What is seva?

When a thing needs to be done but there is no one to do it, if I do it
without expecting any recognition, reward, acceptance or award, then that is
called seva. Other actions are only some kind of transactions done with some
expectation behind them.

A yet more important point in doing seva is that if my seva is in fact doing
damage to the person I intend to serve, then however humbly I claim to be
doing seva, it won’t be appreciated with the same spirit and attitude by the
receiver. And the tragedy is that in real life most so-called seva is done
for publicity or personal satisfaction and never serves a true purpose. And
those who are in need continue to suffer, in fact more than before such
selfish seva was done to them. Once example will suffice to prove this.
People living in huts are moved to temporary shelter to construct permanent
houses for them. But after the inauguration and publicity, no one pays any
attention to the project. So, losing their huts and living in temporary
shelter camps, their life becomes even more miserable than it had been
living in huts. Instead of serving their needs, they are exploited by
selfish people.

As also mentioned in discussing dana and charity, we should never do any
seva to satisfy our ego or just to feel good. In such seva, we are more
exploiting others who are in need, with a goal to satisfy our need. And
exploitation done in any name or form is sin against God and humanity.

Dayanand Bharati, Gurukulam. August 31, 2009.