This is the next line of the “Sadhana Karu Pyare” series.
तन से मन से धन से गुरु की, करहु सेवा प्यारे
tan se man se dhan se guru kī, karahu sevā pyāre
It is impossible to understand God, with our human and material intellect. Even if the most intelligent person tries to attain God through his intellect, it will not be possible. This is because spiritual knowledge is Divine and beyond our material senses, whereas our mind is material or Mayic in nature. With this material mind and intellect, we can only understand material concepts.
In the spiritual realm, our material intellect will not help. Therefore, we cannot understand God with our material mind. Hence, we can gain spiritual knowledge only through a Guru.
In the spiritual world, it is only by the grace of Guru that we will attain knowledge, not solely by our own efforts. So, to receive his grace, we will have to serve him. What is the meaning of seva? Seva means to continuously feel that one has no capability of serving the Lord. Secondly, doing seva with complete surrender of the mind and increasing the feeling of ‘giving’ and not ‘receiving’. Lastly, we should not have any pride in having served him or having done a lot of seva. Now, only a God-realized Saint can perform this type of seva, whose heart has been completely purified. Those who are under the influence of Maya cannot have this kind of servitude. So, God says: “In the preliminary stages, you will not get seva of God but you will get the opportunity to serve a Guru. If you serve your Guru to the best of your capabilities, you will then receive the seva of God.”
Now how will we perform this kind of Guru seva? There are various grades and classes of seva. General seva in the ashram, or personal service to Guru etc. Practically, there are three forms of seva: physical, monetary, and mental. Consciousness of surrender, faithful and constant remembrance of one’s Guru is called seva of the mind.
The best form of seva is done with the complete involvement of the mind. To constantly think about how to give pleasure to our Guru is true seva. This thought should be firm in our mind. How will we reach that stage? One can say, “We are not able to attach our mind.” This leads us to the next (lower) level – seva done with our physical body. To give comfort to the lotus feet of our Gurudev, cleaning, cooking, washing, etc. Now one can say that “Swamiji, I work in an office so I cannot afford to spend my time in the ashram. How can I serve my Guru?” This category of devotees can do seva through wealth. Most of us have full time employment and tend to work 10-12 hours a day. We should dedicate this work to our Guru. After retaining enough to run the house, we must surrender the fruits of this labour to him. This is the third class of seva.
In the starting stages, one should start with the third class of seva and reach the top most class of seva (service with full involvement of the mind). That means when we start doing sincere seva through wealth, then we will automatically get a feeling of serving with our body.
When we start doing seva with our body, the mind will gradually be attached to God and Guru. With the attachment of mind, complete surrender (mind and intellect) will automatically follow.
A Guru will never measure how much seva you have done. He will judge you based on your seva bhavana (feeling of servitude). Supposing one does seva of wealth. The importance of his contribution depends on his capacity or ability. One rupee of a poor man could be more valuable than 1 lakh rupees from a rich person.
Here is an interesting piece of history. When the Hindu Banaras University in Kashi was being constructed, the names of the donors were displayed on a board. Amongst them was the name of a ‘Rickshaw’ puller who donated 75 paise. Everybody asked why his name was put on the board as he had donated such a small amount. It was said that the 75 paise was equal to 5 days of his income and hence it had a lot of significance, as it was a great sacrifice for him.
What seva we do is not a matter of importance, rather how much feeling of servitude and surrender we have towards a Guru is important. So, we have to reach the state of complete surrender one day.
When Hanuman ji met Vibhishan in Lanka, Vibhishan asked “I have been chanting the name of ‘Ram’ for a long time, yet He has not bestowed His grace upon me.” Hanuman ji replied “You chanted the name of Ram many times but never served Him. You never had the feeling of servitude that is why you have not yet received His Grace.” Hence, by serving our Guru with a deep feeling of servitude and by pleasing him, we can receive his grace in the form of knowledge about God, soul and maya.
Some people think that devotion alone is a more effective way to improve devotional experiences than seva. So, ignoring seva, they stick to devotion, but it is the seva which enhances devotional experiences.
Seva is synonymous with surrender. Normally every faithful disciple renders all the three types of services to his Guru according to his means and to the extent of his surrender. His amount of seva becomes the degree of grace which he receives from his Guru. This grace purifies his heart and improves his devotional experiences. Thus, seva (not devotion by itself) becomes the cause of spiritual progress.
Hence, a faithful servant is called a disciple and he receives the grace of his Guru according to the intensity of his faithfulness and the amount of his service. Selfless seva followed by devotion ensures Divine Love, and willingly following the wish or order of one’s Guru is called seva.