Seva and Devotion

Teachings from a satsang with Anandi Ma


Seva and bhakti are interrelated. Who do you do seva for? That’s where it starts; if you have some level of love or devotion for someone, then you will be motivated to do seva for that person. At the same time, the two go together in a cycle. You may be with a teacher for whom you do not have much devotion to start with, but as you perform seva, the heart opens up. The proximity of the teacher, the lifestyle, words, and actions of the teacher are forces that inspire you and open up the heart toward devotion. It goes both ways.

Devotion as spiritual practice

Many persons have nothing but devotion and that devotion motivates them to do only seva. That becomes their spiritual practice. Devotion gives the opening to do seva; at the same time, the more seva is done, the more devotion will spring forth as well. Many have no devotion, but they start seva and eventually they attain tremendous levels of devotion. It’s like a person and his or her shadow, they go hand-in-hand — they cannot be separated.

Seva doesn’t mean just going out and doing something, but at the same time, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to physically attend to the teacher. Guruji said the greatest seva you can do is your spiritual practice. Wherever you are, even in your home, doing your spiritual practices is satsang, and seva as well.

Seva as a tool for developing devotion

We have several blocks that keep our hearts closed. Our ego, samskaras of past births — basically the mind creates the blocks. We are standing in front of a mirror that in many ways is the reflection of the mind. The mirror is coated with a thick layer of dust and we cannot see our true selves.

Seva is the process of cleaning the mirror. Any opportunity to be in the proximity of the teacher and perform seva, in whatever way, at whatever level, is a cleansing process that removes those blocks, enabling us to see our true selves very distinctly and clearly.