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The Importance of Seva And Social Justice for Inner Transformation

UNITED STATES, February 19, 2011: (By Anju Bhargava) On one side, emphasis in the Hindu and Dharmic (eastern) traditions appears to be primarily on inner self realization. But we are encouraged to engage in community service as a transformation practice, sadhana, without personal recognition or publicity.

Our underlying Vedic philosophy, often quoted by Mahatma Gandhi is Service to Man is Service to God. It is an inside out approach to living. Our definition of seva is: ‘Service which is given without consideration of anything in return, at the right place and time to one that is qualified, with the feeling that it is one’s duty, is regarded as the nature of goodness.’ — Bhagavad Gita 17.20

It is no wonder then that in America, where community service is institutionalized as a well disciplined field, many wonder, Do Hindus serve the needy? Where is community service through their faith based institutions? What theology guides the Hindus to serve? Our research shows seva is done in many ways by the Hindu Americans, but seems to be ‘hidden’ and under-reported.

To bridge this gap, and augment the existing ongoing seva activities, Hindu American Seva Charities, with the blessings and support of many spiritual leaders, launched a strategic initiative to bring seva to greater prominence. The aim is to encourage all Dharmic institutions and people of all Hindu sampradayas to bring seva to the forefront through ‘UtsavSeva’ (FestivalSeva), which invokes the spiritual values of our many festivals that are celebrated through out the year in every part of the world where Hindus live.

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