Sakhis Sewa, Selfless Service

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Jun 1, 2004
It was during the time of Guru Arjan Dev Jee. Sangat was coming from Kabul (Afghanistan) to Amritsar for darshan of Gurujee. They met a Sikh and his wife on their way. This Sikh did a lot of sewa of the sangat. He massaged their legs, waved fan over them as they rested, brought water for them, everything. The next day they proceeded with this Sikh to Amritsar. As they reached Darbar Sahib, the jathedar of that Kabul sangat asked a few boys to take care of the shoes of everyone. None of the boys was ready to do it, as they all were very much eager to be the first ones to have darshan of Gurujee. At last this Sikh came forward and said I shall do it.

The sangat went inside and waited for 30-45 minutes, but Gurujee didn't show up. Then the jathedar went ahead and asked Baba Buddha Jee where Gurujee was.

Babajee : Gurujee has gone to see the sangat coming from Kabul.

Jathedar : But we are the sangat from Kabul!

Babajee : Didn't you meet Gurujee?

Jathedar : No Babajee, we didn't. But we met a Sikh and his wife and they did a lot of sewa.

Babajee : Where is that Sikh now?

Jathedar : We left him to look after the shoes of the sangat.

Babajee, followed by the jathedar, followed by the entire sangat went outside to look for that Sikh. They saw him cleaning all the shoes with his own chola.

It was none other than Guru Arjan Dev Jee Himself

Baba Buddha Jee went forward and took away the pair of shoes Gurujee was cleaning. Babajee said "Why are you doing this?". The entire sangat was now in tears. Gurujee smiled and said "Babajee, I haven't seen Guru Nanak Dev Jee, but you have. Take a look again at this pair of shoes". Babajee took a good look at the pair of shoes, and since he had been with Guru Nanak Dev Jee, he immediately recognized that it was Guru Nanak Dev Jee's pair of shoes.

Moral of the sakhi : When doing sewa at the Gurdwara, do it with this thought in mind that who knows who is visiting the Gurdwara today! Who knows which Gurmukh soul has come today! If you are cleaning a small kid's shoes, have in mind that it could belong to one of the Sahibzaade. If you are cleaning a bibi's shoes, have in mind that it could belong to Bibi Bhani. If you are cleaning a bhai ji's shoes, have in mind that it could belong to Bhai Bailo.


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Feb 1, 2010
I am very confused about Seva. Is it limited to cleaning shoes, sweeping floors or cleaning in Gurudwara, distributing langar etc.? How does it help society at large? How does it spread sikhism? Sikh public schools charge exorbitant fees. There is a lack of sikh schools and professional institutions for the down-trodden. A big sikh hospital in Delhi has been under construction for last 15 years because of power and monetary conflicts. Sikh politicians give Lalloo a run for his money.
Somewhere the message of Gurbani has been been lost and has been replaced by a herd mentality and self-gratification by symbolic deeds.
Oct 21, 2009
I am giving below some Tuks that deal with Sewa. It may be useful for reference.

bDw ctI jo Bry nw guxu nw aupkwru ] (2, 787-17)
ivic dunIAw syv kmweIAY ] qw drgh bYsxu pweIAY ] (1, 26-1)
jo suKu pRB goibMd kI syvw so suKu rwij n lhIAY ] (kbIr, 336-8)
sIsu vFy kir bYsxu dIjY ivxu isr syv krIjY ] (1, 558-7)
hau siqguru syvI Awpxw iek min iek iciq Bwie ] (3, 26-4)
syvk kau syvw bin AweI ] hukmu bUiJ prm pdu pweI ] (5, 292-18)
siqguru syivAY shju aUpjY haumY iqRsnw swir ] (3, 65-6)
gur kI syvw gur Bgiq hY ivrlw pwey koie ] (3, 66-16)
siqguru syiv dyKhu pRBu nYnI ] (1, 416-14)
ijs dI syvw kIqI iPir lyKw mMgIAY sw syvw AauKI hoeI ] nwnk syvw kr krhu hir
gur sPl drsn kI iPir lyKw mMgY n koeI ] (4, 306-14)
siqgur kI syvw gwKVI isru dIjY Awpu gvwie ] (3, 27-8)
gur kw syvku pwrbRhmu iDAwey ] (5, 1075-5)
syvw suriq sbid vIcwir ] jpu qpu sMjmu haumY mwir ] (1, 1343-3)
ugur syvw qpW isir qpu swru ] (3, 423-13)
ijn qUM syivAw Bwau kir syeI purK sujwn ] (5, 52-5)
syvw QorI mwgnu bhuqw ] (5, 738-9)
siqgur kI syvw sPl hY jy ko kry icqu lwey ] (3, 552-6)
siqgur syqI gxq ij rKY hlq plqu sBu iqs kw gieAw ] (4, 307-4)
hsqI isir ijau AMksu hY Ahrix ijau isru dyie ] mnu qnu AwgY rwiK kY aUBI syv
kryie ] (3, 647-19)
hir syvw muiK AMimRq nwmu ] (5, 375-4)
gur syvw ibnu Bgiq n hoeI ] (1, 1342-9)
gur kI syvw gur Bgiq hY ivrlw pwey koie ] (1, 66-16)
hir kw syvku so hir jyhw ] Bydu n jwxhu mwxs dyhw ] (5, 1076-3)
Awpu gvwie syvw kry qw ikCu pwey mwnu ] (2, 474-10)
syvw krq hoie inhkwmI ] iqs kau hoq prwpiq suAwmI ] (5, 286-19)

hukmu buJY so syvku khIAY ] burw Blw duie smsir shIAY ] (5, 1076-9)

The following Tuks are also given in Bani that deals with Self less service.

1a. Seva

sB dunIAw Awvx jwxIAw ]3] (26-1, isrIrwgu, mÚ 1)
All the world continues coming and going in reincarnation. ||3||
ivic dunIAw syv kmweIAY ] (26-1, isrIrwgu, mÚ 1)
In the midst of this world, do seva,


syvw qy sdw suKu pwieAw gurmuiK shij smwvixAw ]7] (125-19, mwJ, mÚ 3)
Through selfless service, eternal peace is obtained. The Gurmukh is absorbed in intuitive peace. ||7||
kir syvw qUM swD kI ho kwtIAY jm jwlu ]1] (214-7, gOVI mwlvw, mÚ 5)
Do seva, selfless service, for the Holy Saints, and the noose of Death shall be cut away. ||1||
jyqy jIA qyqy siB qyry ivxu syvw Plu iksY nwhI ] (354-18, Awsw, mÚ 1)
As many living beings are there are, they are all Yours. Without selfless service, no one obtains any reward.
5. Selfless Servant
syvku dwsu Bgqu jnu soeI ] (355-9, Awsw, mÚ 1)
He alone is the selfless servant, slave and humble devotee,
Twkur kw dwsu gurmuiK hoeI ] (355-9, Awsw, mÚ 1)
who as Gurmukh, becomes the slave of his Lord and Master.

6. Self less Service
haumY ivic syvw n hoveI qw mnu ibrQw jwie ]1] (560-12, vfhMsu, mÚ 3)
In egotism, selfless service cannot be performed, and so the soul goes unfulfilled. ||1||

The two persons who have impressed me most by selfless service to the Society would be Sant Pooran singh ji[Pingalwade] and Mother Teresa.
We may have some other as well.

The word sewa has many meanings in the sikhism. One kind of sewa refers to the Lord and this is the second type of sewa that Guru sahibs have edicted for sikhs for the cleansing of mind. This kind of sewa also leads to provide the eternal peace and has been stated to be one of the path for the realisation.

Do seva, selfless service, for the Holy Saints, and the noose of Death shall be cut away [214-7]

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