Gurbani mentions many times to do Guru Sahib’s Seva or Akaal Purakh’s Seva. Countless Gurbani pangtis refer to the benefits of doing Guru Sahib’s Seva, reminding us repeatedly to do Guru Sahib’s Seva. The question is what is Guru Sahib’s Seva, how can we do Guru Sahib’s Seva? Is Guru Sahib’s Seva the physical act of doing Seva such as Chaur Seva? How can we spend 24 hours engrossed in Chaur Seva, how can we spend our entire lives only doing Chaur Seva? As Gurbani tells us to serve the Guru with every breath. So, what does Gurbani mean when it says to serve Guru Sahib?
Guru Sahib has answered this question in Gurbani Himself.
ਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਸੇਵਾ ਕਰਿ ਪਿਰਾ ਜੀਉ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਧਿਆਏ ॥(Ang, 246)
In this Gurbani, Guru Sahib gives us an Updesh (instruction), the line says My dear soul, do Seva of Guru Sahib by engrossing yourself in Naam Simran. This next line makes it clear as well, Seva of Guru Sahib is the act of doing Naam Simran. ਧੁਰ ਕੀ ਸੇਵਾ ਰਾਮੁ ਰਵੀਜੈ ॥ (Ang, 905) This line removes all doubts on what Guru Sahib’s Seva is. Guru Sahib tell us to do the Seva we received from the beginning, from our birth, this is the Seva of Naam Simran, this is True Seva.
The following line Guru Sahib says it in even more simple words, it is as if Guru Sahib knew we would have lingering doubt, Guru Sahib rids us of that doubt in this line:
ਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਸੇਵਾ ਗੁਰ ਭਗਤਿ ਹੈ ਵਿਰਲਾ ਪਾਏ ਕੋਇ ॥1॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ (Ang, 66) Guru Sahib declares in this Shabad that Guru’s Seva is Bhagti! The only Seva of Guru Sahib is Naam Simran. If we do Naam Simran we are doing Seva of Guru Sahib. There is no other Seva of Guru Sahib.
When Gurbani tells us to do Seva of Guru Sahib, it means do Naam Simran. Now of course this does not mean we should not do Seva of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee by doing Chaur or other Sevas. We need to give as much Satkaar possible to Guru Sahib’s physical form, that is our duty.
We as Sikhs have massive role to play. Forget Badals comrades .We as Sikhs must take on the reponsibity for all Sikh children since1984. Don’t forget an don’t forget to help the needy children an women. ShorEly we can all afford one pound each per week in the name of God allmighty
Unfortunately, the above article typically reproduces a common mythical line that ‘naam simran’ is the be all and end all of human life and sikhi. This runs contrary to all the activism which the Guru, Sikh shaheeds and many gursikhs like Bhai Kanaiyha jee, Bhagat Pooran Singh, Mai Bhago Kaur, Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, Baba Deep Singh, Bapu Surat Singh and many more today, are doing for global justice, global good and sarbat da bhalla. Sikhi teaches us, for example, to protect the earth as a supreme mother. Sikh teaches us to fight for women’s rights. The rights of the oppressed. Animal rights. And much more. The passivism of ‘naam simran’ as routinely and frequently propagated, runs not only contrary to gurbani, sikh history, sikh ethics, but is a clear extension and intrusion of Hinduism into Sikhi. “Above all doctrines and thoughts is the truth. Even higher is the living of truth” (Ang 62). As stressed in Japjee, the primary affirmation, “punnee paapee aakhan naahi. kar kar karnaa likh lai jaahu. aapay beej aapay hee khaahu.” Righteous and vice do not come by mere speaking words. Actions which are repeated and sustained, are engraved on the record of the being. You eat what you plant. Sikh history is gurbani in action. Whilst there is a lot of routine and rote parchar about ‘naam simran’, why is there is none about ethical living, good actions, activism? Why this disturbing and stark ommission? Why do the ‘naam simran’ parcharaks, fail to talk about putting food in the mouth of the hungry – the gurus golak, clothing the naked, and so forth. Numerous examples like sacha sodha, Hardwar, the battles of the Gurus, show vividly that the real purpose and effect of ‘naam simran’ – properly embraced and understood, is to inspire and invigorate us into active humans. Not like the Siddhs and such like, who sat in the mountains doing ‘naam simran’ for centuries in exclusivity. Guru Nanak said their practise was wholly narrow, limited and purposeless and, indeed, introverted and selfish. To those Sikhs today who seek to avidly promote ‘naam simran’ as the exclusive way of living, it begs a simple, comprehensive question: Why then do you work to earn income? Why do you engage in public campaigning when a Sikh is arrested, detained or imprisoned? Should Bapu Surat Singh simply do ‘naam simran’ and everything will be fine and ok? Why do you become anxious and panicked when a life problem strikes you individuallly, and you rush about for active intervention? Should you simply do ‘naam simran’ and leave it at that? A response to this fundamental point is invited. This pivotal point differentiates Sikhi from Hinduism and many other such kinds of practises and philosphies which seek to reduce the human spirit to ritualistic, robot chanting. Sikhi promotes and practises the ideal of a ‘saint-soldier’ person (in thought, living and action). And finally, why the need for the dastaar, the kirpaan, the kakaar, the shaheedis, the past and current day struggles for justice; if all that is required is ‘naam’ chanting. Are the giving of langar, fighting for justice, fighting for the planet : all distractions and superfluous actions? And by the way in Jaap Sahib it says the real force of life is ‘anaami’ – nameless! So whose exclusive name are you chanting? Indeed, Japjee Sahib affirms that ‘naam’ is beyond words. It is a state of wholesome consciousness, connection and vision : “jaytaa keetaa taytaa naa-o.” The constructed universe is the manifestation of the name. My ‘naam simran’ is infinitely in doing good, fighting for good and dieing for good – as demonstrated in the lives of Sikh shaheeds like Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, Gurbachan Singh Manochaal and many others like them. “Oh shiva, grant me this great strength to fearlessly pursue justice…when this life comes to an end, may it be in thick of intense action.” Guru Gobind Singh’s immense affirmation!
Wow. Im so taken by your answer. So much passion and understanding.
Agree with all your points.
Just wondering that maybe Naam is the start of the sewa but not the end of it.
Why the start? because the individual needs to act with wisdom which will be the fruit of the japna which will lead to more khoj and more japna on a spiral towards high consciousness.
Then comes the activism and the spiral now drills down to invigorate the body and one can act wisely and willfully (positive) to do wahegurus inspired works.
Unfortunately some start activism using their limited understanding and do more harm becoming rebels without a cause. yes some support human rights animal rights etc but do it in a self- righteous way imposing on others and judging them (speaking in general here).
so naam jap prevents these kinds of problems where people blindly act without inner guidance.
Cant say if theres a right formula that will work for all but I suppose both Naam and sewa in action is to be aimed for, but with a good foundation of Inner connection to wisdom of guru.