Our Duty to Society – 2

Once some of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa’s disciples were talking about helping the poor, showing compassion to them and so on. Sri Ramakrishna came there in a God-intoxicated mood and admonished them saying, “Who are you to show compassion to them? Who are you to help them? They are the living manifestations of Narayana himself. So you can only serve them”.

True Service

The great men of our land have always upheld the spirit of service as the highest expression of devotion to God. One such great soul has prayed to Almighty-

न त्वहं कामये राज्यं न स्वर्गं नापुनर्भवम् ।
कामये दुःखतप्तानां प्राणिनामार्तिनाशनम् ।।

(I desire neither kingdom nor heaven nor salvation. All that I desire is to remove the sorrows and miseries of living beings.)

This is the true spirit of service. The constant prayer of such a person is for greater strength and capacity to serve. His fulfillment in life is that he has offered in service all that God has bestowed upon him. He says, “Oh, God! I have emptied the jholi (bag) of my life at Thy feet, and therein lies the fullness of my life”.

Swami Vivekananda used to say, “Be ready to bear everything for the sake of the people like the great Guru Govind Singh. After having shed his blood and the blood of his nearest and dearest, he retired from the field calmly to die in the South but not a word of curse escaped his lips against those who had ungratefully forsaken him!

Such is the true servant of society who seeks not anything in return for himself but finds the joy of fulfillment in having suffered and sacrificed for the good of society.

The spirit of humility and service need not make us loose our self-reliance and self-confidence. All our great men have been an embodiment of the blend of the two virtues. In fact, the two qualities are like the two faces of a coin.

Mahadev Govind Ranade, a scholar of great note in Maharashtra was a destitute in his early life. In his school days he would go to Madhukari (receiving food from a few homes) which was then considered honourable. He would sit in temples under an oil lamp and study. Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar, one of our greatest educationists from Bengal, was also very poor. It was monetarily hard enough for him even to complete Matriculation. Then he took up a job and out of his meagre earnings continued his college studies. Self-reliance was the watchword that made these stalwarts rise to such heights of scholarship.

But what do we see all around us today? Do we find such self-effort and self-reliance in our youth? Take a student, for instance. He does not like to take the trouble of writing notes every day at home. The study of textbooks also has become out of date. He goes in for printed notes, questions and answers and tries to get them by rote. And if he can dispense with that also, so much the better. For that purpose, he moves about to see if he can get at the examination questions beforehand and sometimes does not hesitate even to copy from others in the examination hall. Or else, he takes some rounds of the Hanuman shrine! But he never pauses to think that he has to put in personal efforts to learn, to acquire knowledge. Naturally, he remains the same dunce that he was even after passing the examination.

Note: The above are excerpts taken from Sri M. S. Golwalkar’s Bunch of Thoughts.


Who will give the world light? Sacrifice in the past has been the Law, it will be, alas, for ages to come. The earth’s bravest and best will have to sacrifice themselves for the good of many, for the welfare of all. – Swami Vivekananda


Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile. – Albert Einstein


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