dazed and looking at Swami all the time. Swami spoke to several other devotees, materialised rings and Vibhuti. At the end of the interview Bhagavan distributes Vibhuti Prasadam to all the devotees. Bhagavan went to the side table picked up the bag and started distributing the Vibhuti. I kept staring at Him the whole time thinking ‘This is God and I am so close to Him for the first time’. Normally, we become lost in that feeling and forget our most primary duties. Then I saw a young man from overseas rush to Swami and say "Swami, please let me hold it." Believe me Swami was so pleased; He turned to me and said, "See". I felt so ashamed that I prayed ‘Just give me one more opportunity Swami, I will never forget this in my life’.

I kept praying and luckily the next day, He called us for interview. Right from the morning I had been praying ‘Swami give me one more chance, I will show You that I have learnt the lesson’. Evening came and we were called for interview and went inside. I saw the Vibhuti bag on the table and I told myself that I would hold the bag for Swami. The interview was over, Swami materialised lockets and Vibhuti and towards the end I was waiting like an athlete for the 100m sprint. I told myself ‘The moment Swami gets up I will rush towards Him’ and that is exactly what I did. Swami looked at me, as if to say, ‘What are you doing?’ But when I took the bag, the joy that I saw on Bhagavan's face was the joy of a Mother when the child learns his lesson. He smiled so beautifully, looked at some men sitting in the corner of the interview room and said "See". So I believe, this is the way God teaches, one to the other and the cycle goes on.

Service basically is for killing the ego, or transforming ourselves and above all for sensitising us, or softening our hearts. Swami has been engaged in selfless service to humanity for the last 78 years. Every second His life is a saga of selfless service. He tells us to do, but He also shows us. As Bhagavan says, He is not an ordinary teacher. He is a physical director who does it Himself; Swami literally demonstrates - "I do and I ask you to do."

Need of the Hour
The need of the hour is to get inspired by Him. The feeling in my heart is 'Swami please take rest, now we will do. You command us’. It is the role of the youth today to be inspired by Bhagavan and if all of us in the world get together and say ‘Swami, we will do your command’ in no time there can be absolute peace and harmony in the world - is it so difficult? It is just that we have to take that first step including me. So I would like to conclude this small talk by this small and humble prayer to Bhagavan on behalf of everybody here; because all of us are co-travellers on this journey towards God, "Swami please give us the strength to serve, because once we engage in selfless service Bhakti, Jnana, Vairagya, including Moksha will be bestowed on us - we do not need to separately pray for it. So let us resolve that with Bhagavan's Grace we are able to serve our brothers to His satisfaction.

Thank You
Jai Sai Ram.

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