The Russian Doll of Hinduism in Ten Sanskrit Terms
Seva means service. Just as a good Hindu’s life is defined by dharma, so too is dharma defined by service. The great Indian poet and philosopher Rabindranath Tagore put it this way: “I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.”
This is because Brahman is everywhere and in all things and in all people; therefore, the best way to “connect” Atman with it is to surrender it to Brahman through service. In seva we act not for personal gratification, but to give ourselves, our small egos that are by definition selfish, to the whole, to Brahman; by doing so we expand ourselves, take on the qualities of Brahman, which are strength, love and joy. We become bigger, better people. Brahman might be everywhere; but a good Hindu knows that It is most present in the human form: to serve It is to serve humanity, and to serve humanity is to serve Brahman.
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