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Know, oh man, Grama Seva is Rama Seva!

When love overflows it is Rama Rajya

There is no progress without Love

Without Service there is no hope for man.

Bhagavan Baba’s Grama Seva programme is famous the world over for providing a heart-felt response to the problems faced by India’s village population. As a special feature of Grama Seva, from 2002, Baba sent His most precious property, namely His students, to serve in the villages surrounding Puttaparthi. It was a love-experience for both the students and the villagers who have been used to years of neglect. As Baba stated:

“People in the villages have no medical and educational facilities. They have no drinking water, no sanitary arrangements. They have no food to eat. Provide these facilities for them and thereby realize Divinity. The need of the hour is the man of action, not the one who only talks.

“Serving the poor in the villages is the best form of sadhana. Engage yourselves in social service for the uplift of your village. Banish all differences and unite in the cause of promoting the welfare of everyone in the village. When the villages grow, the cities and the States grow and the Nation on the whole prospers. The progress of the Nation is based upon the progress of the villages. Everyone should be interested in the welfare of the villages.”

Here is a quiz based on this important grass-roots aspect of Bhagavan’s all-encompassing service projects.

For a comprehensive hands-on write up of the Grama Seva experience, please go to our article ‘Love in Action’ in the December 2004 edition.


1. Regarding the attitude of people who depend on the Government for the development of society, Swami has often mentioned: “There are villages where people struggle for want of water to drink. The Government cannot by itself provide all these conveniences. Without the cooperation of the people, the Government cannot do anything. Government is not a free entity. It is based on people's support. It can work only when the people cooperate actively. Without depending on Government, you must carry on the development of society through your own strength. That is real saadhana, real seva.”

On His 62nd birthday, Swami confirmed His declaration: “Take up service in the villages whole-heartedly. I have often declared: Grama seva is Rama seva (service to villages is service to Rama) Ramarajya is the reign of love. Keep aloof from the Government.”

Besides this, what is one of the other three main things that Swami wants us to remember while doing Grama Seva?

2. In a Divine 1972 Discourse, Swami helps us learn what should be stressed on for those who are motivated to participate in Grama Seva: “Every village has to be equipped with four Aalayas (Houses). First, the Bhojan-aalaya (the Eating-house or Hotel), which must provide for a moderate price, clean sustaining food. Of course, man does not feed on such food only. He feeds on pure water and air and the food that he gorges through the eye, the tongue and the sense of touch has also to be free from pollution and poison. Next, the Aarogya-aalaya (the Medicine-House, the Hospital). This has become essential, since man has neither healthy eating habits nor the inclination to adopt them. Third, the Vidyaalaya (the Learning-House, the School), which is a lamp lit to keep darkness away. The School must instruct the young and inspire the old, keep alive the roots of one's native culture. Last, the _______________.”

According to Swami, then what is the most important fourth House that every village should be equipped with to make it a fruitful Grama Seva?

3. In a Divine 2002 Discourse, Swami guides us further: “How should one serve? One should do it in the true spirit of service. When you go to a village for service, you should involve the villagers also in the service activities and motivate them to undertake such sacred work everyday in their village. It is not possible for you to go to the villages everyday. You may go to a village once in a month or two. Therefore, when you involve the villagers in the service activities, they will learn to __________________.”

4. In a Divine 1975 Discourse, while visiting a village, Swami reiterates the most important Seva of all: “The best type of seva is feeding the hungry; the gift of food is referred as Anna-daana (the charity of food). But, no one has the authority to give in charity what has been given by God or be proud of it or even to feel that he has given something in charity. God gave the rains, God fostered the sapling and God ripened the grain; what right have you to call it yours and give it in charity? It is not daana (charity) that you do; you are only offering gratitude to God; you are ____________.”

5. During the 1995 Summer Showers, Swami prompted us to think: “Help pious and needy people alone. If a man is beating another man, will you help him in that act? Always discriminate before jumping to help. Someone asks you for money. You must ask him why he wants money. If he says he is hungry, give him food, not money. His real need is food. If he insists on money, such a person should not be helped. If he is cold, give warm clothes. If he is ill, give medicine. But don’t give money. Why?”

6. In a Divine Discourse from 1976, Swami guides us on how to educate the villagers on the value of nutrients of foods while doing Grama Seva: “Advise the villagers about environmental hygiene and preventive measures. The members of the Sathya Sai Seva Dal have a special duty for this type of service. They have to visit the villages, and after winning the confidence and love of the people, advise them on good food habits and other means of maintaining health. They must also exhort them to resort to the hospital as soon as the first symptoms of ill-health are evident. Early treatment will save the villagers from spending many days in bed away from the fields.”

To what does Swami compare this activity to be?

7. In a Divine Discourse from 1981, Swami encourages women in doing Grama Seva by giving an example: “Old students of the Women's College at Anantapur have an Association working on similar lines. They have named it the Kingdom of Mother Sai. They too are taking on village after village as centres for their educational and health service activities. Girls build walls, put up roofs and thatch houses in order to provide shelter for the homeless! The village folk are struck with admiration and amazement at the skill and enthusiasm the students evince. They visit slums and, with the co-operation of the hutment-dwellers, clean the areas. They move into bazaars and markets and exhort the people to share with them the joy of cleansing the by-lanes and drains. They are trying to provide electric lights to villages which are plunged in darkness when the sun sets.”

What does Bhagavan emphasise will ensure that God will always be with them in their work?

8. In a 1971 Discourse, Swami talks about the benefits of teaching Bala Vikas to kids as an integral part of Grama Seva in the villages: “I desire that you should run a Bala Vikas for your children, where they will learn stories from the scriptures, the epics and the lives of saints belonging to all religions. Children must also be taught habits of cleanliness and mutual help and co-operation. They can also be taught to sing bhajan songs and enact little plays on themes selected from classics. They will also learn habits of discipline, for, these alone can ensure happiness, individual and social.”

According to Swami, what is more important than even the syllabus content while carrying out Bala Vikas?

9. In a Divine Discourse from 1985, Swami stresses on the importance of the role of youth in Grama Seva: “Youth alone can transform youth. The youth of the villages will be inspired when they find you, graduate and post-graduate students, in Khaki work clothes, evincing practical interest in the cleanliness of the environs, the health of the villagers and in fulfilling their needs.”

What tip does Swami give to the youth that will make it easier for them to do the Grama Seva?

10. In a Divine Discourse from 1981, Swami further guides us as to what He would really love to see: “My sankalpa (resolve) is to promote the advancement of villages. The children who come from villages must spend their lives in their own villages in order to develop them in every way. That alone can make their lives worthwhile. This is the Sai Sankalpa - to adopt methods by which they can improve their villages, to implement those methods and to instruct them how to succeed in this mission. Since those born in villages are trekking into towns and settling there, villages are declining. But, towns cannot exist without villages. Villages have to be fostered first. The village is the heart of the town; without it, the town becomes lifeless. Krishna was born in a village; He grew up in the village and developed its prosperity. Its fame became worldwide, on account of Him. So, we should protect and promote the village to such an extent that its renown will spread in all the quarters.”

According to Swami, what should be the ideal set by youth to make any Grama Seva successful?

Dear Reader, did you like this quiz? Is it too difficult? Is it interactive enough? Would you like more such quizzes? Please help us in serving you better by writing to mentioning your name and country. Thank you for your time.

- Heart2Heart Team

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Vol 7 Issue 03 - MARCH 2009
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