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The Secret of Free Service
Address to abhyasis from Gujarat, 23rd October 2006, Chennai, Tamilnadu, India
Pranam, everybody. I have already wished you all Nutan Varsha Mubaarak [Gujarati New Year greetings], and may you have a hundred more. My Master always said, blessings should be given, not sought, because when you ask for a blessing, you only ask for what you want, rarely for what you need. And that circumscribes the Master’s intention, because he wanted to give, let us say, the whole world—like my brother here who invited me to ‘Little Gujarat’. So I said that this is how we behave. Instead of asking the guru for the world, we say, “Let Bhavnagar not have any more earthquakes.” Then later you may say, “Please, God. Now, also include Surat.” Isn’t it?
So it is better not to ask. Let him decide what he wants to give us. Because every day when I go on my walk, you know, “Let me please...,” “Give me this...,” “Give me that...”—it becomes a little frustrating. It is like a son who wants something his father has and he says, “Give me this.” And the father says, “Why do you ask? Everything here is yours.” When we are small children, we live like that. If this boy’s father has a car and somebody says, “Kiski gaadi hai? [Whose car is this?]”, he won’t say, “Mere pita ki gaadi hai.[It is my father’s car.]” He will say, “Meri gaadi hai. [It is my car.]” Why do we lose this innocence, this sense of oneness, this sense of possessing everything that my father possesses?
I have said so many times, I got this hint in Babuji’s Voice Real, where he says in his circular fashion, “I never thought that what was my Master’s was not also mine.” Now, thousands of people have read Voice Real. When I told Babuji, “This secret I saw in this book,” he said, “Acchcha, humne likha hai? Dekho, hazaaron log padte hain per tumne pakda isko. [I wrote this? See, thousands read this but you have understood it.]” So even when we read, we should read with perspicacity, with attention, because like a whole field of gehun [wheat], only the grain is important. Bhoosa [chaff] is important, but for the cows. We are not breeding cows in ashrams. We are trying to develop human beings. They are happy with charaai [grass]; we need the grain.
So please learn not to ask, because when we say, “He is the annadaata—he is the all-giver,” why should we ask for anything? It comes. And if you are impatient and want it before it is time for it, you will not get. Suppose this three year old girl says, “Mummy, I want to marry.” Of course, when it is three years old, you will laugh. You will tell your neighbour, “Dekho, bacchi shaadi karna chahti hai. Meri laadli. [See, my little girl wants to marry. My darling,]”—and things like that. But suppose she is eight and says, “I want to get married,” you will say, “Chup rah, bevakoof. [Be quiet, fool.]” And if she is twelve, you will stop her from going to school. “Kucch maamla gadbad to nahin hai school mein? [Is something untoward going on in the school?]” When your child comes [of the age] to be married, she will be married. Aaj kal toh fashion hai [Nowadays it is fashionable]—loving. Not luving [clove] that you take after a meal, but real loving! I remember a joke—I had a meal and they said, “Tumne luving aapoo. [Would you like a clove?]” I said, “Amnaa bhojan pacchi? [After the meal?]” I said, “Manne do do luving joyiye [I want two cloves!” a play on the word luving]. It’s an old joke; I still remember.
So, it should not be that way. It should be uchit—uchit cheez, uchit vakt per uchit upyog [appropriate—appropriate use of the right thing at the right time]. Not money for buying ice-cream, sitting under the mango tree with a boyfriend. Money should be used carefully—the more you have, the more careful you must be, because only those who have more, waste more. A rikshawala doesn’t eat hamburgers and pizza. Rich people eat a hundred and eighty rupee pizza. Yesterday somebody told me this atrocious thing—one tiramisu for hundred and eighty rupees (that ice-cream cup)! And I’ve known when I was a student in Bombay, there was a paanwala near the Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan, and people used to come from Borivli to eat paan [betel-leaf] there. Can you believe? Mushoor paan! [Famous paan!] And of course, Gujaratis have always had money. Paan khaane ka shouk hai. [They like to eat paan.]They used to come. Chalo, paan kha aate hain.” “Kyan javaa nu?” [“Come, let us go and eat paan.” “Where do you want to go?”] “Arre, near Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan.”
So there should be no shouk [ardent desire] in Sahaj Marg. Pyaas kudrati hai, bhookh kudrati hai. [Thirst is natural, hunger is natural.] Allowed! Enough water to quench your thirst; enough food to eat and satisfy your hunger. But if you are rich and have a twenty thousand gallon tank on your house, it does not mean you should have a shower for two hours. Isn’t it? Scrubbing yourself, looking at yourself in the mirror when the water is going down, gallon by gallon. Washing, brushing teeth, and the water running. It is the people who have, who waste. So we must avoid, you see. Then, as Jayshreeben said, if you live in that way, you will not only have surplus, you will have a heart to part with that surplus, because then we live as our less endowed people live. And we can sympathize with them, and you can say, “Well, give!”
Babuji Maharaj said, “It does not matter whether you earn five rupees or five crore rupees. Keep what you want and give away the rest.” I have said this to some people, you see, and they said, “To whom should I give it?” I cannot say, give it to me! It is like two very intelligent people (one was a deputy minister, another was a state minister) who came to Shahjahanpur to see Babuji. They said, “Guru Maharaj, if you can show us one realised soul, we will join your sanstha.” And I was [mentally] kicking them, because you are sitting in front of the man who is liberating people, and they are asking him to show! They should see him and—finished. But Babuji, in his humility, said, “Kahiye, hum bataa denge toh aap kaise maanenge? [Tell me, if I were to tell you, how would you know]?”—How will you know that yeh pahuncha hua aadmi hai [this man is spiritually evolved]. And they went away. So, this is going up to the well and coming back without drinking the water.
So let us not waste our time foolishly. Saal ka mutlub yeh nahin ki mubaarak ki baat na ho. Resolution banna chahiye. Shapat toh nahin kahenge hum, per determination ke saath hamey kehna hai, khud ko, ki hum aaj se, jo saal aaj naya shuru ho raha hai [A new year does not mean there should be no greetings shared. A resolution must be made—I will not call it a vow—that we must resolve, with determination, that the ensuing year]I will use better than I used last year. I will use my time more usefully for my evolution.
Ab jab ek Marwari party dega pachaas logon ke liye, usme yeh Marwari ho to baked dish zaroor hona hai, aur ice-cream pachaas variety ke. [Now, when a Marwari gives a party for fifty people, there will be a baked dish and fifty varieties of ice cream.] Aur two hundred rupees per head, catering. Waste of money, you see. All pataatope [ostentation]. And people eat who don’t even thank you for it because they eat much more than they should. And if you throw a party for two hundred, they can throw a party for two thousand without turning a hair. Kyonki bulaate hain aise logon ko. Aam janon ko to nahin bulayenge. [Because they will call only important people, not ordinary folk.] Seth Vallabhdas, Pundit Ram Avatar Singh—all crorepatis. “Aaiye, aaiye, padhaariye.” Vahaan gate per ek aamras. Andar aakar baithte hi ek aur peene ke liye. Andar jaake thandai. Uske pehle do chhote chhote samose. Kitna kharch kiya tumne abhi tak? Accha kaam per lag sakta tha. Abhi bhi chalta hai. [“Welcome, welcome.” When you come to such a party, there is a mango drink at the gate, more refreshments and snacks when you come inside. How much money would have been spent like this? It could have been put to good use. All this goes on even today.] Whereas simple means like our ashram food is healthy, is tasty, and is cheap. How do you think we can feed so many people free here? Tell me. If I had to feed you like they feed in Marwari weddings, can I do it?
I am afraid I have broken Babuji’s rule because I am spending much more than he spent. In his time it was roti without ghee, daal and one subji [vegetable dish]. Subji was in a katori [small cup]—weak water with one piece of potato. People were happy. Nobody complained. The tea was weak, but there was no tea on earth that could taste like that tea. Because that tea was not made of just tea leaves and sugar. It had divinity in it. It was amrit [nectar]. You can ask anybody who has lived in Shahjahanpur what divine pleasure we had in eating that simple food, drinking that simple tea. And in the morning we had some channa kurmura [gram snack] in a small cup, probably one big tablespoon, with our tea—and we were in heaven. Heaven is not made of food. Heaven is made of heavenly things: heavenly atmosphere, the Divine as our host, and bhaktas [devotees] who come there and eat. And when they eat in that divine consciousness, everything is amrit. Like King Midas who touched anything and it became gold. Anything the Master gives is amrit, whether it is solid, liquid or even gas—the atmosphere He brings. Anybody who stays here three days and crosses the gate knows. The moment they cross the gate, it is a different world. There is no transition point, no no-man’s land. Inside the gate, swarga [heaven]; outside the gate, well, whatever it is—certainly not swarga. Have you not felt?
So please learn to preserve this atmosphere by having pious thoughts, doing pious things, reading books. Occasionally, like a Diwali, of course, I enjoy the garbha, and we have a feast, we have a simple sweet. But if we live like that, there is no hulla-gulla [hullabaloo], there is no shor machna [noise made], there is no unnecessary bheed [crowd], there is so much space where you can sit comfortably, relax, read, write your diary.
“Do you write your diary?” “Ab shuru karenge hum. [I am going to start now.]” Standard answer! “Aap kubse abhyasi hain?” “Chauhattar se.” “Abhi tak nahin likha?” “Nahin, Babuji Maharaj ne kahaa thaa ki diary likha karo.” “Toh nahin kiya?” “Nahin, voh dekhiye, aise hi ho jaata hai kabhi kabhi.” [“Since when are you an abhyasi?” “Since ’84.” “You have not written until now?” “No, no. Babuji Maharaj had told me to maintain a diary.” “And you did not?” “No, you see, this sort of thing happens sometimes…”] Why should we allow such things to happen? We should be awake before the bell rings and look at the watch and say, “He is late by two minutes.” Isn’t it?
Ashram life is to give you clean living, peace of mind, health, spiritual development and minimum food—not maximum. Pate bharne ke liye nahin aate hain. [We do not come here to fill our stomachs.] I heard from Babuji that when he used to go to Lalaji Maharaj in Fatehgarh, he ate one roti at lunch and never had dinner. I said, “In those days, you were young. Why did you eat just one roti a day, and you wouldn’t eat at night?” He said, “See, Lalaji Sahib was not a rich man. He could not afford. So out of respect for my guru, I did not want to waste his money.” That should be our attitude, you see. Out of respect for the guru who provides so much, we should not waste water, we should not waste food, we should not waste our time, most important, because that too, God gives.
Babuji said, “Janam maran toh Ishwar ke haath mein hai. [Life and death are in the hands of God.]” Nobody knows when the next change will come; nobody knows when the next man will die. You understand? Time is the most important. And to be able to use time, we must be alive. Therefore khuraak paani [food and water] are most important. And to stay alive you must also be healthy, so nahaan dhona [washing and bathing] is important. But all the resources must be carefully used. Not a drop of water extra, not an ounce of food extra. If you, each one of you, do this, we will cut our expenses in half. I won’t need donations. Why do we need more and more money? Because Babuji said, “We have wants, whereas God provides for our needs.” I need a sari to cover my nakedness, but I want a silk sari! I want an earring, it can be of peetal [brass], but I want a solitaire, one carat! “How much?” “Two or three lakhs.” And when we give donations, it comes to two or three rupees. “Sahib, only you have given us these five rupees!”
Everyone of you touch your heart. Because I have heard people talking in Shahjahanpur, “Brother, we get dry roti and weak tea here. Why should we give donations?”—in the presence of Babuji. Babuji was looking that way. And Babuji heard it, and later said to me, “Parthasarathi, see how shameless some people are.” I said, “Why do you say they are shameless?” He said, “They eat for free, and yet they complain.” If you pay for the food, you can say there is no sugar in this, the tea is not good, there is no milk in it. In this lies the secret of free service. If I were to take even one paise from you for a sitting, I become your servant. “You take money, don’t you? Do it properly!” Like people treat rickshaw-pullers in Kolkata. Six people, eight people [climb on the rickshaw], use abusive language and say, “We give him money, don’t we? Go!” The moment you take money for anything, you are a slave, whether it is a crore of rupees for a consultancy, whether it is five rupees for a minor surgery, anything. That is the secret of free service. Babuji said, “We serve, but without servility.” Hum kisi ke naukar nahin hain. [We are not anybody’s servant.] Not as preceptors, nobody. Why? Because we offer what we have, free.
So remember that free service is the best service, because some preceptors in the past have brought bad name to the Mission by demanding money from abhyasis, by demanding so many other favours. It brings bad name to the Master. Anything we do wrong reflects on the Master. Even our sickness reflects on the guru. So we must be very careful in the way we live. Balance your life; no exaggeration, no excesses in anything. Use resources that God gives you wisely. Use them to your evolutionary purpose and all will be well. May Master bless you on your Nutan Varsha [New Year]. Thank you.