Most people in the society have an understanding that serving mankind is equivalent to serving God. In today’s fast paced lifestyle, seldom do people have time to visit a temple, offer prayers in the morning, render some practical service to God and hence they conclude that rather than investing time in the above, one can please God by serving His creation and humanity. In fact, many blame the spiritual practitioners that chanting and dancing in the temple is simply a waste of time and is not contributing anything practical to the welfare of the society.
Now, this understanding that whether Manava seva and Madhava seva are completely different is to be understood with the right perspective. For e.g., if a man is suffering from cold, one may offer him some warmers to allow him to get rid of his suffering condition. But is this going to completely cure the person? A little higher intelligence will say that we need to identify the cause of the disease and administer a suitable medication. Even though both the above mentioned methods give relief to the patient to some degree, the major difference between the two methods of curing the ailment is knowledge.
Similarly when we see suffering in this world, it’s natural to want to help – to offer some relief to others, but nobody ponders over the cause of the suffering and more tangible solutions to these problems. Often, it is considered that only the poor and unemployed are in need of happiness. But is this true? Then all the rich and employed citizens should be experiencing unending happiness. But contrary to the above statement, we see much discontent and dissatisfaction amongst those who are employed and well-to-do. Hence, this implies that the cause of their suffering is something else.
The only reason pointing to the above miseries is excessive greed among the wealthy and lack of self-control among the needy. Today’s economy is based on disproportionate exploitation of natural resources. Research has revealed that in all the countries where deaths have occurred due to starvation are simply artificially created and the greed to accumulate more wealth is embraced even at the cost of lives of poor citizens.
Srila Prabhupada, the Founder-Acharya of ISKCON in his teachings explains that Mother Nature, under the supervision of the Supreme Lord, has enough resources to feed ten times the size of the current population. With industrialization growing, water is channelized to industrial plants or is flooded with effluents which are noxious and they cause the rivers to dry up. Due to this, the vegetation around the rivers dries up causing an ecological imbalance. Also, it is seen that due to lack of self-control, any amount of help offered to the poor doesn’t yield the desired results. Children from poor back-grounds when given education and means for earning their livelihood are found to fall prey to bad habits due to easy availability of monetary support to buy these intoxicants. Many countries that offer similar monetary help to the needy have found them to spend this money on drugs and other destructive habits.
Unless people have some level of self-control, they will not be able to utilize whatever help is offered to them. So even if well-intentioned welfare is offered, without improving the people, it doesn’t make things better. Lord Krishna explains in the Bhagavad-gita that only by establishing spiritual standards can one get rid of these vices like greed, anger, lust and lack of self-control. It is experienced all over the world that when wealthy people become spiritual minded, they do became charitable, because at a very fundamental level, they understand that ‘I am going to continue to live after death’, ‘I will not die with my body’, ‘Wealth I’ve attained is not going to stay with me after my body’s death’ and hence they develop a good sense that if I give my wealth for some good cause, the credit which I get, will benefit me in my LIFE AFTER DEATH. By introducing spiritual values in a person, one can see a drastic change in the consciousness and one recognizes what is the true meaning of giving. In fact the greed is gradually replaced by compassion in the heart of the practitioner. It’s the thought of Srila Prabhupada, a great visionary and our beloved spiritual master, that since all living beings are children of God, the whole world should be seen as one family. Since, all living entities are part and parcel of God; I am related to everyone in a spiritual sense.
In conclusion, Madhava Seva is not just an isolated activity ― it is not just chanting some mantras and doing some puja in the temple; it is actually a holistic culture of God-centered living which brings about a transformation in the heart. Engaging in devotional activities in the temple actually purifies the heart and the person undergoes an inner transformation of converting his greed to compassion. Similarly, only by constant practice and perseverance, one can develop self-control and higher human traits. So, the surest process of manava seva is to connect a person to Madhava and that will result in perfect harmony in the entire world.