Anil Kumar's Sunday Satsang at
September 15, 2002
The Sunday Talk Given by Anil Kumar
“Spirit of Service or Service to the Spirit?”
15th September 2002
OM… OM… OM…
With Pranams at the Lotus Feet of Bhagavan,
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
The Philosophy Of Service
The topic for this morning is this: “The Spirit of Service or
Service to the Spirit?” Which one is more important out of the
two? Should we have ‘the spirit of service’ or should we consider
‘service to the Spirit’? Out of the two, which one is more
important? Because we find service playing an important part in
the Sai Organisation and service being prescribed as a spiritual
path for all devotees, I thought that we should spend some time on
the philosophy of service.
I'm afraid that by doing more and more service, without knowing
the philosophy and the sprit of service, we tend to become
mechanical. When we become mechanical, the purpose is lost and the
service transforms into an act of utter boredom -- a big bore. So,
we should maintain the spirit of service. We should know the value
of service. We should know the philosophy behind service, without
which service is a routine. So when service becomes monotonous, it
So my friends, those of us who are in the field of service, those
of us who believe in service, should know the basic philosophy of
service. Very often we hear people telling everyone that we should
have the sprit of service. Everybody says that it is necessary to
have the spirit of service. Speakers gather on platforms and
politicians refer to this, even though they don’t serve. They want
us to serve, but they themselves don’t serve.
So what is it that we should know? Is it enough if we have '“the
spirit of service”? What do I mean by “the spirit of service”? By
knowing what service is, we’ll have answered this question. And if
we know what service is, we’ll also understand the meaning of
“service to the Spirit”.
I don’t know how many people of service are aware of these
factors. We just blindly follow. If I am told, “Ask everybody to
be seated in a line” I will do it.
“Ask everybody to leave the hall.” I’ll certainly request it.
Or somebody will say, “Send him out! Lead him out! ” Why not?
Unfortunately, we have become mechanical. Most unfortunately, we
have become robots, not following the spirit or the philosophy
behind it. That’s the reason why we don’t enjoy service. It is not
enough if we serve - we should enjoy as we serve. We should be
happy as we serve.
Do we enjoy bliss at the end of service? The little happiness that
we have gained is gone. We can see this by looking at the faces.
The face is the index of the mind. So it is very clear that we are
doing service, but we don’t enjoy what we do. We’re not happy with
what we are doing; we want somebody else’s job -- a job other than
what was allotted to us. Why? Because we think that the service of
others is more promising, has more profit, than what we do. We
want Swami to take notice of us. So the very motive and the very
purpose are meaningless. Therefore, we should understand what
service is – we should know “the sprit of service”.
My friends, since I am also in a field of service, do not consider
that I'm standing on a high pedestal, that I'm trying to sermonise
or that I'm trying to preach. That I will not do for this
lifetime. You can take it from me! I'm also a humble servant to
the Lord. Here we are just discussing among ourselves. I am just
sharing views with you from Sai literature. It is not that anyone
is superior -- that one is a teacher and that the other one is
only a passive listener. We are not trying to pontificate things
to anybody. This satsang, this sort of meeting together of pious
people, helps us to introspect or evaluate or assess ourselves on
our own, not by others. So let us know what is service.
Service Is an Opportunity
Before we develop the “spirit of service”, let us know what
service is. Number one, service is an opportunity. Let us be very
clear. Because my service elsewhere has helped me to maintain my
family, it is not an opportunity. Somebody may say, “I have put in
about 30 years of service as a professor.” I see. Why? In order to
maintain your family, to eke out your living, for your livelihood
-- so that service, which has me draw a salary, is not an
opportunity, but it is necessity. Service as a job or profession
is a necessity; but true service is an opportunity.
This opportunity is not given to everybody. This opportunity does
not come every day. This opportunity drops like heavenly manna, as
the Holy Bible says. All may serve at an unexpected hour. When you
are quite unprepared, service drops down as an opportunity.
Service Is Love in Action
Secondly, what is service? Service is love in action. It is not
enough if a father says, “My dear son, I love you.” The son will
immediately say, “Daddy, I want a new pair of pants and a new
shirt for Christmas.”
“No, my dear son, I love you, but I won’t give you new clothes.”
Will the son say, “Thank you, Daddy”? (Laughter) So, this kind of
verbal love is not in any way a service.
A husband says to his wife, “Honey, very good. I love you.” The
wife would immediately say, “I’ve been waiting for this
opportunity. Why don’t we move -- shift, to a new house?
(Laughter) The present house where we are staying is not big
enough. Or, at least purchase a washing machine for me as an
expression of your love. Or a pressure cooker, I’d like that.”
“No dear, I love you. Do not put forth any demand.”
Will the wife say, “Thank you”? (Laughter)
So, love should have an expression. It is not enough if you say,
“I love you.” No, no, no! This love is just a political love. It
is only political. It is only social. It is only verbal. It is an
act of etiquette. It is courtesy. It is an expression of decency.
It is one of good manners, that’s all. But it is a zero in the
end. If love has not expressed itself, it is just hypocrisy. So my
friends, love in action is service. Unless we serve, we cannot say
that we love. That is the second point.
True Service Is Above Self
The third point: True service is above self (ego).
“I want to become the Convenor of the Sai Centre, or President of
the Sai Centre, or at least Convenor of the Seva Dal, or at least
in charge of taking down the list of seniority. (Laughter) Or
else, at least in charge of the lines or in charge of
carpet-rolling or carpet-spreading,” (Laughter) This sort of
aiming, this sort of motivation, this sort of scheming, this sort
of planning, this sort of goal, is all an expression of total
Ignorance - I didn’t say ‘innocence’! Innocence is higher,
greater, and spiritual. Ignorance is horrible and terrible.
(Laughter) One should be innocent, but no one should be ignorant.
An ignorant person must be condemned, but an innocent man should
be hallowed. A man of innocence is spiritual, Divine, and
childlike, while an ignorant man is always in darkness - total
darkness - and utter foolishness. Such a person is to be shunned.
Therefore, service is above self (ego). “I don’t want anything. I
don’t want a reservation. I don’t want name or fame. I don’t want
anything to be specially conferred upon me, no.” Silent, calm,
serene, not honoured, unwept, unsung - that service which is done
silently like a cool breeze, that service which spreads like the
fragrance of a flower, without announcement, without propaganda,
without broadcast or telecast, is true service. So, what is
service? True service is one that is above self (ego).
Service Is Spontaneous, Not Scheduled
The next (fourth) point is: service is spontaneous. It is not
scheduled. It is not studied. I find a person falling on the
ground because of weakness and I say, “No, I'm doing service from
2 to 4 in the evening. Even if you fall or collapse, sorry!
(Laughter) My duty time is only then.” So, it is not that you have
a time-bound framework, no. There should be a spontaneous,
immediate response. An immediate reaction to a situation is
service. It is not anything bound by time.
“Please, why don’t you ask them to remain silent?”
“No sir, my duty is from seven in the morning until ten, thank
you. Ask somebody else.” (Laughter) That is nonsense.
So, service that is spontaneous, that is instantaneous, that is
natural - something like a fountain - is true service. That is the
real spirit of service. Service is silent.
Service is silent, without propaganda. When I begin to say, “You
know how we serve?” you are doing a disservice by announcing it
like that. “You know how long I served in Seva dal?” Here you are
doing a disservice. So, if you have the true spirit of service,
you are not to announce, you are not to publicize, and you are not
to take credit.
Further we may say, “Did you know how I served in those days?”
That’s also not service. You are not going to be paid extra
because of your service back then, nor will the present income be
increased! So, there should be no comparison or competition in
service, as service is always silent.
Baba Is a Silent Worker
You must have heard the program presented during the afternoon
session on September 10th, the day of Vinayaka Chavithi, by the
boys from the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning – those
who are presently serving on the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust.
Most of you probably attended that day. A statement of Bhagavan’s
was made by one of the participants. It is a golden statement -- a
statement that must be written in golden letters. What was it?
“Baba, is a Silent Worker.”
Bhagavan will not announce, “I did so many things.” He’ll never
make that kind of statement. On the other hand, in front of Him
we’ll say, “Swami, we did this; we did that.” He’ll say, “Keep
quiet!” (Laughter) You can flatter a man, you can praise a man in
power, you can exaggerate the worldly figures, you can
underestimate the work of your enemy, or respect the work of your
friend; but God does not want publicity. God does not expect your
recognition. God is not waiting for your thanks or an expression
of gratitude, no!
“Bhagavan, what’s wrong if I say, ‘Thank you’? Can’t I say, ‘Thank
you’? What’s wrong in that? Why not? Why not? After all, when I
drop my kerchief, if anyone picks it up and gives it back I say,
‘Thank you’. Can't I say, ‘Thank You, Bhagavan’? Why not?”
What does Baba say? “When the father gets a new outfit for his
son, the son will never say, ‘Oh Father, how great you are! What a
wonderful father you are - jean pants, excellent! The T-shirt top
- Oh Father, you are great!’ He doesn’t go on praising the father.
If Mother makes nice cookies at home, or any such preparations
like pies or pizza, the son will not say, ‘Mother, you are great,’
as if she has become great overnight!”(Laughter)
“So, mother does not expect any praises nor does father expect any
flattery. I am more than your father and mother. I'm more than
your physical parents. In that situation, why do you praise Me? I
don’t like it.” That’s what Bhagavan says because true work, true
service, is done in silence. It is silent work. That is the true
spirit of service.
Service Is Not About Magnitude of Work
Service is not about magnitude of work or intensity of work. It is
the spirit that matters. It is bhava, the feeling that matters.
The spirit of service is more important than the magnitude of
service. We may do any number of things. But after all, without
true feeling, it may not mean anything. What you feel is more
One boy in Kodaikanal purchased a very small gift for Bhagavan. It
was made of sandalwood - a very small gift. Swami left everything
else and started looking at it. There was nothing great about it
-- it was not the Taj Mahal, or Kutub Minor. There was nothing
special about it. But He started staring at that small piece of
art made up of sandalwood -- how nice!
Naturally, we can't bear when Swami is appreciating a person and
his gift. (Laughter). “Swami, what is special there? Why do You
look at it?”
Then Bhagavan immediately said to us, “It is the spirit behind it.
When all of you were so busy purchasing gifts for your near and
dear, ready to present them when you return home, you wanted to
give these gifts to your people. You starting acquiring all these
gifts. But here is a boy who had not forgotten Bhagavan, and thus
purchased this small gift. That is enough for Me. I don’t except
any gifts. I don’t want or even need it.”
“Patram, Pushpam, Phalam, Toyam” means: a small flower, a spoon of
water, a small fruit given with a good heart, with a pure heart,
in a good spirit, yes, that is service. It is not the magnitude of
service that counts.
True Service Is Continuous, Not Seasonal
The true spirit of service requires us to serve continuously. True
service is continuous; it is not seasonal. Somebody may say, “I
will serve in the month of February and March.” The rest of the
year he receives service. (Laughter) Are you served? Are you
receiving service? No! Service is a continuous process. It is not
a seasonal activity, like the mango season, like wheat season or
like apple season. It’s not a seasonal crop. It is one of
continuous activity from womb to tomb, from birth to death, till
the last breath.
Seek every opportunity to serve because opportunity that comes now
may not be there later. It may not come for another lifetime. Let
us be enthusiastic to serve. So, it is not seasonal; service is
Service Is Not Merely Skill or Professionalism
In true service, it is not merely skill or professionalism that
matters, but the heart that counts. Your skill, your
professionalism, your expertise belong to your head; but the
feeling, the sentiment, the emotion are in your heart. So, it is
the heart that matters because a pure heart is the temple of God.
Therefore, in service it is the feeling of the heart that should
prompt everybody to serve; it should not only be the skill,
expertise and professionalism that prompts everyone to serve. It
is from the heart, not from the head, that one should serve.
The spirit of service is transcendence. It is transcendental.
Service is not restricted to any caste or community, creed or
gender, nationality, time or space. Spiritual service transcends
all the limitations. It is beyond all these kinds of relations,
If service is only limited to your community, if it is restricted
to a class or a creed, then it becomes very narrow. That is very
selfish; that is self-centeredness; that is localized; that is
regionalized; that is purposeful; that is goal-oriented. But the
true spirit of service is beyond age, class, caste, community,
race or nationality. We should not be motivated by any of these
Serve, But Never Be a Servant
Next, serve and serve, but never be a servant. You may ask, “What
is this?” (For your information, I am not a faculty member from
the English Department. I'm a student of Bioscience.) So, serve
and serve, but never be a servant.
Being a man of service is different from being a servant. Yes.
Some people say, “I'm a servant of the Lord. I'm a servant of the
Organization.” Pardon him for his ignorance. A servant is always
salary-oriented. If you give him more, he’ll certainly serve more.
So, there is the quantum of service to consider.
“I want you to do this work.”
“Ten rupees more.”
“I want you to do this work also.”
“Sir, some more money.”
So, a servant expects money; he expects something in return --
always. No servant does work free-of-cost, free-of-charge, totally
free -- particularly in pilgrim centres like this, where
expectations are even higher because they calculate in terms of
dollars. So, they expect something for their help.
A servant expects, but a man of service has no expectations. He’s
not salary-oriented. He’s not money-oriented -- nothing, no
A Servant is Time Bound
Number two: a servant is time-bound - eight hours or six hours.
How many hours can I serve at home? How many hours can I serve in
the office? Time, that’s all. Beyond that, it’s ‘overtime’,
meaning extra payment. So a servant is time-bound. A servant has
limited capacities. A servant has a designated job.
“Carry the luggage from here to there.”
“Carry the water from there to over here.”
“Give me a lift to that place and drop me off there.”
So a servant has a specific area of service – a sub-designed
service or sub-allocated service.
But a man of service is ready to do anything at any time. He
should be an expert of experts. If you’re an expert, you can be a
servant. But if you are an expert of experts, you can be a man of
service. Among the Seva Dal, you’ll find engineers, doctors,
professors, directors, bank managers, and other top professionals.
Do you know that?
The Air Marshal’s Wife
Sometime back, probably last year, Bhagavan gave an interview to
an Air Marshal, Chief of Air Services. While talking to the
family, suddenly Swami turned towards the wife of the Air Marshal
and said, “When did you come?”
“Bhagavan, I came last month.”
“Oh, I see.”
And He turned to her husband, the Air Marshal, and said, “When did
“Swami, I came this morning.”
“Why did your wife come last month, but you are only coming here
Immediately the wife said, “Swami, I came along with the Seva Dal
last month from Delhi.”
“Ready to work throughout the night, I worked in Sri Sathya Sai
Super Speciality Hospital.”
“What did you do there?”
Sweeping! This family maintains a number of servants at home in
Delhi. They have a number of helpers there. But here she started
sweeping the corridors for one full month -- cleaning all the
restrooms for one full month! Well, I'm not especially praising
her. There are lots of people like that. There are many, many
people like that.
A few years ago, a man was at the gate in Brindavan. Out of
curiosity, I asked him, “Sir, where do you come from?” He said,
“I'm from Kolar Company, Karnataka.” It’s a national profit
company. Then still I was interested to know, “What is your
position there?” “I'm the Director,” he said.
“Thank you, Sir!”
I literally ran away from there! (Laughter)
"Let Me Take You Around Sundaram"
About ten years ago, I went to Sundaram Temple in Chennai for the
first time. I had never visited Sundaram before that. Bhagavan
asked me, “Have you been to Sundaram earlier?”
“No Swami, this is the first time.”
“I see. Then, let Me show you around.”
He showed me every room personally. “This is that and this is
that.” I was really happy because God showing me was a lot
different from man showing me! (Laughter). It makes an ocean of
And then suddenly, in all the corners, I found Seva Dal people
posted, wearing scarves. Bhagavan spoke to one gentleman. “Come
here. What are you?” He said, “I'm a mechanical engineering
professor from Engineering Technology, Madras.” ET Professor.
Uh-ha! Swami immediately looked at me. “You know your position.”
So, don’t consider yourself more than anybody. Ego makes every one
of us overestimate, as if we have a special position -- certainly
not! The more and more we comprehend that things have been going
on all along, we certainly come to a state of understanding that
we are nobody -- that we are nothing.
And then, as we were proceeding further, Swami stopped and asked
the name of another person. He said his name. Then Bhagavan said,
“What are you?”
“Director, Ashok Leyland Company.”
Huh! Have I committed some sort of mistake? (Laughter) Bhagavan
Baba wants me to know how great His devotees are -- what kind of
jobs they have, what high positions they hold. I know what kind of
service they are doing here.
And then, at some other place there was a generator and a Seva Dal
there. Bhagavan went on asking, “What are you?”
“Swami, I'm an electrical engineering professor in Madras
Department, Guindy Engineering College.” Professor of mechanical
engineering, electrical engineer, Ashok Leyland, company directors
-- such people, Bhagavan!
They Accept It as an Opportunity
My friends, why am I telling this? There’s a reason behind it.
These people accept seva, service, as an opportunity. It is not a
menial work. It is not work that you can take as low and cheap or
mean, no! It is the worst of sins to consider service low and
mean. We’ll be committing the worst of the sins if we consider any
service low and mean. Then nothing is achieved. Service is a
golden opportunity. It is so precious because you are not paid for
it. You don’t expect anything. You yourself may hold a very high
post of office. But now you are doing work as an act of worship to
God Himself. So, it is transcendence. You should never be a
servant, but you should go on serving people.
We have in the faculty today a very big professor who worked under
a noble laureate in the field of economics. I saw him many times
here in Prashanti Nilayam, but I never dreamt that he would be a
professor here in our Institute this year. But I have seen him
many times -- very simple, very humble, smart, handsome, sharp,
bright. But then I came to know that he’s a professor, head of the
department of economics from Delhi University, with national and
international recognition! He’s serving there in Sai Kulwant Hall
as a Seva dal member -- just carrying benches, carrying mats, or a
cushion here and there. Such a big man of international
Giving What Is Needed
Why am I telling this? Many seva dal people are professionals.
They are experts and they are doing these small, small jobs
assigned to them as an act of worship, as an offering to God. It
is not that they could not do that work which they have been doing
life long, certainly not. Spiritual service is not giving what you
may already have or know; it is giving only what is needed at that
hour. That is important.
Bhagavan said at one time that a seva dal person, because of his
over-enthusiasm, went on distributing sweets to diabetic patients.
(Laughter) Offering sweets to a diabetic patient is not service.
It is more like transporting him to the other planet! (Laughter)
Inter-planetary airlines, that’s it! So don’t start distributing
fruits to diabetic patients -- that we are not supposed to do.
So, do what is needed. We cannot think of feeding the poor people
in the United States. They (in USA) cannot do Narayana seva and
feed the poor here. Similarly, we don’t need counselling centres
here, but they may be necessary elsewhere. So, do what is needed
at that particular place, depending upon the geographical
considerations, the climatic conditions, the social considerations
and other requirements. So, spiritual service requires us to do
what is needed, not do what skills we may already have, no!
The Second Aspect: Why Service?
So my friends, that is the first part of this morning’s lecture -
“What is service?” I have mentioned eleven points. There will be
even more as you think about it, based on your own experience. I
tried to put it within the framework of our time constraint. So
this gives us an idea of the meaning of “the spirit of service”.
Now we move onto the second aspect: “Why service?” This aspect
will tell us that it is not only “the spirit of service” that is
important. There is something more than that, which has even
greater importance. What is it? It is “service to the Spirit”. It
is not “the spirit of service”. It is the next, higher step. It is
the philosophy of service, yes! When you serve religiously, it is
“service to the Spirit”. If you serve spiritually, it is service
to the Spirit. That is the next state or step.
Service Is Awareness
Why service? We should know service is awareness. Awareness of
what? It is awareness of God everywhere, awareness of God in
everyone, awareness of God who is omniscient, omnipresent, and
omnipotent. So this spiritual understanding, this total
understanding of the Divinity, is awareness. This awareness will
help us to know that our service is service to the Spirit within,
not to anybody.
Secondly, service is sadhana, a spiritual path. All religions lay
emphasis on this. In fact, in the nine paths of devotion, Pada
sevanam, service to the Lotus Feet, is the fourth step -- a higher
step -- not merely listening, not merely chanting. It is higher
than that. What is service – the fourth step in the nine-paths of
devotion? There are nine paths -- Nava Vidhi Bhakthi Marga. In the
nine paths, the fourth step is service, which is higher than the
previous paths. That is sadhana.
You need a road to travel down. You need a path to proceed upon.
You need a vehicle to reach the goal. You need a transport to
reach your destination. Service is the automobile, the vehicle --
the latest Mercedes Benz! So, service is communication. Service is
the highway, the national highway, to reach God. It is a sadhana.
You know of Mother Teresa, yes? What kind of service she did till
her last breath! Speaking of service, you know of Swami
Vivekananda, you know of Mahavira, while Bhagavan is Service
Incarnate! Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba is Service Personified.
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba is Service in a human form. Bhagavan
Sri Sathya Sai Baba is Service, walking on two Feet. Therefore,
service is sadhana, a spiritual path and practice, a spiritual
endeavour and commitment.
"Why Do You Want Us To Serve?"
Third point: “Bhagavan, why do You want us to serve? I don’t want
to serve. I'm capable of making others serve. (Laughter) I can
organise others on how to serve, yes. But why should I serve? Why
do You want me to serve?”
Bhagavan said, “It is the only way to be egoless. It is the only
way to consider the great quality of humility -- to be humble, to
want to serve. To be egoless, one should enlist in the path of
service.” While you serve, you cannot be egoistic. Unless you are
free from ego, you cannot serve to the best of your ability.
I’ll give you a very simple example: Some time back, there was a
tin of laddus. (I think most of you know what laddus are. Bhagavan
often distributes laddus on festival days -- most of you know
that. It is shaped like a tennis ball, a small brown sweet -- a
very important sweet.)
Swami wanted the tin of laddus to be distributed to the boys. He
called me and said, “Bring that tin of laddus here.” Then Swami
went inside. Immediately I called one or two boys and said, “Bring
the tin here.” (Laughter) The boys brought it and kept it there.
Our Bhagavan noticed this. (Laughter) Yes! The cat was out of the
Immediately He came and said, “I can ask those boys to bring it
Myself. (Laughter) You don’t have to delegate powers to anybody. I
wanted to give you this chance of service and you lost it. I gave
you this chance of service and you missed it. And you may not get
Therefore, my friends, why did I ask the boys to bring it? I was
feeling, ‘Being the Principal of the College (at that time), can I
carry tins like that? No!’ Not immediately. The ego did not permit
me to bring that tin of laddus. After all, there were degree boys
to do it! ‘A post-graduate with 33 decades of service carrying the
tin? No!’ (Laughter) No, I couldn’t do it. It means my ego did not
allow me to do it.
But, the one who does it is egoless. So long as there is ego, we
can never be spiritual. So long as there is ego, we can never be
religious. So long as there is ego, realization of God is out of
the question -- for a hundred lives to come or even more! We
should say, “Oh ego, let me go!” The ego is the biggest obstacle
-- it is an ‘iron curtain’ between God and me. So, service helps
us to be egoless, to remove that iron curtain, so that we can
experience the Divine manifestation. This is the way, the only
way, to be egoless.
Furthermore, let us understand that we are not serving anyone.
Rather, you are serving yourself. Sometime back, a few members
were given an interview. Swami asked them -- they were youngsters,
youth, “What are you doing?” They started to say, “Swami, we’re
helping the aged people. We’re helping the handicapped. We’re
helping the primary school children.” Swami said, “Stop that
nonsense, stop! You are not helping anybody. You are helping
yourselves.” Every act of service is an act to oneself, not to
"Do You Think You Are Serving Me?"
Some time ago, Baba gave an example, an illustration. One morning,
it seems a gentleman decided to feed an old Brahmin as an act of
service. I see - if he fed a non-Brahmin, he’d be committing some
sin. So he wanted only to feed a Brahmin. Starting in the morning,
he waited for a Brahmin to come by. Ultimately, around 1:30 in the
afternoon, he did find an old Brahmin about 80 - 85 years old.
Immediately he said, “Sir, I've been waiting for you. Please come
home with me. I’ll serve you food. I'm waiting.”
That old gentleman came and sat in front of the Brahmin. The food
was served, and the Brahmin started eating. The gentleman was
‘Is he a Brahmin? I don’t think so. (Laughter) He should wash his
feet first. He should say his prayers next, and he should sprinkle
some water around that plantain leaf, and then start eating. How
can he be a Brahmin if he starts eating straight away?!’
Then he said to the Brahmin, “This food is not for you! Please
leave.” (Laughter) Then, as usual that afternoon, the gentleman
ate and slept. While napping, he had a dream. In the dream,
Bhagavan appeared and said, “Hey fellow, are you a buffalo?
(Laughter) I fed this old Brahmin for 85 years! He was eating
twice a day comfortably. Yet you could not feed him even once, and
you think you are serving Me? Do you think that food will reach
Me? Stupid -- you are stupid.” Then straightaway the gentleman got
up from his nap, and went in search of the old man, but he never
It only means that Bhagavan appeared in the form of that Brahmin
to teach the gentleman this lesson that he is not helping anybody
-- no, no, no, no! This time, this moment, the opportunity is
given to each one to help oneself by helping others. So, this is
the realization of “service to the Spirit”.
Service Is the Only Way of Realisation
And the next fourth point: Service is the only way to realisation.
The culmination of service, the climax of service, is realisation.
What is there to realise? With true service, you realise that God
is in everyone -- it is a passage from ‘I’ to ‘we’. God is a
cosmic form. God is not a person; God is not an object -- God is
cosmic. God is universal, embodying the whole organic world.
You’ll have that cosmic experience or the realisation once you
proceed along the path of service.
Bhagavan gave one example. A long time ago, there lived a devotee
by the name of Eknath. That devotee was carrying a pot full of
Ganges water to Rameshwaram. It was a hot day, and as he was
carrying this pot full of Ganges water to Rameshwaram, Eknath saw
a donkey on the ground, struggling hard as it was very thirsty.
This immediately compelled Eknath to give some water to the
Everybody made fun of him saying, “Look here, sir! This sacred
Ganges water is to be carried to Rameshwaram. Why are you offering
it to this donkey? This water was meant to be offered to Lord
Siva, not to a donkey!” Eknath said, “That same Siva is here right
now in this donkey. This thirsty donkey is the very reflection,
the very embodiment, of Siva Himself. Therefore I offered this
water to the donkey.”
That is the pinnacle of success, glory, and realisation. God
serves man and man should serve his fellowmen. Man should serve
his fellowmen because God serves man. Baba said at one time, “You
see Me distributing clothes. You see Me distributing everything. I
serve and serve. I go on giving and giving. Why?”
Why should He do the distribution when all persons are assembled?
He could say, “At 12 o’clock, all needy people can assemble.” He
can then distribute the clothes and by 2 o’clock, the rest of us
can arrive. Why should He serve in front of us, while all the
people are watching? He goes on serving everybody like that. Why?
So that we may learn from His best, Divine example. We should
serve everybody just as He does.
Yesterday He mentioned an instance of a person from Bombay. This
person adopted two sons, two boys, because both of his other sons
were settled here in Prashanti Nilayam, doing service to Bhagavan.
The husband and wife were free. So what did they do? They adopted
two more boys. Why?
“We follow the example of Bhagavan.”
Adoption -- adopting poor children, serving the poor and needy,
and helping everybody -- we should emulate His example. We have
the best example right in front of us! Hence, God serves man so
that man may learn to serve his fellowmen.
Help Ever, Hurt Never
Next (fifth) point: “Help ever, hurt never.” We should always
help; we should never hurt anybody. Help does not always mean
material things, no. A good word, an encouraging word, a suitable
word, some solace or comfort – yes, that is enough help. Help does
not necessarily mean financial or material -- no, no, no, no!
Don’t worry! Don’t worry! Why are you frustrated? No, don’t get
disappointed that Swami has not looked at you -- no, no! I was
like you for many, many long years. I waited and waited, and later
Bhagavan made up for it with compound interest. A look lost now is
a guarantee for many looks later. So, let us not be worried about
the present moment.
Suddenly Swami asked one boy, “How is your grandfather?” Then He
asked another boy, “How is your mother?” Well, everyone was
surprised. He said, “Your grandfather underwent an operation. He
is improving, don’t worry.” He looked at another boy, “Your mother
suffered from cancer. She feels she’s totally cured, no! Tomorrow
I will give prasad. Send to her.”
And then Swami turned around and said to me, “Look here, many of
the boys think that I don’t talk to them or that I don’t know
them. Many feel that I have neglected them. Many are frustrated.
Remember, I know everyone of you as well as your family -- your
brothers, your sisters, your parents -- every detail I know.” Then
This is Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. Outwardly, externally, we
think that we are neglected, that He has not spoken to us, that He
has never looked at us. No, no, no! He is the cosmic Divine, where
our future, present and past, all the three films are downloaded
there on the Divine ‘computer’. Therefore we have to be very
careful -- help ever and be ever ready.
Three Ways of Service
And then, Bhagavan said there are three ways of service. One: Some
people want to serve rich people. But the rich don’t need your
service as they can employ someone to help. Still, if you serve
rich people, it is called Lakshmi Narayana seva. Lakshmi
Then, you may serve equals: He’s my colleague and therefore my
equal. I serve him because I may need his services tomorrow –
foreign exchange! (Laughter) So, it is an exchange service.
Service to equals is Aswathnarayana seva. Service to the rich is
Lakshmi Narayana seva. But the real service, which is to the poor,
Narayana is common to all people. Don’t think that there is one
Narayana or God in these poor people; and that He is different for
rich people -- no, no, no! God is there in all equally. He is
equally there in rich people and in poor people, But service is
very much required, is very much needed, for the poor people. Also
service is an opportunity to express our gratitude and
thankfulness to God. “Oh God, thank you very much for this
opportunity.” We express our gratitude like this.
Hands That Serve Are Holier
Than Lips That Pray
Then also Bhagavan says, “Hands that serve are holier than lips
that pray.” Lips that pray are certainly lower when compared to
the hands that serve. Hands that serve are higher -- that’s what
Swami wants us to know.
What is the highest service, the best service? Paropakaram.
Paropakaram, in the usual connotation or conventional sense, means
‘help to others’. But Bhagavan does not use that interpretation.
Param means ‘God’, upa is ‘near’ and kara means ‘joining’. Service
that will help anybody go towards God, help anybody to think of
God, help anybody move near God, help anybody chant His Name or
move along the path of Divinity -- that is the highest service.
Para + upa + karma = Paropakaram, which means ‘to take one near
God’. Either by way of thinking or chanting or singing -- whatever
it may be -- that’s the highest service and that is the merit or
punyam or Paropakaram punyam.
What is paapam? It is sin: Papaya Parapeedanam. In the usual
context, this means hurting anybody -- hurting or harming others.
But Bhagavan changes the meaning. Param is ‘God’ and Peedana is
‘diversity’ or ‘God as many’. But God is One. So, multiplicity or
plurality has no place in spirituality. God is unity, not
multiplicity or diversity. So, to think of God as many is the sin.
So now the “Why” of service has shown that service, true service,
is to the Sprit, not for anything else.
Service is Sai, Sai Is Service
Finally, let us consider the “How” of service? “Service is Sai.
Sai is service.” Let us learn from Him. Let us emulate His
example. The second point is that once you start serving others,
manishi or man becomes maharshi, the saint.
And thirdly, what are the requirements of how to serve? First,
serve silently, humbly, and lovingly -- that is the first
requirement on how to serve. Do not interfere. Suppose you are
doing some work. If someone says, “No, sit down. Let them do their
job”, it’s interference. Service is not interference, no! That is
Furthermore, we have to cultivate the soul, understand the soul,
and experience the soul -- that is a fundamental prerequisite in
the field of service.
And then we must be indifferent to censure or praise. When people
go on praising you, well, you tend to get egoistic. When there is
censure, you get depressed. Don’t be affected by censure or blame;
don’t be carried away by praise because that gives scope to the
ego to raise its ugly head, which it could do at any moment.
The three P’s are required -- purity, patience, and perseverance.
Purity, patience and perseverance are required for any man of
service. If he’s pure, he’ll be patient enough. If he’s pure and
patient, he’ll have the perseverance -- that great quality of
determination -- to pursue his goals.
And then, S-A-I: Sai. ‘S’ stands for service, karma yoga or the
path of action. ‘A’ is for adoration, bhakthi or the path of
devotion. ‘I’ stands for illumination, the path of jnana or the
path of wisdom. So, service, which is karma yoga or action, should
take you to adoration and devotion, bhakthi yoga, and it gives you
or confers on you wisdom or illumination, jnana. So, one moves
from karma to bhakthi to jnana, like going from Bombay to
Frankfort to London or New York. Am I clear? This is it -- a way
Sai: Spiritual, Association and Individual Change
Then, next comes another S-A-I. ‘S’ is spiritual change. ‘A’ is
association change. ‘I’ is individual change. ‘S’, spiritual
change -- what is spiritual change? We think God is there in a
temple. We think that it is enough if we worship Him every Sunday
or Thursday or Saturday. Spiritual change means acquiring the
awareness that God is present in everyone, from microcosm to
Sarvada, Sarva Kaaleshu,
Sarvatra Hari Chintanam.
Sarvada means ‘all things all the time’. Sarva kaleshu means
‘everywhere’. Sarvatra means ‘everywhere, everybody’. Hari
chintanam means ‘think of Him’. That is the spiritual change that
is very much needed today.
‘A’, association change: We associate with bad people. We
associate with sub- human people. We associate with inhumane
people. No! Let us associate with good and noble people – let us
keep good company. There has to be a change in our association.
So, ‘A’ stands for association change. Then ‘I’, individual
change: I think that I'm the body. I think that I'm the mind --
no! I'm the Spirit. I need to know that I'm a spark of the Divine.
So, there needs to be change -- a spiritual change, a change in
our associations and individual change. Individual change is
vyashti. Association change is samashti and spiritual change is
Parameshti. Vyashti, samashti, and Parameshti These are the three
steps of change. There are the three changes in this
transformation process. That is real service to the Spirit.
Nature Is the Best Teacher,
Life Is the Best Preacher
Finally, nature is the best teacher. We find the rivers flowing
incessantly, quenching our thirst. We find the trees bearing fruit
for our sake. We find the cows yield milk for us. The cow’s milk,
the fruit from the trees, the breeze, the sunlight, and the
moonlight always serve us selflessly, without a word of
recognition or appreciation. So Bhagavan says, “Nature is the best
“Life is the best preacher.” Our life is the best preacher, which
means that, when life passes through certain stages -- stages of
elation or jubilation or frustration or depression, each stage
teaches us how to be equal-minded, how to be an example, how not
to be carried away by the winds -- the whims and vagaries of the
Life is the best preacher, for nothing is permanent in this world.
No one ever lives forever. Life is just a passing cloud. But in
this moment, though it may be temporary, this moment is one of
eternity. This moment is a moment of eternity -- life is in the
present where the past is dead and gone. In the present, the past
is dead and the future is only a hope. The future is not certain;
it is a hope; it is a promise; it is a dream and it may not come
at all. The future may not come at all, while the past is
finished. The past is history, while the future is a mystery. But
only the present moment is a reality. Let us live in the present
because this moment is the one eternal and immortal.
May Bhagavan help us every moment of our life. From this moment,
may we start to consider that service is not for others, but it is
a service to the Sprit within.
May Bhagavan bless you.
Thank you very much!
Om Asato Maa Sad Gamaya
Tamaso Maa Jyotir Gamaya
Mrtyormaa Amrtam Gamaya
Om Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu
Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu
Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu
Om Shanti Shanti Shanti
Jai Bolo Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba Ji Ki Jai!
Jai Bolo Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba Ji Ki Jai!
Jai Bolo Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba Ji Ki Jai!