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Love and Service

Bhagawan Baba’s principal message is love. He is the embodiment of selfless love and His life is a saga of selfless love for the humanity. Talking about the nature of Love, He says,

"Love lives by giving and forgiving; self lives by getting and forgetting. Love can never entertain the idea of revenge, for it sees all others as oneself. When the teeth hurt the tongue, do you seek vengeance against the wrongdoer? No, for they both belong to you and are integral parts of your body. So too, when someone insults you or inflicts pain, allow your wisdom to guide you.”

“Selfless love is the source of happiness, truth, peace, sacrifice, endurance and all the higher values of life. There is no security and safety without 'Prema', the absolute, unalloyed form of love. Love is the most fundamental moral value.”

Love is the common denominator

Delivering a discourse in Chennai, Tamil Nadu on the 21st of Jan 1985, Baba said,

“When your thoughts emanate from a mind purified by love, they will result in Right Action, which is Dharma, When Love becomes part of your experience, thought and action you get Shanthi (Peace). When we comprehend Love clearly, Ahimsa or non-violence will result automatically. So, Love is the unseen undercurrent binding all the four values. It can be summarised thus: Love in thoughts is Sathya (Truth); Love in feelings is Shanthi (Peace); Love in action is Dharma (Righteousness) and Love in understanding is Ahimsa (Non-Violence). Love is the common denominator for all these values. It is the form of God, for God is love. One who gives Love is a man and one who fails to nourish this love is a beast. Love, or absence of Love makes one an animal, man or God.

Ref: “Sathya Sai Speaks” – Vol. XVIII, Chapter-2

The Royal Way to God

Here are a few excerpts of Baba’s discourses where He has emphasized the principle and practice of love:

The Grace of God cannot be won, through the gymnastics of reason, the contortions of yoga or the denials of asceticism. Love alone can win it. Love that needs no requital, love that knows no bargaining, love that is paid gladly, as tribute to the All-loving, love that is unwavering, love alone can overcome obstacles, however many and mighty. There is no strength more effective than purity, no bliss more satisfying than love, no joy more restoring than Bhakthi (devotion to God), and no triumph more praiseworthy than surrender.

Never Give Up Love

“Love should not be rationed based on caste, creed, economic status or intellectual attainment of the recipient. It should flow fully and freely, regardless of consequence, for, it is one's nature to love, to seek out the dry dreary wastes that love can water and make fertile.”

“When love is directed towards things that cater to the senses or bodily happiness, it will dry up when they fail or disappoint. When profit is loved, loss will undermine it. Discontent will sap its springs, when you love with the motive of worldly contentment. Even when ten million disappointments continue to distress you, never give up love; fix it on the source of love, the spring of love, the supreme goal of love, namely God. Whatever the handicap, however you are tempted to loosen the grip, hold on to God.”

“Love saturates all activities with joy and peace. Love enables the least and the lowest. Love yourself for the God that it embodies; Love others for the sake of God enshrined in them, who speaks and acts through them.”

“Love knows no fear, no untruth, no anxiety, and no grief. I am Love; I shower love; I share love; I am pleased with love; I bless you that you cultivate love towards all beings. Love is God. God is Love.”

Prema: The Highest sadhana (Spiritual Practice)

“Cultivate Prema (Love) towards all. That will destroy envy, anger and hatred. Rama (God) and Kama (lust, desire) cannot co-exist in the same heart. Trust begets trust; Love begets Love. When I am talking to you with so much Prema, you cannot develop any Dwesha or hatred towards Me! Prema binds the whole world as one family. It is the greatest instrument of concord.”

“The farmer plants the seedling and watches over it with great care; he waters them as and when necessary, removes the weeds, destroys the pests, spreads manure and waits for the day when he can reap the harvest and fill his granary. So too, you must nourish Prema and pluck out the weeds of hatred and envy. If you wear red glasses, everything appears red; wear the glasses of Prema and all will appear loveable and good. The eye of Prema will see all as embodiments of God.”

“Love is God, God is Love. Where there is love, there, God is certainly evident. Love more and more people; love them more and more intensely; transform the love into service; transform the service into worship… that is the highest sadhana. There is no living being without that spark of love; even a mad man loves something or somebody intensely. You must recognise this love as but a reflection of the Premaswaroopa that is your reality, of the God who is residing in your heart. Without that spring of love that bubbles in your heart, you will not be prompted to love at all.

“My Instrument and My Merchandise”

Once, when Baba was asked about His 'methodology', He said, "I have no methodology or machinery or strategy in the accepted organizational sense. My methodology is a simple one, based on transformation through love, and the machinery is one of human co-operation and brotherhood. Love is My instrument and My merchandise."

"I can transform the earth into sky and the sky into earth. But that is not my greatest power; My true power is Love," declares Bhagawan Baba, “Only true Love can touch and transform the human heart."

"You may call me Premaswaroopa (Embodiment of Love)! Prema is the wealth I have and which I share among the miserable and afflicted. I have no other riches. The Grace of the Lord is always flowing like the electric current through the wire. Fix a bulb, and the current, according to the wattage of the bulb, will illumine your home. The bulb is the Sadhana (spiritual practise) you perform; the home is your heart.

Come to Me gladly; dive into the sea and discover its depth; there is no use dallying near the shore and swearing that the sea is shallow and has no pearls. Dive deep and you will secure your desire."

Service

"The Best way to Love God is to Love All and Serve All"

Baba always exhorts people to take to the path of selfless service, He says, “Hands that help are holier than the lips that pray”.

Serve for Purity

Here are a few extracts from Baba’s message on the importance of service:

“The trees yield fruits for the benefit of others. It is for others that rivers carry water. Cow generously gives its milk to humans. Man also, without considering his own personal interests, should use his body for the benefit of others. Neither by penance, nor by taking holy dips in sacred rivers, nor by the study of scriptures, nor by japa (chanting the lord’s name) can the ocean of worldly existence be crossed. It can be achieved only by rendering service to good people. After having written the eighteen Puranas (scriptures), Sage Vyasa condensed the essence of its teachings in a simple phrase, “Help Ever, Hurt Never.”

“The main aim of all the activities in which you are now engaged and which you will take up in the future is cleansing of the mind. Be it meditation, listening to a spiritual discourse, singing Bhajans (devotional songs), undertaking charitable activities or performing religious rituals, the objective is to cleanse the mind of egoism, greed, hatred, malice, lust, and envy, and fill it with love. That is the sign of a true devotee.”

Men are born to serve, not to dominate

On the occasion of Fifth World Conference of Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organizations on 20th October 1990, Baba said,

“Seva brings out all that is great in man. It broadens the heart and widens one's vision. It fills one with joy. It promotes unity. It proclaims the truth of the Spirit. It drives out all the evil qualities in a man. It must be regarded as a great spiritual discipline. You are born to serve, not to dominate. Everyone in the world is a servant and not a master. All relationships – between husband and wife, mother and child, the employer and employee are based on mutual service. The world is progressing because of such acts of service. If not for the principle of Seva, the world would come to a halt.”

Ref: “Sathya Sai Speaks” – Vol. XXIII, Chapter-31

Service - The Highest Spiritual Discipline

Baba always places selfless service at the highest level in the hierarchy of spiritual disciplines. During the Summer course in Indian Culture and Spirituality in 1979, He said,

“Selfless service is a more exalted means of attaining spiritual progress than other means such as meditation, bhajan and yoga. This is so because when we undertake meditation, Japa (repetition of the name of God), or yoga, we do so exclusively for our own benefit and not for the good of others. These are aimed at fulfilling one’s individual desires and securing happiness for oneself. However, what we should aspire for is the attainment of the good of others without any desire for personal gain”.

The spirit of service eradicates egoism

One should not feel proud about the position one occupies. The strength derived from wealth or position is unreliable. Morality and purity of mind alone can confer real strength. To develop these qualities, one has to take up selfless service. The spirit of service eradicates egoism and selfishness. In the process, not only is your life sublimated, but the nation also gains through the example of a dedicated servant of the public.”

Ref: Sathya Sai Speaks, Vol. XXII, Chapter-23.

Service to man is service to God

In an inspiring discourse on the 5th of December, 1964, Baba said,

“Service to man will help your divinity to blossom, for, it will gladden your heart and make you feel that life has been worthwhile. Service to man is service to God, for He is in every man and living being, in every stone and stump.”

Ref: Sathya Sai Speaks, Vol. IV, Chapter-43.

“If you do not serve your fellowmen who are your kith and kin who have similar feelings, impulses and instincts as you whom you see before your eyes alive and gladly accepting with a smile of gratitude, then how can you serve God who is so far above and beyond you, so different and distant, so powerful and mysterious? Train yourselves to serve God by serving men, in whose hearts God is installed.”

“Service to any being amounts to serving Me, for I am in all,” Bhagawan says. “The relief and joy that you give to the sick and the sorrowing reach Me, for I am in their hearts, and I am the One whom they call out to. God has no need of your service. Try to serve the godly; become the servants of the servants of the Lord. The service of man is the only means by which you can serve God.”

Sanctify every act

Baba has remarked that one must undertake every activity as an offering to God and thereby transform it into worship. Here a few excerpts from His discourses elaborating on this idea:

“Discharging one’s duties in a righteous and diligent manner is, in itself, a service. If a person works conscientiously every minute of the day, doing the job that he is hired to do, that is an act service to the society, for, whose money is all this? It belongs to the society. Therefore, dereliction of one’s duties amounts to cheating society, which is a grievous sin.”

Service and its spiritual benefits

Baba always says that the people who render Seva are benefited more than the recipients of service, in terms of spiritual progress. In a discourse on the 29th of March, 1967 in Mumbai, He said,

“Do not believe that you can by means of Seva reform or reshape the world. You may or may not, that does not matter. The real value of Seva, its most visible result, is that it reforms you, reshapes you. Do Seva as a sadhana (spiritual exercise); then you will be happy.”

“Little acts of service can confer on you great spiritual benefits,” Baba says, “Firstly, it will destroy your egoism and develop in you the quality of humility. Humility will then enable you to work in happy unison with others.”

“Service is worship; each act of service is a flower placed at the Feet of the Lord, and if the act is tainted with ego, it is as if the flower is infested with slimy insects or worms! Who would desecrate the Feet with such foul offering? Have no egoism while you serve the people.”

“Seva is the best sadhana”, Baba says, “for eliminating the nefarious pull of the mind towards desire.”

Social service is service to God

“You can please Sai only by performing your duties to the fullest, serving society whenever and wherever you get the opportunity. Service is not limited to serving individuals. Any action that benefits the country is service. One should experience Divinity through the service rendered. There is no distinction between acts of service. It is immaterial whether you are serving the poor or the rich. You should be able to serve anyone, at any place, and under any circumstances.”

On the occasion of Guru Poornima on the 18th of July in 1989, in the Poorna Chandra Auditorium, Baba said,

“The body has been given to man for the performance of right action. Every person has to discharge his duties in life. It is a sin to ignore one's duties. When everyone performs his duties, the nation will prosper. Perform your duties regardless of what others may say or do.

Engage yourselves in selfless service. Consider social service as service to God. This is the easiest way to earn the love of God. The best way to love God is to love all and serve all. Your entire life will be sanctified thereby.”

Ref: Sathya Sai Speaks, Vol. XXII, Chapter-23.

Motivation for service

“God will not ask you, “When and where did you do service?” He will ask, “With what motive did you do it? What was the intention that prompted you?” But God seeks quality, the purity of the mind, the nobility of the motive.”

In the opening remarks of a discourse when Baba was in Mumbai on 29th of March, 1967, He said,

“Seva is the very essence of Bhakthi (devotion), the very breath of a Bhaktha (devotee), his very nature. It springs from the conviction and experience that all beings are God's children, that all bodies are altars where God is installed, that He resides in all places.”

Ref: Sathya Sai Speaks, Vol. VII, Chapter-14.

The example of Hanuman

Bhagawan Baba often gives the example of Hanuman from the epic of Ramayana to demonstrate the ideals of service. Here is what Baba said in a discourse addressed to the Seva Dal volunteers at a workshop on Health and Hygiene at Abbotsbury, Chennai on 25th Jan 1985:

“Seva is a small word, but it is filled with immense spiritual significance. Hanuman is the supreme exemplar of the ideal of service. When the Rakshasas (demons) asked Hanuman, during his search for Sita in Lanka, who he was, he replied simply: "Daasoham Kosalendrasya." He was content to describe himself as the humble servant of Lord Rama. Though he was strong, learned, and virtuous, he had no trace of pride. That is a fine example of uprooting of the ego, which service must bring about in us. No one can serve another while one’s ego is rampant. The attitudes of mutual help and selfless service develop the "humanness" of man and help manifest the Divinity latent in him.

Seva must be viewed as the highest form of sadhana. Serving the poor is the best form of sadhana. God's grace will flow when Seva is done without any expectation of reward or recognition. Whenever Ahamkaram (ego) and Abhimanam (attachment) raise their heads while performing Seva, they should be eliminated altogether.”

Ref: “Sathya Sai Speaks” – Vol. XVIII, Chapter-2

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