Manava Seva in fact means and should unfold as – service to all beings…
Along the banks of the holy Ganga,
The astute Guru took His disciples for a walk,
The impact of His teachings,
He wished to unlock,
Their growth he needed to assess,
Time to analyse with what finesse,
Their minds they did dress…
So, on that day, even as the rays of the sun shone radiantly gay, this is what that sage Master had to say –
My children, we must no longer delay,
A lot of time has flown,
Are you quite ready to soar high and fly,
All on your own…?
I would like to hear from you,
How you have grown…as well as,
All that you have assimilated and known…
“Oh! Gurudev, so grateful am I,
I have learnt to recite all the vedic chants,
My life vastly they do enhance…”
“And I, Oh! Master, I must express, you did me enormously bless,
I have made devotional songs my domain,
Hymns to the Lord does my heart reign…”
“As for me, my revered Teacher,
My soul seeks to serve all to the best of my ability…”
The session continued thus…so on and so forth…
On his disciples though he did dote,
However, the Master knew,
None were as yet ready or worthy of his note,
He surmised all to be half-baked,
Flailing in mid-ocean,
As yet untouched was their core,
They were a mammoth distance away from the Shore…
So, my dears…you all seemed to have achieved a lot…your beaming smiles reflect this thought. Did you say you have mastered the vedic chants…? But, little one, have you absorbed the meaning of each word…? The colossal depth of each verse…have you been able to practice…or has it all been mere humdrum rote…?
‘Oh! Master, most high…why do you say so…everyone appreciates the way I chant…’
Your voice modulation is quite exact…the intonations have been perfected surely…but has it in any way opened your heart to the essence of the Vedas…? Has it enhanced that feeling of expansion, accord and harmony at all?
Has it revealed that feeling of Oneness…that includes the environment? All our sacred texts contain the earliest messages for ecological preservation…of bringing about a balance…through mutual respect. Has it impressed your thought process to live in harmony with nature and all beings…to recognize the intrinsic truth…that divinity exists in all elements, including plants, birds and animals? The rishis of the past have always had a deep reverence for nature. Their methodology was not mere superstitious lore… they intensely perceived the truth, that all material manifestations had their origin in the spiritual. Their teachings and expressions had love and tolerance as their foundation….to practice wholesome values…and to value every bit in creation….to rejoice in that joyful spirit of camaraderie.
You may convince yourself, but can you delude me…who watches over all your thoughts, words and actions…?
Let us go through a few of these passages and then you may recollect and evaluate your evolution and sync. Mere perfection in reading and reciting is not enough; the crucial test…the assessment of your strength lies in putting all that you have learnt into practice.
Can you not recall that Sant Jnaneshwar made a buffalo recite sacrosanct verses from the holy Bhagawat Gita, just so as to demonstrate to some Sanskrit scholars, who were mighty proud of their learning, that divinity existed in all living beings…?
yo mam pasyati sarvatra sarvam ca mayi pasyati tasyaham na pranasyami sa ca me na pranasyati | (BG. 6.30)
sarva-bhuta-sthitam yo mam bhajaty ekatvam asthitah sarvatha vartamano ’pi sa yogi mayi vartate | (BG. 6.31)
For one who sees Me everywhere and sees everything in Me, I am never lost, nor is he ever lost to Me.
Such a yogi who knows that I and the Soul within all creatures are One, always abides in Me, whatever may be his living circumstances.
Yo rudro agnau yo apsu ya oshhadhishhu
Yo rudro vishva bhuvanaaavivesha |
Tasmai rudraya namo astu | (Sri Rudram Anuvaka 11)
The Rudra in the fire, in the waters, in the plants, the Rudra that hath entered all beings, to that Rudra, we bow and offer homage.
Namo vanyaya cha kakshyaya cha | (Sri Rudram Anuvaka 6)
Salutations to Him who exists as trees in forests and to Him who exists as plants in bushes.
Pashunam pataye namo (Sri Rudram Anuvaka 2)
Salutations to the Lord of all creatures…
And so, dear ones, until we realize Brahman, we all remain pashus…tied with the string of utter ignorance…continuously seeking the incessant grace of Pashupati.
Are you, my dear, truly practicing what you are reciting or should I elaborate on the times I have seen you slipping…and known you to falter?
What about this line from Sri Rudram Anuvaka 4 –
Namah Svabhya Svapathibhyascha Vo Namah…here don’t you offer Salutations to the One who is in the form of a dog…and Who protects dogs…? Then why are you tainting your moments with shades of hypocrisy…?
And you, child…you say you have lost yourself in singing His glories…you have been blessed with a wondrous voice with excellent pitch and divine rhythm… Yes, there are many enchanting lyrics that invoke His blessings and Presence…that seek His mercy and compassion…yet, when any being four legged or two…winged or finned approaches you…what do you do…rather may I ask…what have you been doing…? Need I say more? I am sure you are able to recount the incidents I am referring to.
Singing should not be a mechanical offering…it should be a prayer from the individual heart to the Cosmic Heart…from a micro soul to the Supreme Soul…when you sing you must seek His benevolence for every atom of creation…peace and harmony…sumati, sanmati, sahara, daya…for all those in need…the suffering, the hunger and thirst of others…be it of any being should bring tears and an immediate response from your heart…Is it so as yet…? The place where you reside should be a haven for all, whatever maybe their shape…
And you, you spoke about service…that is so beautiful…if you can serve another with your every breath…you have understood the true meaning and purpose of life…and the purport of the texts you have been studying. You can serve even as you go about your daily chores…while you chant or sing…or sweep the floor…the intent is important. What is even more vital is your eagerness to serve…to reach out…whenever the need arises…whatever maybe the time. Am sure you all remember the words of Beloved Bhagawan…our dear Lord…our Param Guru, Whose life is an eternal message…Whose magnanimous acts of kindness make compassion blush – Did He not make us aware of ‘Samastha Jeeva Sukhino Bhavantu’…? He directly feels the pain, hunger, thirst and agony of every living thing. Just as the ‘all’ in ‘Love All, Serve All’ refers to each and every creature…so too, in the statement ‘Manava Seva is Madhava Seva…’ ‘manava’ refers to all beings…for He resides in all hearts… Hasn’t He also declared, “I am in every heart, that is the temple where I dwell…” Ah! And then He went on to say – “There is only one royal road for the spiritual journey…love, love, love…Love for ALL beings as manifestations of the SAME DIVINITY that is the very core of oneself…”?
If we ignore this Oneness we remain stagnant…for only when knowledge combines with empathy…with kindred sentiments…when compassion doesn’t remain just a theory, but becomes a natural flow of pure love that synthesizes and encompasses all beings…beyond boundaries of caste, creed, culture and states of evolution…that is when you are living in awareness of a heightened state of being…you metamorphose into a worthy child of your Master…you rise from pashu to human to divine…then, and only then, your salutations to Pashupati…the most benevolent Lord of all creatures is accepted in as much a wholesome way as it is being offered…Your acts of service should be a ceaseless pristine worship of the Lord.
Even as you continue your spiritual practice with renewed gusto…let me conclude this day’s session with sentiments expressed by none other than our sweet Lord when He had incarnated and enchanted all as Sai of Shirdi –
“The appeasement of the dog’s hunger is the same as Mine. The dog has got a soul; the creatures may be different, but the hunger of all is the same, though some speak and others are dumb (mute). Know for certain, that he who feeds the hungry, really serves Me with food. Regard this as an axiomatic Truth.”
Samastha Lokaah Sukhino Bhavantu.