Seva – A Hallmark of Love
On the construction of the Hospital
The dedication of the sevadars to seva, their desire to accomplish the maximum in the minimum possible time, is unbelievable. During the time we were still digging the foundations, the sevadars approached the Master and said, “Maharaj Ji, please ask the engineers to put lights on the spot where we are digging.” When asked why they needed the lights, they submitted, “Hazur, we are hardly able to do much during the day’s work and so much still has to be done. We want to work for a few hours during the night also.” And when the Master declined their request with a loving smile, their faces reflected their disappointment.
Curious passersby at the site sometimes wonder at the power that makes the sevadars move with such energy and speed. At times I too feel amazed, only to remember the next moment that the sevadars derive energy from their devotion for the Master – inspired by his omnipresent grace and love. In all these months, never have I seen the sevadars complaining about the hardships of life at the construction site, made all the more difficult by the inclemencies of the weather. During the last sixteen months they have faced rain and storm, hail and frost, and the hot summer winds. They have lived in tents, under freshly laid damp roofs, under awnings, on the rough floors of the unfinished corridors. They have often been drenched by icy showers in winter and have been almost baked by the blazing sun and hot winds in the tropical summer. But nothing can shake them from their rock-like dedication to seva. It is not in their nature to complain. There is only one exception: on some days, when some of us are feeling elated, almost proud, at finishing the day’s work early, one of the spokesmen of the sevadars comes and complains, almost in an accusing tone, “Sir, you are not giving us enough work, we are sitting idle.”
I feel very small again. Yes, no one can give enough work to them, for they sometimes finish a day’s work in a few hours. They will not stop for rest, they take the minimum time off for lunch, and I wonder if they ever feel tired. One day, seeing an old sevadar well over sixty working without a stop, I went up to him and said, “My good friend, please take a few minutes’ rest – I’ve seen you working for the last few hours without a break even to gain your breath. You must be feeling tired.” “Tired,” he repeated in a hurt voice, “I am not tired. If you could give me seva for the next twelve hours, I would be grateful and happy to do it.” And turning away, he was again engrossed in his task.
I pondered; he was right. Does a mother feel tired or complain when she keeps a day-and-night vigil over her sick child? Does a lover grudge to do the bidding of the beloved, however hard it may be? I have heard old satsangis say that if a disciple does seva with a spirit of surrender, if his approach is that of love and devotion, and he has only one desire in his heart – the desire to please his Master – he will not feel tired. And is the Master not serving his disciples with the same spirit of love: never stopping, never complaining, ever vigilant, accepting all the toil and hardships of the arduous task of looking after his flock of sheep with an unflinching concern, with an ever-loving, kind smile?
It has been a privilege for all of us to see his inspiring power, blending with the devotion of his children and taking the shape of beams and columns, walls and lintels, and day after day growing into a monument of love and devotion.
Legacy of Love