Swamishri's Social Services
Question: Swamishri, you have set an ideal through years of service to society. Even today, at 82 years you are still endeavoring immensely. For years we have seen that you have no Sundays or any holidays. You have been serving tirelessly and without getting bored at all. There are many people and many organisations that perform and desire to do social services. With what feelings should we all try to perform service regularly and ideally?
Swamishri: Service to society, country, family and God are very necessary for our lives. Such service is very rare to get and difficult to perform. If one has pure feelings and the motive to do good for all, then your service will earn you the blessings of country, family and God. To perform social service means to serve selflessly, which the 500 paramhansas of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and others did. Gandhiji, too, performed selfless service. He had no expectations whatsoever. Service done with the motive for honor, money or selfishness does not allow for progress in a country, peace in society and home, and permit one to receive the blessings of God. So how can one attain salvation!
We think of doing service, but selfishness creates obstacles and conflict. We should then remember those who have rendered selfless services. We should remember the 500 paramhansas, Shastriji Maharaj, Yogiji Maharaj and other great sadhus, devotees and divine incarnations. They had sacrificed their lives for society.
How can such selfless service be performed? When one attains the vision to see God in everyone. Doing service with the feeling that God resides in everyone and I am serving Him makes one's service pure, pious and redemptory.
Many say that service to society is service to God. That is true, but when one offers service to God along with service to society, one realises what God prescribes for doing that service. Such 'divine' service can bring peace in society. And one reads of those who have done such services in the Ramayan, Mahabharat and Shrimad Bhagvat. Bhagwan Swaminarayan had performed such services. When one attains the vision to see God in everyone, then one is able to offer selfless service. Then God is pleased with such service. One should nourish the feeling to please God while doing service, and not desire for anything else. The desires for money, worldly gain, honor and glory in one's service to society brings one unhappiness. The feeling of pleasing God and the vision to see God in everyone brings joy to oneself and to innumerable people. This also brings progress to our society and nation, and inspires all to walk on the path of God. There are many devotees who have lived in this manner. Ravishankar Maharaj performed selfless service for society. He had no infatuation for power or position. He served all people, even the poorest of the poor, without a desire for anything in return. We can have the darshan of God in such social workers. Today, there are people who say they serve society and the country - that is good, but if it is done selflessly then it will give them happiness.
What will the country do for me? What will society do for me? What will my family do for me? What will God do for me? With such feelings and expectations one can never serve society. Instead, one should feel what can I do for society, family and God? God has given me such a wonderful birth, this human body, therefore I must think about what can I do for God. God has given us air, sunlight and oxygen free of charge. One has to pay for it in hospitals. He has blessed us with hands and feet so that we can do all our work. He has given us intelligence so that we can do research and progress. So, one must feel that one should do only that which pleases God. One must resolve to do things according to His teachings. Doing service for one's personal gain or out of selfishness does not benefit anyone. It is good if anyone does social service, but the motive for doing it is very important. One should introspect as to the type of feelings with which one serves others.
The 500 paramhansas of Shriji Maharaj were from a happy and well-to-do background, yet they renounced everything at the word of Shriji Maharaj. They were selfless. They tolerated beatings and persecutions, went through many trials and pains and some even died while doing service. Still, they disregarded all this because it was service to God. By seeing God in every person one has performed service to God.
When one performs social service and service to God, one therefore does not become proud. However, by doing just social service, one becomes arrogant and feels that one has done this much for so many people.
Once, a man became sick because of eating ghee. So the ayurvedic doctor gave him a medicine and told him, "Mix this medicine with one spoonful of ghee and take it." The man said, "I got ill by having ghee." The doctor said, "That's true, but the means to curing it is by having my medicine with ghee." The ghee that caused his illness cured him. Similarly, through social service one has become ill with arrogance that 'I have done this service.' So in that service one must add the medicine of God's service, medicine of satsang, spirituality and observance of God's moral laws. These are all pure feelings.
Doing whatever that pleases God is service. And doing service by seeing God in everyone is supreme.
God is the all-doer, and whatever He does is for the good of all. So if one does social service with such faith in God, that He is the doer, then one will not become proud. One will be able to serve willingly and lovingly, without any distinctions for anyone, be he poor, rich, tribal, homeless or a millionaire. God is pleased on one who serves with such feelings and this type of service redeems everyone.