Chapter I

Spiritual Discipline – Physical Service

Cheerfully carrying out the orders of elders and rendering them physical help for their comfort and convenience is one phase of service. Another phase of it is rendering loving help to the poor and the needy. The reward of selfless service is great indeed.

The saying goes:

Render service and reap the fruit thereof.

Human beings can even become Saints and Swamis through service. If we render service with an ulterior motive or with pride and arrogance, we are deprived of its real reward. But if we perform service without any desire for reward we can attain great heights. It is said that the performance of service is one of the methods by which we can achieve glory in the eyes of God.

Bhai Gurdas has gone so far as to say that our hands and feet are useless if they perform no service.

And Guru Nanak has stated that a person engaged in selfless service is always highly esteemed in the society of men as well as in the eyes of God.

Those who render no service to mankind cannot hope to achieve anything in this world or hereafter. One who does not serve his fellow beings is worthless.

According to the Guru Granth Sahib, there are four kinds of service:

  1. Physical or manual service – that rendered with the body.

  2. Service with wealth.

  3. Service rendered by mind.

  4. Service rendered by soul.


Footnote: Physical and monetary service is easy to perform, and hundreds of people can afford to do so. Mental service is difficult to perform, and there are very few people who are capable of performing it. But service by the soul is much more difficult to perform and rare to achieve.

All these types of service can actually be performed only if carried out in accordance with the instructions of a Master. The mind is rendered pure by service and then becomes worthy of devotion to Him.