(As) The elephant offers his head to the goad and as the anvil offers itself to the hammer.
So, Offer your mind (false ego-sense) and body (to Satgur...); and do "Oobhee Sev".
By becoming a Gurmukh, this is how one eliminates his self-conceit,
and come to rule the whole universe. (sggs 647-48).

The fundamental tenets in all of the world religions are essentially the same. For example, they all seem to be Love or service-oriented: Seva (pronounced Sevaa). Apparently, they all were motivated by a Higher desire to serve Higher Being and mankind. Therefore, the scriptures remind us that the aim of human life is to serve and love; without which this rare human birth will be wasted uselessly.

  • ਵਿਚਿ ਦੁਨੀਆ ਸੇਵ ਕਮਾਈਐ ॥ ਤਾ ਦਰਗਹਿ ਬੈਸਣੁ ਪਾਈਐ ॥ ਕਹੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਬਾਹ ਲੁਡਾਈਐੈ ॥: Vichi duneeaa sev kamaaeeai.Taa dargahi baisan paaeeai: In the midst of this world, do selfless service (Sevaa), and you will attain the experience of Divine Realm. Then, says Nanak, you will become free from all worries (sggs 26).
  • ਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਸੇਵਾ ਕਦੇ ਨ ਕੀਨੀ ਬਿਰਥਾ ਜਨਮੁ ਗਵਾਇਆ ॥: Gur kee sevaa kudae na keenee birthhaa janam guvaaeiaa: Man never serves God; he wastes his life uselessly (sggs 1130).

But, the question is: what is Sevaa? Who to serve? Who is most fit to be served? Since Waheguru, the Divine Principle, is without form, how can one serve Him? How can one go about serving mankind? In this context, with the help of the Divine Guide of the Gurbani (SGGS), this Reflection will attempt to reflect on the followings:

  • Sevaa: What is it?
  • External Sevaa
  • "OobheeSevaa: Internal or Formless Sevaa

Sevaa: What Is It?

Simply put: Sevaa means that our thoughts, words, and our actions (Mann, Bachans, and Karma) are accompanied by the selfless love and compassion.

Spiritual longing of a spiritual seeker expresses through many manifestations such as singing God's glories, fixing his mind upon Him with deep Love and faith, Jap (repeating God's Name), rendering continuos service to others, etc. Hence the principles of a Divine Life are Sevaa and meditation (Simran) in Love and Truth. Therefore, Sevaa is an integral part of a Spiritual Path, where the seeker strives to serve with a smile without any thought of reward, recognition or personal gain of any sort.

  • ਆਪੁ ਗਵਾਇ ਸੇਵਾ ਕਰੇ ਤਾ ਕਿਛੁ ਪਾਏ ਮਾਨ ॥: Aap guvaae sevaa kurae thaa kishh paaeae maan: But if he eliminates his self-conceit and then performs service, he will be honored (sggs 474).

Why serve and love God and His creation? The Self can be seen or realized only when the unripe ego (Haume) is destroyed. Sincere and selfless work (Nishakaam Sevaa) performed in Love and Truth is said to be the most potent weapon to thin out this false ego. Accordingly, the scriptures and the Enlightened Beings urge seekers to seek out opportunities to Sevaa.

  • ਬਿਨੁ ਸੇਵਾ ਕਿਨੈ ਨ ਪਾਇਆ ਦੂਜੈ ਭਰਮਿ ਖੁਆਈ ॥: Bin sevaa kinai n paaeiaa dhoojai bharam khuaaee: Without serving God, no one finds Him; in duality and doubt, they are ruined (sggs 1011).

The three means by which one can serve are: mind (Mann), speech (Bachan) and actions (Karma). Without sincere Sevaa, the scriptures call Jeeva (an individual being) to be stone-heartedly selfish, greedy, bonded to Maya, attached to evil passions, mammon-worshipper, fool, an ignorant being who serves only duality, and so on.

  • ਬਿਨੁ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਸੇਵੇ ਘੋਰ ਅੰਧਾਰਾ ॥: Bin satgur sevae ghor andhaaraa: Without serving the True Guru, there is only pitch-black darkness of ignorance (sggs 1054).
  • ਏਨੈ ਚਿਤਿ ਕਠੋਰਿ ਸੇਵ ਗਵਾਈਐ ॥: Enai chit kuthor sev guvaaeeai: Being so stone-hearted, one looses his chance to serve God (sggs 146).

Thus, Sevaa does not mean mindlessly or superstitiously attending religious places, building temples, cooking or offering food in the temple, sweeping marble floors there, dusting shoes of attendees, offering flower garlands and fancy garments (Rumaalaas, etc.), mechanical reading of scriptures (ritual Paath Poojaa), attaining recognition to look good in the community, singing Kirtan or preaching for making money, etc. The true Sevaa is Dharma performed consciously. To put it otherwise: the real Sevaa is Goodness in thought, word and deed.

Whether we know it or not, all of us are always engaged in serving something! The mode of one's Sevaa, however, depends on the mode of one's Spiritual understanding. Thus, depending on our Spiritual level, our Sevaa takes many forms and shapes. All types of Sevaa can be lumped in two categories: External Sevaa and Internal Sevaa.

  • ਅਨਿਕ ਭਾਂਤਿ ਕਰਿ ਸੇਵਾ ਕਰੀਐ ॥ ਜੀਉ ਪ੍ਰਾਨ ਧਨੁ ਆਗੈ ਧਰੀਐ ॥: Anik bhaanti kari sevaa kareeai. Jeeyu praan dhannu aagai dhreeai: Sevaa is of many types, and performed different ways. Serve God dedicating your Soul, your breath of life and your wealth (sggs 391).
  • Man has three states. In the first state he does not focus on God, instead he adores and serves anyone and anything woman, man, wealth, children, stones, land. Next, when he acquires a certain knowledge and awareness, he does not serve other than God. Finally, when he progresses in this state, he falls silent: he says neither, "I do not serve God," nor, "I do serve God" - that is, he leaves both states (Sufi Rumi).

External Sevaa

Human life in the world is of two types. The first which the majority lead is materialistic or selfish wherein only the pursuit of worldly comforts and sense-pleasure is the sole motive. While the other is a God-centered life wherein all actions are oriented to realizing the real Self within. A person in God-centered life is said to be a true devotee and whatever he gets in life is accepted by him as the Divine Grace.

Based on these two types of human life, external Sevaa can be divided into two categories: (a) selfish external Sevaa, and (b) unselfish or Nishakaam external Sevaa. In simple terms, selfish Sevaa results from selfish lifestyle of noncommitment and unexamined egocentricities or ignorance. On the other hand, unselfish Sevaa results from Goodness.

Devoid of Love and Truth, selfish Sevaa is performed by those who follow the path of worldly desires and fear. To say it in other way, they want something of the sense-world in exchange for their Sevaa. The scriptures thunder that Love and Truth cannot grow out of such mundane bargaining.

  • ਮਨਮੁਖ ਸੇਵਾ ਜੋ ਕਰੇ ਦੂਜੈ ਭਾਇ ਚਿਤੁ ਲਾਇ ॥ ਪੁਤੁ ਕਲਤੁ ਕੁਟੰਬੁ ਹੈ ਮਾਇਆ ਮੋਹੁ ਵਧਾਇ ॥: Manmukh sevaa jo karae doojai bhaai chit laai. Putt kalat kattamb hai Maya mohu vadhaai: The Manmukh may perform service (ਸੇਵਾ), (but while doing so, he) keeps his consciousness attached to the love of duality (not One God). Through Maya, his attachment to children, spouse and relatives increases (sggs 1422).
  • ਪਲਚਿ ਪਲਚਿ ਸਗਲੀ ਮੁਈ ਝੂਠੈ ਧੰਧੈ ਮੋਹੁ ॥: Palachi palachi sagalee muee jhoothai dhundhhai mohu: Entangled and enmeshed in the love of false occupations, the whole world is perishing (sggs 133).

Why do we think there is so much religious, political and social corruption in the world? Because, in utter selfishness, the majority of us serve only our material desires and fear. We use our mind, body and wealth for selfish and unworthy purpose. In other words, our so called Sevaa to God or mankind is self-centered. AnySevaa done in selfishness, therefore, is said to be the act of small mindedness (ego personified individuality); which is an indication of one's bondage to ignorance, false ego or duality (Doojaa Bhaav).

  • ਦੂਜਾ ਸੇਵਨਿ ਨਾਨਕਾ ਸੇ ਪਚਿ ਪਚਿ ਮੁਏ ਅਜਾਣ ॥: doojaa sevan Naanakaa sae pachi pachi mueae ajaan: Those ignorant ones who serve duality, O Nanak, rot, waste away and die (sggs 315).
  • ਮਤਿ ਥੋੜੀ ਸੇਵ ਗਵਾਈਐ ॥: Mati thorhee sev gavaaeeai: Through small-mindedness, we forfeit the merits of service (sggs 468).
  • ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਸੇਵ ਨ ਕੀਤੀਆ ਸਬਦਿ ਨ ਲਗੋ ਭਾਉ ॥ ਹਉਮੈ ਰੋਗੁ ਕਮਾਵਣਾ ਅਤਿ ਦੀਰਘੁ ਬਹੁ ਸੁਆਉ ॥ : Satgur kee sev na keeteeyaa sabad na laggo bhaayu. Haumai rog kamaavanaa ati deeragh bahu suyaayu: One who does not serve the True Guru, and who does not love the Shabad, earns the very painful disease of egotism; he is so very selfish (sggs 850).

Scriptures tell us selfishness is the source of all evil and suffering in the world. To be selfish is to serve Maya, and to serve Maya is to pass life in self-conceit. Thus, selfishness is nothing but a perverted son of the spiritually blind ego-mind. Under the spell of this ignoble or demon-mind quality, one is concerned excessively or exclusively with himself, seeking or concentrating on one's own selfish ideas and agenda. It is the selfish, misguided man who does not give anything, but tries to misappropriate everything from the world for his own sense-gratification. In such inner darkness, man serves others to fulfill his material desires. For the sake of never-lasting pleasures, he thus becomes slave of worldly objects and creates hell for himself and for others to suffer and struggle.

 

Source - www.gurbani.org