Seva (Service unto the Absolute Truth performed as part of spiritual practice) is an important part of sadhana (Spiritual practice) being performed for God-realisation. Seva should be performed in such a manner that our personality defects get removed, virtues are imbibed, Anand (Bliss) is obtained and spiritual progress is attained rapidly. This concern should always occupy our subconscious while performing seva. Otherwise, it will become difficult for us to attain the objective of ‘God-realisation through seva’. Therefore, the aspects as given ahead, should be perused.
1. Accept allotted seva sincerely
When a seeker tells us seva, it should be accepted sincerely. When we follow this principle, seva gets performed by us with sincerity. Once we start performing seva sincerely, we also start thinking about how can it be performed better by utilising the mind and intellect. Similarly, we receive assistance from God during seva. God suggests many ways by which seva can be improved further. Thus, we obtain satisfaction and Anand if the seva is performed in this manner. Otherwise, seva gets performed just for the sake of doing, and satisfaction is not obtained while performing it.
2. Performing every seva as Guruseva with a sense of gratitude
To get darshan (Sight) of the Guru and obtain seva allotted by Him are fortunate events in our life. Even though Paratpar Guru does not allot us seva personally or directly, everybody should have bhav (Spiritual emotion) that seva is allotted to us only due to the Guru’s grace, so that the seva becomes Guruseva. Seva should be performed with a sense of gratitude that ‘I was allotted seva for my emancipation. The seva received because of His infinite grace should be completed as expected by Him, meaning, in a perfect manner and be full of bhav’.
2A. Make a resolve to complete seva perfectly
Everybody is not fortunate enough to get Guruseva. We should realise that we have received the golden opportunity to perform seva just because we are fortunate. If we were to make a resolve that ‘I will try to complete the seva in a perfect manner with the Guru’s grace’, our efforts will be directed accordingly. Sant Tukaram Maharaj says – ‘The outcome of any action depends on the strength of the resolve to perform it’.
3. Finding the scope of seva
The scope of seva means introspection of various aspects such as its objective, who are the other seekers involved in it, what is my role in the seva, what should I achieve through seva etc. The scope is useful for understanding the finer points involved in seva and to complete it perfectly.
4. Preparing a checklist for seva
A list needs to be prepared about the aspects on which attention has to be paid while performing seva and tick marking after each aspect is completed. This will avoid overlooking any aspect of seva, and the possibility of committing mistakes in the seva will be minimised.
4A. Abiding by the policies incorporated in seva
If some policies are decided with respect to our seva, then they need to be considered while performing seva, since they are based on experience of other seekers. These policies should be read and followed.
If any new aspect or policy strikes you while performing seva, it should be brought to the notice of the seekers responsible for that particular seva and included in the checklist or policies. As a result, it becomes easier to perform a similar seva in the future; this is also a part of sadhana.
5. Abiding by karyapaddhati
A specific karyapaddhati (Standard Operating Procedure) is devised for every seva so as to make it easy, accurate and complete in the least time. In case of new seva, its karyapaddhati should be initially devised. This helps in maintaining discipline.
6. Performing seva without ego
To ‘assume’ the doership of seva is an egoistic thought. Therefore, before beginning the seva, surrender unto God and pray – O’ God ! You only get the seva performed through me perfectly. Make me perceive that You only are the doer and actuator’. After the seva has been completed, express gratitude unto the Holy feet of God with an attitude of surrender – O’ God ! You only have got this seva performed through me. I surrender unto You and express my gratitude unto Your Holy feet’. This will help reduce the doership and ego; and when done consistently, you will get the Anubhuti (Spiritual experience) that God only has got the seva performed through you.
7. Pay attention whether sadhana is getting performed through seva !
Make efforts to perform seva by paying attention whether your sadhana is getting performed through seva.
8. Making efforts for removing personality defects and nurturing virtues
Make efforts to remove personality defects by finding out which mistakes have been committed in the seva due to personality defects. Similarly, introspect about the virtues that can be nurtured through a particular seva and try to imbibe these. This will result in completing the seva without any mistakes and enable us to imbibe virtues. Paratpar Guru (Dr.) Athavale always tells us that every mistake takes us farther from God.
9. Feeling remorse for mistakes and taking atonement
Whenever we perform a deed and commit a mistake while performing it, we earn a demerit. It is essential to take atonement to cleanse the demerit. We should feel remorse over every mistake. Only when we feel remorse, we make efforts not to repeat it and take atonement. We should make a list of atonements required to be taken for various mistakes and mark accordingly after the atonement has been taken. This will ensure that no atonement remains pending, and cleansing of demerits also takes place faster.
10. Importance of following time-
limit set for seva and performing seva on priority
Pay attention whether seva is getting completed within the time-limit set for it. The nature of certain sevas necessitates their completion within the time-limit set for them. Hence, it is important that every seva is performed within the time-limit and on priority. When we are busy in some seva, it is necessary to perform other deeds also according to the dictum – ‘Whatever you see is your duty’.
11. Progressing spiritually through seva in the steps of
from one’s ‘own wish’ to ‘other’s wish’ and from ‘other’s wish’ to ‘God’s wish’
Preferring seva which one likes means nurturing own likes and dislikes in seva. This is one’s ‘own wish’ and performing allotted seva without nurturing own likes and dislikes is ‘other’s wish’. This helps in the dissolution of the mind and intellect. The next step is ‘God’s wish’. Performing seva by trying to comprehend God’s wish and expectations of the Guru takes us gradually to the next steps in spiritual progress.
12. Necessity to perform seva by shouldering responsibility
When we perform seva by shouldering responsibility, our virtue of leadership gets enhanced besides imbibing other virtues. Our efficiency and self-confidence also rise. Many a time, we avoid performing seva by shouldering responsibility, which is harmful to our spiritual progress.
13. Narrating the mistakes to co-seekers
When the mistakes of a co-seeker who is performing seva with us come to our notice, they should be brought to his notice with the intention of assisting him. This is our samashti sadhana (Spiritual practice for the benefit of the society). Many a time, we avoid bringing mistakes of co-seekers to their notice due to our personality defects of emotionalism, by assuming that the seekers may feel bad if we do so. Such actions cause harm not only to us but also to the co-seekers.
14. Giving a review of the seva along with the mistakes
The review of the seva should be given to the responsible seekers within a time frame. The review should be given along with the mistakes committed. Many a time, we prefer to boast of the good aspects of seva performed by us and avoid talking about our mistakes. This amounts to preserving our image, which must be avoided. If we were to tell our mistakes, it would facilitate the responsible seeker to explain to us the appropriate perspective.
15. Accepting mistakes
Whenever anybody tells our mistakes in seva, we should accept them without any reservations. No clarification should be given about it. Clarifying means not accepting the mistakes. Instead, we should always think about our shortcomings in performing seva. Even if no mistakes have been committed, find out at which level you have fallen short.
16. Learning from mistakes
We should always remain in a state of learning. We should introspect over aspects such as – What did I learn from the seva, seekers participating in the seva and the mistakes committed by me in the seva. We should experience Anand through learning, by having a sense of gratitude that ‘God has taught me’.
Finally, the important thing is to offer Guruseva unto the Holy feet of Gurudev and pray that may He allot you similar sevas repeatedly because seva is a medium to obtain the Guru’s grace.
– Sanatan’s Saint, Sadguru Satyavan Kadam (Sanatan Ashram, Ramnathi, Goa.)
(The Anubhutis above are personal Anubhutis of seekers as per the dictum ‘Wherever there is bhav, there is God’. These may not be experienced by everyone. – Editor)
We should experience Anand through learning, by having a sense of gratitude that ‘God has taught me’ !