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Service, The World's Greatest Prayer

"Service in this world is the greatest prayer, Loving the people around is the real devotion".

Swami Chinmayananda

For a beginner in spirituality it may appear that Jnana Yoga (the path of Knowledge), Bhakti Yoga (the path of Devotion or Love) and Karma Yoga (the path of Action) are independent paths leading to the Supreme. But the fact is that all these seemingly different paths of Knowledge, Love and Service are inseparably interconnected very well with each other. For a mother unconditional love for the child emerges form the knowledge that it is her child; and this love expresses in terms of untiring care for the baby. Similarly I look after my body ceaselessly only because of the knowledge that it is my body. Again, my love for my body is unlimited and unconditional.

Hence we find that wherever there is the knowledge of oneness, love and service become spontaneous. In many films we see that the two bitter enemies embrace each other in love when they come to know from their mother that they are but brothers born to the same parents!

In the same way the great saints and sages of all times embrace the whole world with infinite love and compassion when they realize this oneness that the Self in them is the Self of all beings. Such God men live on the earth ever serving and loving others, not to gain anything from the world but only as an expression of the attainment of the divine vision of their oneness with the totality.

It was in 1970. An old women clad in white sari, her face wrinkled and a beatific smile playing on her lips, went and approached the sales assistant of Dun lops in Kolkata. The old lady showed the letter from the MD saying that the bearer be given 5 tyres and tubes free for the use in a jeep. The district manager recognized her as Mother Teresa and readily assured her that the materials would be delivered soon.

A cup of tea was offered to Mother for which she asked what the price of a cup was. When told that it was 10 paise, she said, "Then give that 10 paisa to me. I have in my home children who have not tasted tea even once in their lives." Hearing this all the other employees came forward for help. They collected Rs 35/- and handed it over to Mother. She accepted the amount saying, "May God bless you all."

The shopkeeper again assured her, "Mother, you may go. We shall arrange to deliver the goods today itself at Tollygunj." Mother smiled and asked, "How much will it cost the company to deliver them?" When the amount was told she said, "Give that money to me. It will help feed one or two patients for a day or two. I have come in a jeep and I shall take the materials in it." As that request was against the company rules, but at the same time, touched by Mothers' care and concern for the poor, the workers there gathered and collected Rs 70/ - and handed it over to Mother. The materials were loaded into the jeep and as it left she blessed them all. To care for anyone else enough to make their problems one's own is the beginning of one's spiritual development. As Mahatma Gandhiji used to say, the best way to find your Self is to lose yourself in the service of others!

Let us recollect the golden words of Shri Rabindranath Tagore where he says: "I slept and dreamt that life was joy; I awoke and saw that life was service: I acted and behold, service was joy!"

And how wonderful it is that nobody need to wait even a single moment to serve others as there is not even a single moment when one cannot serve others!

Service need not necessarily mean feeding the poor and clothing the naked. We can always serve others by our consoling words and cheering smile, by our patient listening and encouraging pat. As a great poet expresses it so well:

"If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain;

.If I can ease one life the aching or cool one pain;

Or help one fainting Robin unto his nest again;

I shall not live in vain ..."

May we derive the greatest joy in the very act of service and not in the expected gain or reward.

About the author

This article is written for the Vedanta Vani Magazine of Chinmaya Mission

Story first published: Wednesday, December 16, 2009, 11:22 [IST]
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