Driving force behind service: The noise of ego boosting applause or the silence of ego busting selflessness?!

In the golden olden days, in a hermitage, lived a Guru with a few of his disciples. While he was imparting the spiritual education to these handful of disciples, he planned to set up a bigger Gurukul with the intent of spreading his knowledge to many more students in need. One fine day, he expressed this desire to his disciples and decided to train them for setting up the Gurukul and percolate the knowledge.  In the process, he identified a bright, humble and sincere disciple of his who seemed capable to additionally support the other bunch of disciples and monitor the plethora of activities that finally led to the setup of a full-fledged Gurukul.

Gradually, newer disciples started filling in and the Guru spent a lot of his time on training the identified disciple to handhold the new entrants and manage the other activities of the Gurukul. As time passed by, eventually, the Guru realized that his disciple was ready for bigger things and bestowed upon him the responsibility of the maintenance and management of Gurukul. The Guru also sang his disciple’s praises for his simplicity and humility in spite of the proud abilities and accomplishments.


The disciple gracefully took charge of the holy responsibility and began taking care of the needs of the Gurukul and the resident disciples. As few days passed, while the disciple was enjoying all the attention and respect his work gave him, it slowly started getting into his head. He began getting attached to the feeling of significance and indispensability, which slowly began feeding his ego in the form of arrogance  and vanity. This obliviously led to losing his sense of intent and he perceived his Guru as a competition rather than as a guide. Now, he somehow wanted to surpass the Guru by turning the disciples against him.

 While these vested thoughts were running wildly in his mind, a highly learned saint visited the Gurukul for a casual meet with the Guru. The Guru gracefully introduced the saint to his disciple. Within a few exchange of words and pleasantries, the disciple admired the saint for his level of wisdom and learned that his spiritual accomplishments were immense. The disciple then asked the saint how the feeling was after having accomplished a great deal on the path of service to which the saint smiled and replied,

“My boy, on this path, pride is in getting the privilege of being an instrument of use, even for the smallest of the opportunities. It is never in the biggest of the accomplishments that would command power and authority. It is a feeling of contentment for having spent every breath for a higher cause rather than a feeling of triumph for having spent every thought on self-approval of one’s own greatness. This is the biggest lesson my Master has made me understand all through my long association with him and even today, I indebtedly bow to him for this invaluable learning.”

Though the disciple felt a little perturbed by these words, curiously, he asked, “Can I get to meet this great personality who has turned you into an amazingly learned scholar and still commands such a level of reverence from you?” to which the saint grinned, paused for a while and with a choke in the throat, muttered, “The holy one I am visiting right now, the pious one you have in such proximity is the able and noble one who has crafted hundreds like me!”

 These words flabbergasted the disciple and crushed all his sense of superiority into ashes in no time! He realized what a magnanimous personality he had ignored to recognize, blinded by his own self pride and that he needed his Guru and not the other way round!


The reason I narrated this hypothetical story is to demonstrate the shallowness of ego-feeding that comes in our way on this beautiful journey that is supposed be full of gratitude and surrender. Many a times, the sense of having ‘achieved’ the impossible boosts our false ego and distorts our personality in unwanted ways. We tend to sideline, ignore or even worse, compete with the very mentors who supported and guided us patiently for ages on this ladder of growth. In this whole mental gymnastics, the mind loses sight of its actual purpose of service and the intensity and intention behind every action suffers. But, behold, the battle is not lost yet at this juncture. It is at these times of illusionary blindness that the ‘Master’ comes running with a rescue operation! Being a compassionate savior He is, He intricately weaves the people and situations around in such a way that they serve as an instant eye-opener at the right time and show us our right place!

So, next time an opportunity to serve opens up in front of you, examine whether the true intent behind your action is a feeling of self-esteem or a sense of blessing and awaken yourself to channel the energy towards broader vision of the society instead of warped thoughts of egocentric narrow mindedness!

service quote sri sri

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