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Guru Gobind Singh & The Lesson of Seva - SikhNet.com

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Once upon a time, Guru Gobind Singh taught us all a wonderful lesson about our own hearts. Guru ji was teaching the Sikhs, as he always did, and there happened to be a rich boy there who really wanted to serve the Guru. Of course, Guru ji knew what was in the boy’s heart, and he announced to everyone, “I am thirsty, who will get me water?”

“I will!” The boy exclaimed before anyone else could answer. Then the youth left to get the water. On the way he thought, “I won the chance the get the water. I KNEW I would be able to show who I am. I’m awesome, I’m a winner!” 

Soon enough the boy proudly came back with a glass of water. Guru ji said, “Your hands look soft. What do you do for work?” The boy said, “My parents have a ton of money, so I don’t need to work. Whenever I want something, I ask a servant for it... The servants are well paid... so everyone is happy.” It’s true, his parents spoiled him, they never even had him do chores or even clean his room! He had a very soft and easy life; other people did everything for him. Guru ji asked “You never work?” “True King, you are such an inspiration. You are the first person I’ve even thought of serving! This is the first time I have gotten water for anyone.”

Then Guru ji continued teaching … without drinking the water. Eventually someone asked, “Guru ji, you asked for water, now you are not drinking… aren’t you still thirsty?” “I will not drink this water. It is dirty.” The boy did not understand, “True King, I assure you, this water is not dirty. I cleaned the glass myself, then I put in water directly from the w ell. It is pure!” Guru ji explained, “Your hands have dirtied the water.” The boy was surprised, “Oh don’t worry, I cleaned my hands first. I brought it directly to you. There is nothing that could have dirtied the water, it really is pure!” “My boy, hands are made pure by doing service. Your hands are dirty.”

Then Guru ji spoke to everyone there, “Listen fellow Sikhs. If you do not work or serve others, it is like as if you become filled with dirt. If you are filthy who will want to be near you?  If you do not do service or work, you are as contaminated as a dead body, which no one would touch. Your feet are made pure by going to see your Guru. Your hands are made pure by service. It is our lifestyle to serve the sangat. This is very important!”

These words pierced the boy’s heart. He had always been a good boy, but he realized he wanted to be more than that. He was no longer comfortable just receiving from others. The boy bowed his head... and he made a decision: “From now on I will not just be a taker, I will also give. I won’t just let people serve me like I’m royalty. I will also be a humble servant.”

He also decided to stay with the Sikhs. He started waking up early in the morning, which he had never done before, and he would take a cold shower! He would do his spiritual practice like chanting and reciting Jap Ji. Then he would go to the Guru’s kitchen and serve people food, scrub pots, sweep the floor and clean dishes. He did this every day, and it deeply changed how he was. He was now more connected to himself, and to his family and to his community and to God.

Some time had passed Guru ji again saw him in the sangat. He knowingly smiled, “I am thirsty, who will get me water?” Just like before the boy volunteered right away, “I will bring you water!” As he left, he thought, “I do not deserve this honor, I am so grateful I am able to serve. Waheguru, Waheguru, Waheguru...”

When the boy brought the water, Guru ji looked at his hands, which were rough and stained from work. He could see the boy was more humble. He could also see the water was different than last time. It had the vibration of love and service. This was because the boys heart was shining now. Smiling Guru ji said, “THIS is pure water!” And Guru ji happily drank the water… right then… the boy felt a connection with Guru Gobind Singh he hadn’t felt before and his heart filled with more love than ever.

You see, when we let other people do everything for us, we become spoiled and our hearts don’t shine. Remember, the first Guru, Guru Nanak? Even when he was old, he worked the farm digging the land. No one is too special to do hard, or even dirty, work. Even if you are a child, your work is to do well in school and learn, and your service to others can be taking care of your mom and dad and your family.

So make your soul happy, make your Guru happy, work hard and serve others.  

ਵਿਣੁ ਸੇਵਾ ਧ੍ਰਿਗੁ ਹਥ ਪੈਰ ਹੋਰ ਨਿਹਫਲ ਕਰਣੀ।

ਪੀਰ ਮੁਰੀਦਾਂ ਪਿਰਹੜੀ ਸੁਖ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਸਰਣੀ ॥੧੦॥

“With your head, be humble and bow to the Guru

With your eyes do not look at other people’s things, instead look to your guru

With your ears listen, with focus, to the Guru’s teachings

With your tongue, sing Guru’s songs and chant Guru’s mantra