Narayana Seva

Narayana Seva

It is said that Nar seva (service to man), is Narayan seva (service to God). A rich landlord was organizing a ‘langar’ i.e. community feeding in a temple. Basically it was meant to be for poor people. They were served rice, dal, vegetables, rotis and last of all, a mango each. Hundreds of people lined up to eat. The landlord had got lots of food prepared by the cooks and was very much at peace with what he was doing.

His son was part of the team that had been given the job of serving the people as they came and sat cross legged on the jute mats laid out on the floor. The son noticed some people who did not look poor, eating amongst the others. He told his father, “Father, look at those three men there in the second row, they seem to be quite well to do. Why don’t you ask them to leave? We are feeding the poor, why should we feed these people?” The father chastened the son saying, “We’re doing our duty. Let them do what they think is right. Our only concern is to do what we think is right. You are not to utter another word on this.”

The son did not like, what his father had said; but he had no option but to serve the men. As the day was getting over, there was a knock on the door of the landlord’s house. He was surprised to find one of the three men pointed out to him by his son, standing in the doorway. He said, “Sir, I am an unemployed person. I am lazy by nature and do not like to work. This morning I said to God, ‘God, if you can get me a good meal today, without having to do any work, I promise I shall start working.’ At noon when I crossed by the temple, I saw that you were offering free food. I had a hearty meal. But I have to fulfill my promise to God. Can you give me some work?” The rich man was much surprised by this declaration and decided to employ the boy straight away.

Next day the landlord went to the temple and was surprised to see the second man holding a ‘poor-feeding’ just as the one he had done yesterday. He went up to the man and asked him, “My friend if I’m not mistaken were you not eating here yesterday? How come you are serving the poor today, please explain, who you are!” The man smiled sheepishly and said, “I have always been one for eating free food wherever I find it. Actually I am a very rich man but I am quite a miser. Yesterday I saw you serving food to the poor; I thought what a shame it was that I have never shared my prosperity with the lesser fortunate. You inspired me to do this!”

The landlord entered the temple. He was startled to see the third man offering prayers to the deity at the temple. He was even more taken aback when this man came up to him and said, “Sir, I am so glad to see you. In fact I was hoping I would be able to meet you and tell you that till yesterday, I was a staunch atheist. A friend of mine said to me, ‘What would you have God do, to make you believe in Him?” I said to him in jest, ‘Well if I get a mango today, free of cost, I shall believe that there is God!’ As a matter of chance I joined the line to eat food here yesterday. When I was given a mango just before leaving, I knew that God had sent me His confirmation. So here I am, thanks to you!”

The rich man shed tears of joy. He said, “Thank God, I didn’t give in to my son. For, if I had rebuked these three men yesterday, they would not be doing what they are today!”

Baba has put it very simply, “Before man decides to lead others and to prescribe for the world, he must learn to have command over himself and his emotions and be at peace with his own inner passions.”