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3 types of Seva
Date: Mon May 06 1996 - 17:35:39 PDT

Seva is rendered to Sriman Narayana in ways:

(1) Bhagavat Seva:

This is the type of seva rendered to Bhagavan directly, such as to
Vigrahas or Salagramas in temples or in houses.  For those fortunate
enough to be born during an avatAram, rendering seva to the avatAram
also comes within the category of Bhagavat Seva.

JatAyu and Draupadi are two of the best known examples of devotees
who excelled in this type of Seva.  JatAyu fought with RAvaNa when
all types of living entities including the river Godavari would not
tell RAma who had kidnammped Sita out of fear of RAvaNa.

Draupadi is another example of a very great, though often
unrecognized Bhakta.  When Krishna killed SisupAla, He pretended to
be injured and started bleeding as a result of sending the Sudarshana
chakra at SisupAla.  Seeing this Draupadi ran to Him, tore her own
sAri and tied it around His finger.

Draupadi laughed at Duryodhana for not being able to see the
differnce between land and water inside the palace built by Maya.
Even though the Upanishads say "atithi devo bhava" in this instance
Krishna wanted Duryodhana insulted, since He restrained Yudhishthira
from stopping Draupadi and the other queens from laughing at

Draupadi paid a heavy price for this laughter.  She was insulted in
front of the elders of the Kuru dynasty.  In her previous life she
prayed that she wanted a husband who was very wise, the embodiment of
Dharma, the greatest archer, the strongest human being, the most
handsome and the wisest among men.  Since all these qualities could
not be accommodated in one human being, she got five husbands.  In
her life as Draupadi it was shown to her and the whole world, that in
spite of having 5 husbands possessing these qualities they were
powerless to help her when she needed their protection from being
stripped and raped.  She finally had to turn to the only person who
could help her and everybody else.  Lord Krishna responded instantly,
but only after she gave up attempting to stop DushAsana from pulling
her sAri with her feeble hands.

As if this insult were not enough, she had to spend the next 12 years
in a forest.  While in the forest Jayadhrata attempted to rape her.
She had to spend the 13th year as a maid to a queen.  This shows the
fate of the person who was the empress of the whole world only 13
years before]

Right after that came the war in which she lost her father, brother
and all her 5 children.

While Gandhari is praised for her devotion to her husband, she
supported two people who were spiritually blind, her husband and her
eldest son.  When she lost all her 100 sons because of their adharma,
she cursed Krishna that His kula should meet a similar end.  However
even though Draupadi was repeatedly met with material misfortune, her
devotion to Krishna never wavered.  Never once did she think of
cursing Him for subjecting her to such a life, but instead remained
attached to Krishna all her life and was the first to reach Sri
Vaikuntha after that life, among all the Pandavas.

(2) BhAgavata Seva or service to a devotee of the Lord.
An episode posted by Sri Dileepan about the life of the 43rd Jeer of
Sri Ahobila Mutt, in which the Jeer in His PoorvAshrama called in a
person asleep on his patio, gave him a sumptuous meal and then did
Pradakshina to the guest and presented him with a silver coin, is one
of the best examples of BhAgavata Seva or service to a devotee of the

BhAgavata Seva is considered so important, that one may forego
service to Bhagavan if it is not possible for both to be done within
the time frame available.  Pundarika exemplified this by refusing to
interrupt his pressing of his father's feet when Sri Krishna appeared
to him and wanted His divine feet pressed.  This is because by
serving the devotee of the Lord, one automatically serves the Lord as

(3) AchArya Seva:

This is the highest form of service possible among the 3 types of
bhagavat kainkaryam.  Ramanuja visited Tirupati and was continuing on
his pilgrimage when he arrived at a village in which lived two of his
disciples.  One was very rich and the other was very poor.  Ramanuja
and his travelling disciples chose to visit the house of the disciple
who was very poor.  He was not in the house when they arrived, but
since the door was ajar, Ramanuja understood that somebody was in the
house.  When he announced his arrival, a mat was thrown out from the
room, indicating that Ramanuja was welcome but that whoever was in
the house was unable to present themselves.  Ramanuja understood from
this that the lady of the house was so poor that she could not even
cover herself.  He threw in a shawl that he draped Himself with and
the lady came out draped in the shawl.

There was absolutely nothing for her to offer her illustrious guests.
 She went to a local merchant who had been making passes at her for
years and promised to fulfil his lusty desires if she would provide
her with groceries to feed her guests.  The merchant agreed and the
poor couple were able to sumptously feed their Guru and God-brothers.
When Ramanuja left, the lady went to the merchant to fulfil her end
of the bargain, but by merely having provided the grain that was
eaten by Ramanuja, the merchant was now purified and he fell at the
feet of the chaste lady and begged forgiveness.

AchArya Seva is considered to be highest of the 3 kinds of seva
because it includes Bhagavat Seva (since Bhagavan being the antaryAmi
is the recipient of the seva, BhAgavata seva, since the AchArya is
also a great BhAgavata as well as AchArya seva, since only our Guru
can be our Guru.

Postings in the net consistent with the views of our Poorvacharyas is
an example of BhAgavata Seva while, Sri Dileepan, Sri Sampath, Sri
Murali and Sri Sadagopan's support to Sri Ahobila Muth's causes is an
example of AchArya seva.

Srimate Srivan Shathakopa Sri Vedanta Desika Yateendra Mahadesikaaya
thiruvadigale saranam.

Srimate Sri Lakshmi Nrsimha Divya Paduka Sevaka srivan Shathakopa Sri
Narayana Yateendra MahaDesikaaya thiruvadigale Saranam.

While the above examples may