Many people talk about serva. Do they really know what serva is? Cooking some food and giving it to people once in six months - is this serva? Do people only eat once in six months, or is this serva for personal glory? Think about it. You cook some good food. Normally meat is regarded as good food for many of the people who do serva. You distribute this food to people who have not eaten a proper meal for a long time. I say ‘proper meal’ because you may think that I also think meat is good food if I say ‘good food’. You have now brought back a sense of taste that was long forgotten by these people. They enjoy their meal even if it is not tasty because they feel enjoyed. You leave them and go to your homes and comforts, having re-introduced the desire in those people for a certain kind of food. This is your karma and it is bad karma. It adds to your list of karmas.

Now understand what serva is. It is helping people live, not by making them beggars. It is true that we make people beggars. I would like you to do this kind of serva: identify a person who is in total need of help, assist them by finding jobs for their immediate family members and following up with assistance. Many of you like to feed people to identify yourselves. ‘I feed so many people,’ is what you may say. This is self-recognition. Serva is a divine responsibility.

Swami Shankarananda