Thursday, June 13, 2013

A Sai dream and Service

2nd June:

Last night Swami came into my dream after a very long time. He was loving and gracious and Himself mentioned the problems I was facing, counseling me to be patient.

Then He asked me to do something that caught me by surprise. He asked me to write on the topic of Service and -------. I am unable to recall what the other thing was although in the dream I understood it. I began entertaining doubts as to my ability to write on a topic of which I have very less understanding. Swami read my thoughts and said ‘It is not you, but I who will write it, you just make the efforts.’ When I woke in the morning I knew I had to make the effort. So here I go.

Swami Vivekananda once revealed this secret to his close disciple "After so much tapasya, austerity, I have known that the highest truth is this : HE is present in all beings. These are all manifested forms of Him. There is no other God to seek for! He alone is worshipping God, who serves all beings!"

The concept of service made its first impact on me during the Youth conference held in Parthi in 2000. Swami, in all of His discourses, stressed on His youth to use their lives in the service of our fellow humans and society. We left the conference surcharged with the zeal and enthusiasm to do our best in this divine endeavor.

However my enthusiasm was short-lived. My friends and I thought of various ways to make ourselves useful, but always found that money, resources and time was a factor that deterred us from initiating something by ourselves. So we joined other bigger groups that were already involved in such activities. There too I found that I was in a state of, what is known in economics as disguised employment. Where only 2 people were required there were 4 of us doing the same job. Meaning that my presence or absence there would be of little impact.

Disillusioned, I made some more unsuccessful attempts and then one day gave up. In my prayers I put the matter before Swami praying to Him to help me understand what I was not doing right.

A few years later I was sitting in the interview room in Brindavan. Also in the room was a very old lady who was wheeled in by a maid. Swami introduced that old lady to us very proudly saying “ Do you know, She has been my devotee for 50 years now.” With that Swami went in and brought many small boxes that contained silver items and explained to the lady which box was for who in her family.

At the end of the interview as Swami stood by the door bidding His loving farewell to His children, I lingered back wanting to be the last person to leave. Then I noticed that the maid of the lady was having difficulty in carrying all those boxes as well as wheeling the chair. So quietly I went up to her and whispered “Amma, let me carry that for you.”  “Boy!” Swami’s voice boomed across the room. I turned to look towards Him. “That is Seva!” He said emphatically as He turned and resumed His conversation with other devotees. The impact of Swami’s sudden remark was lost on me. I didn’t think much of it as I carried the boxes upto their residence. After all what was the big deal in carrying a few boxes, light in weight, up till a small distance?

Like always, the understanding of Swami’s potent words came to me by and by as I recollected the interview in my mind over and over again.

There was no way that Swami could have heard me in the physical sense. Being a sevadal at His residence I was trained to communicate softly. Moreover Swami was Himself engrossed in speaking to a prominent person. Why then, would He draw His attention towards me to point out that “ this was Seva.”

It dawned on me that this was His reply to my prayers to help me understand what seva is. He was telling me that seva is not necessarily doing something important or huge or on a mass scale. Anything done unselfishly which relieves a fellow human of even a little stress is worthy of being called Seva. That such seva requires no occasion but can be done anytime, anywhere.

Just recently I finished a tour of India, filming Sai service activities in all the nooks and corners of this sacred land. I saw things and met people who are living examples of His message. Whatever I gathered from this experience, I share here the gist with you –


Rarely does a Poornaavataar descend amongst humanity. His coming is the greatest boon known to mankind. His very presence, every single act, every step, every gesture brings relief and joy to the ailing humanity. But one of His most precious gifts is His wisdom, which when followed acts like a shaft of light leading us unfailingly towards our highest goal in Him.

Sri Krishna gave the lofty wisdom of the Gita, whose principals apply to men of all caste, nationalities and ages. Yet these words were given in the higher Dwapara age and hence many now in the kali age find the Gita too complex to follow. So Sai Krishna has come again to simplify it into – Love all, serve all.

Nama, Japa, Dhyana, Gyana, Bhakti, Karma…have been the divine disciplines recommended by many past Avataars to seeking aspirants. One may wonder what is unique about service for it to merit so much attention.

The secret lies in the simple fact that Swami never meant service as a form of a philanthropic act where a few people with means or better opportunity choose to help the less fortunate in health and wealth as a social responsibility or for a sense of satisfaction; instead Swami expected us to serve our fellow beings as a form of our sadhana, as a spiritual discipline.

How do we perform service as sadhana?

To answer that one must ask how do we normally perform sadhana. We go with our hearts filled with devotion in God’s dwelling be it a mandir or church, and offer with love - flowers or incense at the alter of the Lord, meditating at His feet!

The same spirit must be translated into service.

We must undertake any service with devotion, going to a hospital or slum knowing it to be God’s dwelling place; offering food, clothes, medicines or any assistance, instead of flowers and incense and offer it with loving words, instead of devotional hymns and chants, to the living God in a sick man or poor man or needy man, instead of an altar or a picture of God!

Those who we serve must be loved more then pitying them or feeling sorry for them. It is perhaps for this reason that the teaching of Serve all is preceded by Love all. In this form of sadhana we get the unique opportunity of serving God directly provided we do it in the right spirit.

This is the difference between service performed by most well meaning NGO’s and the sadhana that should be performed by the Sai army in white.  No fruits should be expected in return, even renouncing the idea of deriving satisfaction. The opportunity of such service is the greatest reward in itself.

Often many devotees are so caught up in the logistics of the service that in their efforts to sincerely render relief to the needy they are unable to keep this spirit of sadhana alive.

Here one must also understand the importance of the word ‘ All’ in the sentence Love all, serve all. Philanthropic services are directed only towards the poor and ailing of the society.  Since Swami’s service is a sadhana, we cannot make any such differentiation. The super specialty hospitals created by Swami are for the benefit of everybody – rich or poor. We must serve ‘All’ simply because God dwells in all.


If our service is to be our sadhana then the one who serves is the one being served! Ponder over this statement that the closest devotees of Swami have ever been affirming.

Some years ago when the villagers of Rayalseema area gathered in Parthi to offer their gratitude to Swami for giving them the boon of water in their parched region, Swami turned towards them and stated “ It is not you who need thank Me, it is I who thank you for giving Me the opportunity to serve you.”

This is not humility. This is Swami showing us how to serve in the right spirit. When we do service as sadhana, it is we who benefit and those who we serve are the cause of the benefits we receive. Hence true service benefits both the giver and the receiver.


One can undertake 3 types of service – with the body, with the mind and with the heart.

Serving with the body is known to all. What is serving with the mind or heart?

This universe was created by God’s thought. We as individual aspects of the supreme Spirit are capable of powerful thoughts. Serving with the mind means keeping positive, compassionate and happy thoughts always. Always thinking good for the benefit of one and all.  Samastha Loka Sukhino Bhavantu – should be the motivating principle influencing our thoughts.

Similarly serving with the heart means feeling love for everyone – not only your own friends but strangers, the whole of humanity - even one’s enemies.  We may not be able to interact harmoniously with some people in the society, but there is no reason why we cannot bear love for them in our hearts within.

One must never underestimate the power of serving with the mind and heart. Thoughts are the basis of any reality we create. Good thoughts will always lead to good results for one and all.

Once Swami emerged from the interview room and spoke to all the doctors and teachers sitting in the verandah – “All of you put together are not able to do the kind of service those two do for Me.” Curiously the doctors and teachers looked towards the interview room to see who Bhagawan was talking about. They saw sitting there the pink twins – 2 very old ladies from Australia. Naturally the thought arose that what kind of service could these old ladies perform which superseded the combined service of all of them. Swami then Himself replied “they serve with their mind, with their thoughts!

One of the best forms of mind service is to mentally and deeply chant the mantra "Samastha Loka Sukhino Bhavantu" ( May all beings in all worlds be happy and blessed)

Lest someone think that from here-on they can spend time doing only mind and heart service; one should understand the importance of serving with the body. Swami said that a person has to undergo different types of karmas of the past. Those who perform sadhana are often able to take care of the karmas of the mind which take away one’s peace of mind. But there is also the karma of the body which appears in terms of illnesses and diseases. When one does service with the body, it helps get rid of such karma.

However, just as devotions should be performed purely for the love of God and not for any personal motive; similarly seva should be done purely as a devotional act without considering the personal karmic benefits. Such benefits are received on their own, the sevak need not be mindful of it.


Many of us do service on a weekly basis. When we offer a poor man some food, that man will find only temporary relief, meaning he is bound to feel hungry again.

But when we serve in the right spirit something happens that is bigger then the act of giving food itself. When we serve with love, the recipient gets along with the food that pure feeling of being loved, of being cared for. They may not be able to express such feelings, but the effects of such service is felt by them deep within and even though the effect of food wears off eventually, but that feeling of being loved lingers on and brings a marked improvement in their consciousness even though they may not be aware of it. This is an important effect of serving. The light of love is transferred in the process of service from one soul to another. But for this to happen, the right spirit of service must be entertained by those who serve.


In the prime of his life, he was a notorious thug in the Byculla region of Mumbai. There is no crime he had not committed, no law he hadn't broken. He amassed money and power and spent on his children. The world was scared of him. Life was good.

Time passed. Money left him. All power left him. The world now dared to scorn the once scary figure. Once the whole world sought his company and friendship. Today his family, even his children for who he risked everything in life, deserted him. He was left a bitter man. A few days back he died in the slums of Vile Parle. Before leaving he shared a story with those he knew, who then shared it with us.

When he was left all alone, with none to care for him, he met these strange people who seemed to care. They came every now and then and gave him food and clothing and other medical aid. But more than these essentials, they gave him something his bitter heart deeply desired - Love. These people were the Sairam people, Sai devotees who came to their desolate slum armed with love in their hearts and a smile on their face. They did not know who he was, they just gave love as they did to everyone else.

So moved was he by the efforts of these people, that one day he made it a point to visit the place where these Sairam people came from called Dharmakshetra in Andheri. 'If the followers have such love in their hearts, their Master must be an ocean of love.' And so every evening he would come quietly and enter the temple, touch Swamis feet, sit for some time and quietly depart. Before he died he declared to those around him 'Sri Sathya Sai Baba is the Avataar of Love.'

The Sai devotees who visited the area do not recall giving him any special attention or affection and yet Swami's invisible presence healed his heart, transforming it with His light of Love.

Gives more value to the statement - Love All, Serve All; you never know whose life Swami may transform through your hands, heart and smile.


The following amazing event was related to me by a devotee of Mumbai. He is a gentleman who has dedicated his life to Swami’s work.
On one occasion, after showing Swami some proposal which pleased Him, he asked Swami for Padnamaskar. Swami graciously permitted him to touch His feet. The gentleman explained, “Why do we ask for Padnamaskar? Because our scriptures tell us that when we touch a Divine Beings feet we receive from Him Divine energy which burns away all accumulated sins at the same time cleanses us by taking away any bad habits within us which may be an obstacle on our spiritual path.

A couple of evenings later this man received a phone call from a Doctor with whom he had undertaken many service projects. The doctor sounded excited. He mentioned to him that he had been reading a discourse by Swami and had come across something amazing. Then for some strange reason, as if by some inner command, he felt like calling up this gentleman and sharing this with him.

In this discourse Swami stated that every time a soul unselfishly serves another soul, they get the divine punya (merit) equivalent to a padnamaskar of a Divine being. The effects of such punya are liberating. Swami emphasized on this repeatedly, saying that “I have come only to teach this important lesson, and there is nothing beyond this to teach.”    

The gentleman stated that instantly the memory of his receiving padnamaskar a few days back flashed in his mind, and he knew that this divine message was Swami’s further grace on him.


It has been my great privilege to have observed Swami at close quarters while serving Him in Trayee Brindavan. What I always found supremely endearing was the love and concern Swami always showed in small and simple ways towards His devotees. He never missed an opportunity to serve His children. Let me end this note with this incident that was related to me by the Hyderabad youth leader.

Once Swami called a collector and a few youth (Hyderabad) to an interview. In the course of it Swami asked the collector where his wife and newborn baby were. 'In the room' he replied, so Swami asked one of the boys to hurry and call her too. As the boy left Swami took one devotee for a private interview. In the meantime the wife hurried inside the room with her 9 month baby. Being called on such short notice she was hardly prepared. 

While Swami was still inside, the Mother to her horror realised that the baby had excreted in the Holy interview room. Absolutely tensed she didn't know what to do, neither did the Collector. The other boys also realised what had happened and were at a loss. They were anxious as to the general embarrassment of one and all when Swami would emerge. The Mother began weeping and was about to tear up her saree to clean up the mess, when the door opened and Swami stepped out. 

He looked around and asked 'what happened?' Nobody knew what to say. Swami understood and said 'wait' He went inside and came out with a piece of cloth. The youths came forward to take the cloth to do the cleaning. Swami refused and asked them to sit. The father came forward, but Swami said ‘This is not your job.’ So the mother came forward but Swami stopped her saying 'You are in your Mothers home. This is My job.' And with that Swami got on the floor and began cleaning.

Love All, Serve All


  1. Very nice! You set an example of selfless service for many of us. Thank you so much.


  2. Must read for all... :) and to be followed implicitly

  3. I am very impress at your writings I am so speechless I am going to gave your discourses in satsangh from now till baba birthday surely you are a great soul on earth om sai ram

  4. it is neera sanchez who wrote this

  5. This blog post is absolutely wonderful. Thanks for the writeup on true seva exemplified by Swami


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