There was a lecture held recently at a small convention on social service in Bangalore city. The speaker said, “Seva is just not about helping the needy. It is about the ones who receive help, help others like themselves in turn. And thus, Seva should be continuous”. A simple thought, and yet it makes a great impact. Catherine Ryan Hyde’s book, Pay it Forward, tells a story that follows the same principle. There are three stages in our life – Infant, Youth, Elder. At Infant and Elder stages (when one is a child, and when one is old), we always receive from the society. Youth is the stage or the time, when we are able to give to the society. Fame and affluence are materials that come at the cost of hard work as well as the wealth of the other lower classes of the society. It is not the wealth that one has to give away, for that would be unfair. One thing we all have in common is the twenty four hours of time. Some part of that time could be used to engage in Seva. One may be cynical about the concept of social service. But using the concept of pay it forward, it can do wonders in transforming a society. Consider a sample society like Bangalore. At almost every traffic signal, one find beggars – elders, women and children alike. At every garbage dumping site, we can find a few rag pickers. There are people who sleep on the pavements. If one takes some time off their schedule, and helps just one person out of the lot, by finding a home for destitute, or an orphanage perhaps, it would make a great deal of an impact on the entire society. The spread of word by the same class of people takes these people off the streets and helps them live in a more civilized environment where they are educated, learn to work, and find a purpose to life. A chain of people helping each other, growing in geometric progression is what might be that miracle we have all been waiting for, to raise the standard of living, of not just our city, nor our state, neither our country, but the world as a whole. Indian culture believes in every human being family.
अयं निज: परो वेति गणना लघुचेतसाम्। उदारमनसानां तु वसुधैव कुटुंबकम्॥
(The thinking that this is mine, or someone else’s is that of a narrow minded Person, For a Broad Minded Person, the world is family.) You may feel inhibitions to help the ones on the streets, but those are not the only ways of Seva. One can volunteer in government schools to teach the children spoken English, or Computers. One can volunteer at Hospitals to help the underprivileged find their way around the formalities. There are homes for disabled children, where one can try to bring a smile on a child’s face. Where there is a will, there is a way. We have been a developing country for so long. It is time for us to transform our nation first, and then the world itself. The fight for power has drowned the cries of hunger, thirst and desperation. We are stronger for we understand compassion. We understand the meaning of humanity, and we will not let carnal rage of power take over our instincts to protect our own people. When you follow Seva, whether you are giver or the receiver, remember to ‘Pay it Forward’. If you do not know where to begin please visit www.youthforseva.org
(The whole world is one single family)