Prasthanatrayi Swaminarayan Bhashyam (Study)

by Sadhu Gyanananddas | 2021 | 123,778 words

This page relates ‘Significance of Seva (service)’ of the study on the Prasthanatrayi Swaminarayan Bhashyam in Light of Swaminarayan Vachanamrut (Vacanamrita). His 18th-century teachings belong to Vedanta philosophy and were compiled as the Vacanamrita, revolving around the five ontological entities of Jiva, Ishvara, Maya, Aksharabrahman, and Parabrahman. Roughly 200 years later, Bhadreshdas composed a commentary (Bhasya) correlating the principles of Vachanamrut.

8.2. Significance of Sevā (service)

sevādharmo paramagahano yogināmapi agamyaḥ

“To perform seva is indeed very difficult for yogis also.”

In every religion of the world, sevā (service) is accepted as an active part of religion and spirituality. Though, it is very difficult to accomplish it in the manner through which it becomes the means to attain ultimate liberation. That is why it is called difficult even for yogis. In the Svāminārāyaṇa School of Vedanta, sevā is a glorious spiritual means that can please the Guru and Hari.

Svāminārāyaṇa highlights the benefit of sevā in the Vacanāmṛta:

“If the vruttis of the indriyas are engaged in the service of Parabrahman Bhagwān and His utmost devotee, then the antaḥkaraṇa is purified and the sins that have been attached to the jīva since time immemorial are eliminated.”(Vacanāmṛta Gadhadā I/8, p.37)

Sevā is not just a matter of debate or proverb which finds its place in the scriptures only. Svāminārāyaṇa gives a live example of a devotee who had achieved the highest peak of sevā.

He states:

“Just as Ukā Khāchar has become passionate to serving the sādhus, in the same manner, if one becomes passionate to serving Parabrahman and His Santa to the extent that one would not be able to stay for even a moment without serving them, then all of the malign desires in one's antaḥkaraṇa will be destroyed.” (Vacanāmṛta Gadhadā II/25, pp. 449-450)

The Bhagavad-Gītā also speaks the glory of sevā in the fourth chapter.

“Acquire this knowledge from a Parabrahman-realized master by humble respect, by sincere inquiry, and by service. The wise who have realized the truth will teach you.”[1]

Bhadreśadāsa comments on ‘by service’:

sevayā prakaṭaparamātmabhavaprakarṣavibhūṣitayā divyabhāvayuktābhi-snehaśīlayā śuśrūṣayā |” (Bhagavad-Gītā 4/34, p.109)

“A devotee when serves another devotee with the understanding that this devotee is associated with the manifest form of Parabrahman. This understanding brings the super quality in sevā.”

In the field of sevā, a great example is of Satyakāma Jābālī. In his childhood, he wanted to go to a Gurukula and study the scriptures in order to become a great scholar. He took the permission of his mother and walked straight to the Guru, Gautama Ṛṣi. After noticing his innocence, the Guru accepted him as his disciple. Satyakāma was very happy. He wanted to fulfill his wish to study the scriptures and attain knowledge.

But to his astounding, the Guru said:

taṃ hovāca naitadabrāhmaṇo vivaktumarhati samidhaṃ
somyāharopa tvā neṣye na satyadagā iti tamupanīya
kṛśānāmabalānāṃ catuḥśatā gā nirākṛtyovācemāḥ
somyānusaṃvrajeti tā abhiprasthapayannuvāca
nāsahasreṇāvarteyeti sa ha varṣagaṇaṃ provāsa tā yadā sahasraṃ sampeduḥ ||

“Having initiated him, he chose four hundred lean and weak cows, and said: ‘Tend these, dear.’ He drove them out and said to himself, ‘I shall not return unless I bring back a thousand.’ He stayed a number of years in the forest, untill the cows had become a thousand.”

Satyakāma was a firm disciple. He did sevā of the cows as per his Guru’s wish. After obeying the Guru’s command with perfection, he returned to Gurukula. His face was shining due to brahmabhāva. The Guru observed it in first glance.

He said:

brahmavidiva vai somya bhāsi ko nu tvānuśaśāsetyanye
manuṣyebhya iti ha pratijajñe bhagavān stveva me kāme brūyāt ||

“The Guru said: ‘dear, you shine like one who knows Brahman. Who then has taught you?’ He replied: ‘Not anyone. But you only, Sir, I wish, should teach me”

śrutaṃ hyeva me bhagavaddṛśebhya ācāryāddhaiva vidyā viditā, sādhiṣṭhaṃ prāpatīti tasmai haitadevovācātra ha na kiṃcana, vīyāyeti vīyāyeti ||[4]

“Satyakāma said, ‘For I have heard from men like you, Sir, that only knowledge which is learned from a teacher (ācārya) leads to really good.’ Then he taught him the same knowledge.”

In this manner, sevā captures a sublime place amongst the spiritual endeavors. In the Svāminārāyaṇa tradition, sevā becomes a part of life. The devotees serve other devotees with understanding their glory.[5]

Svāminārāyaṇa himself declares:

“Therefore, in order to please Parabrahman, I desire only to serve devotees of Parabrahman in this life and all subsequent lives. Furthermore, just as this is my resolution, all of you should also make the same resolution.”(Vacanāmṛta Gadhadā II/28, p.456)

Footnotes and references:


Bhagavad-Gītā 4/34


Chāndogya-upaniṣad XII 4/9/2


Chāndogya-upaniṣad XII 4/9/3


Vacanāmṛta Gadhadā II/28

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