A man can be fortunate in many ways. But there is nothing that makes him more fortunate than the opportunity he has of serving others.
When we serve our family we are not conscious of how we help it. We must learn to help people who are not our kin - other families, our village or home town, our nation, indeed all mankind. We have so many problems ourselves, we suffer so many hardships, and we have so many worries and cares. We must not, however, mind serving others in the midst of all our difficulties. We will forget our problems when we are immersed in the work of helping others. There is a saying :"Feed milk to your neighbour's child, your child will be nourished." The Lord will raise us up from our troubles as we do good to others. However, it is not with such considerations of profit that we must try to help people in difficulties. We must not worry about how others will benefit from our work, but consider how we will become naturally pure. Also, we must think of the happiness we will experience by serving our fellow men.
Service should not be confined to mankind but must be extended to the animal kingdom. In the olden days ponds were dug exclusively for cattle and stone pillars were installed here and there for them to scratch themselves. Everyone must feed at least one cow every day with a handful of grass. This is called "go-grasam" and this act is extolled in the sastras, "Grasam" means a mouthful and the English word "grass" is derived from it.
Conducting sacrifices, offering oblations to the fathers and performing sraddha must be regarded as an extension of the service we do in this world to the denizens of other worlds. These rites must be gone through with the intoning of mantras.
There must be many others like us, many groups, who want to be engaged in social work. It should be ideal if the efforts of all were brought together under one body of like-minded members. Care must be taken that associations so formed do not break up; they must be managed honestly with a proper enforcement of discipline. Those who do philanthropic work must be men of courage and enthusiasm who take praise and blame equally.
You ought not to waste your time in eating places displaying appetizing fare nor in establishments where alluring objects are exhibited. Instead, you must spend your time in helping others. You will ask whether it is wrong to spend a little time in gaiety in the midst of life's worries and hardships. I should like to impress on you that the happiness you find in helping others is not to be found in anything else.
Krsna Paramatman was playful, wasn't he? But all his playfulness was an outward phenomenon for inwardly he served others all the time. How sportingly did he save people from trouble and how many were the men who were helped by him. To protect the cowherds the child Krsna lifted up the big Govardhana mountain. And, again, as a little child he danced on the hoods of the dreaded Kalinga(Kaliya) that poisoned the Yamuna. It all seemed play, all the heroic acts he performed to save the people of Gokula. Nobody sported like Krsna but at the same time nobody served mankind like him. It was not worldly service alone that he did. He served mankind by imparting jnana. As a preceptor of Arjuna and Uddhava alike he taught great truths. All this he did with a smile, spreading serenity everywhere. What he did he did with utmost ease. Those who have taken up the work of serving humanity must be inspired by his example.
Among the various incarnations of the Lord, the service rendered to humanity was the greatest in that of Krsna. During the avatara of Rama, Anjaneya appeared as seva (service) personified. We must be inspired by their example [of Krsna and Hanuman] as we work for others; we must be unselfish like them and shun publicity.
We keep aloof from the outside world when we are ritually impure. We must regard any day on which we fail to do any service to others as a day of impurity. Paramesvara is the father of all creatures. By serving our fellow men we serve the Lord. This is the message of Tirumular in his Tirumantiram;
It means: Serving people is worshipping the Lord.
For a general background, please see here