The word seva is of ancient origin. It does not have an equivalent in English but conveys the sense of service, voluntary or in employment; caring; worship; love and adoration. It also carries a connotation of charity. Thus to bring together the concept of seva one has to look at the ingredients of all these activities, their underlying motivations and place in the social ethics and belief system.
The concept of seva is not unique to any particular faith. In fact all traditions endorse the practice, though understandably there are differences in emphasis and the way it has been practiced. Hinduism commends selfless service, nishkamya seva, without expectation of reward. Giving to Brahmins and the poor has been considered an act of charity. Christian thought considers charity to be a divinely infused habit, inclining human will to cherish God and man for the sake of God – love God and love thy neighbor – teaches the Bible [Luke 15]. The precedence for the choice of recipient seems to be self, wife, children, parents, brothers and sisters, friends, domestics, neighbours, fellow-countrymen, and then others. Judaic charity was broadly national in its origin; the Torah however calls to care for ‘the alien and the stranger in your land.’ In Islam the act of giving is greatly stressed though in practice it seems to have been extended to the co religionists.
To explore the various facets of the concept of seva in Sikh thought, we will look at the usage of the related terms as it emerges from the scriptural literature and also look at the praxis as evidenced by Sikh living today and in history.
SEVA IN SIKH THOUGHT
Broadly the word seva has been used in the Sikh scriptures for serving or being obedient and subservient in secular sense and serve the needy and the sangat as well as to revere, love, and worship the divine as a part of one’s spiritual quest. We hope to find that as a whole life faith, Sikh thought would have an integrated concept of seva, where both the social ethic and moral imperatives come together to encourage and reinforce devotee’s instincts for service and altruism.
Guru Nanak commended the triad of nam, dan and ishnan – nam, charity and inner purity [also external cleanliness] which continue to serve as a concise definition of Sikh ethos. McLeod says ‘one achieves [freedom from cycle of transmigration] primarily through the practice of nam simran or meditation on the divine Name, though it is also assisted by alms-giving [dan] and necessarily involves pure living [isnan].’ All three precepts in thought as well in praxis underpin the concept of seva though dan would seem more intimately and directly connected to it. Sikhs are persuaded to surrender themselves to the Guru totally, body, mind and materials – tan, man, dhan –and live per Guru’s teachings to achieve union with the Divine. All the three forms of devotion are important in this quest or seva.
At the level of popular understanding Sikh ethos is summed up in three guiding injunctions – nam japna, kirt karni, vand chhakna – reciting nam, earning by hard, honest work and sharing what one earns, eats or has. According to W. Owen Cole, ‘Kirat is central to the Sikh concept of seva or self-abnegating deeds of service. In seva no task is considered inferior or degrading; in fact the humbler the task the more honorable it is considered for the Sikh engaged in seva.’ Regarding interlinking of the three injunctions he says that ‘kirat karni is on the one hand associated with and conditioned by nam japna —— [and] on the other, kirat, sanctified by nam, must fulfil the mandatory injunction of vand chhakna.’ Thus all the three injunctions guiding the way a Sikh should live his life are intrinsically embedded in the concept of serving and sharing.
Another mnemonic expression, going back to the Guru’s time, summing up Sikh ideals is deg, tegh, fateh. Later Sikhs also adopted these three words for inscription on their seals and coins when they succeeded in establishing suzerainity over parts of North India in the early eighteenth century. The word deg carries the connotation of general benevolence, tegh of protecting the good from evil and fateh of victory in this righteous endeavor. This twin concept of charity and valor is also inherent in the Sikh ideal of sant sipahi or saint soldier – both characteristics leading to the objectives served by seva.
At another level, the supplication for sarbat ka bhala in the concluding line of ardas gives expression to the Sikhs prayer that their day should be filled with deeds to secure the well being of all. This also flows from the Sikh belief that God is an epitome of both being the master and sevak and that – vidya veecharee ta parupkari – the end of spiritual learning is to be of service and do well to others.
In Sikh thought charityand seva both help the devotee to grow spiritually even as he tries to promote betterment of others. Seva and altruism must be an expression of love, not of pity or reciprocity for as the Guru says ‘one who is good if good is done unto him and not otherwise, does not love but only trades in love.’ Make your supplication in ever so many ways to the divine that such love is for the low of the lowest – all, not limited to the like-minded or co religionists or in return.
MOTIVATION FOR SEVA
The urge for seva is universal and is not restricted to humans. Gurbani says that all the beings are continuously engaged in God’s service and even as all of them belong to that one Creator, none can earn any merit without seva. The motivation for seva therefore is inherent in consciousness, susceptible to being cultivated or suppressed.
At the level of humans, even though the instinct for seva may be intrinsic, for most the spirit finds expression in hard toil and work in worldly pursuits. Such effort is necessary but is not commended absent concurrent purity of conduct and spiritual growth of the individual. Guru Tegh Bahadur laments ‘to who shall I speak of the condition of man’s mind? Lured by greed, hoping to gain wealth, he runs in all directions. For securing his comfort he endures pain and waits on every one, like a dog wandering from door to door, not ever thinking of meditating on God [who has given all that we have].’ In a similar strain flows the thought that those who abandon seva of the One who supports all and serve the illusory material world – maya – are engaged in vain deeds and live an egoistic life. Such people are perverse and blind. The Guru also questions as to how can one hope to achieve a place in the Divine realm if he keeps serving sundry worldly bosses.
The motivation for seva should therefore inspire one to serve God for blessed is the sevak whose love for God endures to the end – he serves God in life and enshrines His love in his heart while departing — Such a sevak is blessed and fruitful is his coming for he will realise the Lord. With such lofty possibility motivation to engage in seva is really a divine gift and comes to those who are so destined. Gurbani refers to – har seva – seva of God, seva of Guru and seva of people. We will now briefly look at each to grasp their import and inter connectedness.
Sikh persuasion is to serve, love, adore, believe in, worship one God, referred frequently in Gurbani as har, and not any other. Dedicated and single-minded seva of har is sure to take the Guru oriented devotee to Hari’s lotus feet. The experience of living a life of service to God is unique. The sense of tranquility and peace that descends on such people is way more sublime than the elation that may be induced in a king by his feeling of unfettered power and authority.
The motivation to do seva comes to those who receive the grace of har and their sins are forgiven. They receive God’s beneficence and their desires for the four padarath – traditionally thought to be the four desired outcomes of human action viz kama [life’s pleasures], artha [economic well being], dharma [duty toward virtuous values] and moksha [liberation] – are satisfied. Those that serve the Lord are absorbed into His being and attain freedom from the cycle of birth and death and become abiding as the Supreme Transcendent God is abiding.
The way to perform God’s seva is severally described in the Granth and I will pick on one composition by Guru Arjan:
In various ways render thy service to God. Place your life, soul and wealth before Him. Forsake your ego, carry water, wave the fan and demonstrate your love to be a sacrifice to Him. O my mother happy is the wife who is pleasing to her Lord – I seek her company and will ever be the water carrier for maids of her handmaids and cherish dust of their feet. I will get her society if I am so destined and when it pleases Him get to meet my Swami to whom I will surrender all my meditation, austerities and rituals and offer what merit my dharmic deeds and my respectful devotion may have. I have renounced all false pride and attachment and become dust of feet of those in whose company my eyes may catch a glimpse of my Lord. I thus ponder over my Lord every moment and this is expression of my service unto Him.
Total surrender, forsaking of ego, deep sense of humility, abiding unquestioning love with nothing, physical, mental or material held back defines the way.
The Granth is replete with references to the Guru-Sikh relation. Guru dispels darkness and shows the way. The Sikh in return has to be commited to the teaching of the Guru. This relationship of submission to the Guru’s teachings is the essence of Guru seva and without thus imbibing the Guru’s word the Sikh cannot find the path of true devotion to the Divine. Consummation of such a relationship and the opportunity to perform seva comes only through Divine grace.
For Guru seva one must reach a state of total submission, and give up all thoughts of self-conceit. Once conceit is subsumed and one accepts the guiding will of the Guru his toil and seva will yield nam to well up within his consciousness. For indeed real seva of the Guru is to ponder over and internalise the sabad.
Seva of the Guru brings tremendous benefits. It purifies one’s conscious, brings inner peace and removes the veil of darkness of ignorance.  One gets an understanding not only of all the three regions in the universe i.e. the totality of world external to the man but one is also able to grasp his inner self through seva of the Guru. It is only by serving the True Guru that liberation is obtained.
Service of humanity, especially the poor and the needy, is most meritorious and the Guru persuades this service to be performed, not just by giving money, but by doing it personally, with one’s own physical effort and inner devotion, with the songs in loving praise of God on one’s lips. The emphasis is on seva through one’s own personal effort be it physical or intellectual. Such service must be done without any expectation of merit; reward or recognition and it should be offered with a deep sense of humility. If motivated by ego one cannot perform seva. It is a futile effort – mere wasting away of the precious God given gift of body and mind. Jan seva is the path to liberation and Nanak prays for God’s merciful blessing to be put on this path.
INSTITUTIONALISING OF SEVA IN SIKHISM
Sikh seva is a part of the devotee’s spiritual quest. It is an expression of a Sikh’s recognition that he can only offer seva to God in return for all that one receives through His benevolence. With its position as part of core beliefs institutionalization of seva practices is needed to encourage and facilitate motivation for seva to blend the belief gently with the way of life. This institutionalization started in the time of Guru Nanak himself.
There are several anecdotes about Nanak’s personal inner compelling urge for helping the needy. As a young lad in his teens his father gave him some money to go out and conduct business. On returning home when asked about the business transacted and profit made, young Nanak said that having met a group of pious people who were hungry, he used up the money to feed them. The father was distraught and admonished him that one should make deals that are profitable. Nanak replied that this was indeed a profitable deal – sacha sauda – that will yield gain in the court of the Lord. The episode so often narrated to the young by the parents underscores the importance of seva and parupkar in family values.
In his later years Nanak settled down at a place that came to be known as Kartarpur, and set up a dharamsal where the devotees used to gather every evening to sing God’s praises and share a community meal. The community grew and the dharamsal, over time, became the center where prayer and seva moved in tandem. Characteristic features of dharamsal from the beginning included providing shelter and food for the needy and wayfarers by the Guru and the congregation. This led to the institutions of community kitchen – langar – and providing living facilities – serai – for all who may come to become a part of the dharamsals. Over time to the institutions of community of believers – sangat – and langar was added the practice of all sitting together in rows – pangat – to partake of the food. This triad became a great instrument for ‘fostering the spirit of equality, brotherhood and fraternization and in developing unrestricted commensalisms among its members.’
Water tanks and wells were traditionally made a part of Gurdwaras so that devotees could bathe before joining the worship service. Simple food freshly cooked and served in metal or leaf plates was the routine in langars. In smaller communities the clergy would even go round and collect cooked food donations every day from the neighboring parishioners to distribute in the Gurdwara. If land were available the Gurdwaras would grow vegetables and grain for their use too.
Langar seva has grown and it is typically served to visitors round the clock in major Gurdwaras. Many have shared this experience and I may relate here the comments of some who participated in the Parliament of World Religions at Barcelona in 2004 where the Sikhs had provided the langar seva for the full five-day duration of the Parliament. I recall a number of participants walking up to me in the lobbies of a major conference in Istanbul in October of that year to talk to me about their Barcelona experience and how they had enjoyed the langar so congenialy offered by Sikhs to one and all.
The serai seva tradition also started at Kartarpur has abided and grown. If you visit any of the larger Gurdwaras during your travels you will find living facilities for visitors at all of them. Places like the Golden Temple at Amritsar have accommodation for thousands. Go there or to Bangla Sahib at Delhi and you would find people of all persuasions availing of this facility. Nankana Sahib and Panja Sahib now in Pakistan have accommodations for more than 2000 to stay. Room to stay can invariably be found at a Gurdwara and web sites are being set up to have the information available readily and possibly even book it in advance in some places. I noticed a notification by the Gurdwara in Amsterdam that only those who have a valid visa for entry into Netherlands can use the serai facility.
Here again I may share an experience that Heidi Hadsell, President of Hartford Seminary, related to me. Quarter of a century or so earlier when Heidi had finished her graduate school she decided to go to East Africa for six months of her fieldwork. At that time, she says, there were hardly any moderately priced places to stay and she could not afford the expensive hotels. So she went round and sought suggestions on what to do. She was told to try the Gurdwaras and she did, ending up spending her six months in that part of the world living in the accommodations attached to nearby Gurdwaras.
Inspiration by the Gurus
Lives of all Gurus are a variegated saga of seva. The legend also has it that Gurus Angad, Amardas and Ramdas, the second, third and fourth in succession to Nanak all displayed exemplary qualities of seva, possibly a decisive factor in their elevation to Guruship. It is recorded for example that Amar Das used to rise early and hours before daybreak fetch water for Guru Angad to bathe. During the day he worked in the langar helping with cooking, serving, cleaning, and going out to the nearby forest to collect firewood. Guru Angad attended to the sick as a routine every morning. Guru Har Krishan, when just eight years old, contracted small pox tending to the sick in Delhi and died.
The Gurus also preached for the Sikhs to live a life of seva. Apart from multiple cites in the Granth, there are recordings of Gurus exhorting Sikhs to perform seva. To quote one, Bhai Mani Singh has recorded Guru Ram Das telling Bhai Puro to ‘learn to serve others — for as you serve His men, so will He serve your souls.’ Sikhs took to the ideal of seva with zeal and in various ways. I will relate one example.
There is this story of Bhai Kanhaiya going back to 1705 when the Mughal forces invested the Sikhs at Anand Pur frequently. After a day of skirmishes as the weary sun is going down in the lengthening shadows of a hot summer evening, old Kanhaiya could be seen ministering sips of water and tending the wounded of both sides. Envision the same scene another day when the wounded lay in the midst of fallen leaves or fields wet with rain. The Sikhs upset, ask Guru Gobind Singh to stop Kanhaiya from comforting the enemy. The Guru says let’s call him and ask him. Brought before the Guru, he humbly says – Satguru you pervade all; when I go tending the wounded and I look at them I see your image in each of them. Such was the example that followers of Bhai Kanaihya known as seva panthis follow as they offer seva in various places especially in disaster situations. They emphasize the moral tenet of seva and believe that a lover of God should imbibe God’s attributes and serve all as God does without any distinction or favor.
Daswandh – Sikh Tithes
There is a Sikh custom similar to tithes [10%] and zakat [2 ½%] called daswandh. It can best be understood as an injunction on giving for community’s welfare initially conceived by Guru Amar Das; later enjoined by Guru Ram Das to be 10% of a Sikh’s income, to be sent to the Guru. The Gurus used these offerings for supporting the langar, serai and for providing other services for benefit of the people. Thus in addition to seva by individuals at their own level and of their own volition, the Gurus gave impetus to collective seva by the community in tasks such as building new communities, constructing wells and ponds, and later as the circumstances demanded even organizing for safety and security of the people from corrupt and oppressive officials and for protecting their basic freedoms and rights. The offering could be made in cash or kind and it was customary for the devotees to bring a portion of freshly harvested food grains or other gifts to the Gurus. Even today it is not uncommon to observe many devotees bringing cooked food, sweets and snacks to the Gurdwara for serving to the congregation or others visiting. A recent offering of gold palanquin to the Gurdwara Janam Asthan at Nanakana Sahib generated a lot of internal Sikh reflection and also attracted wide media attention.
Another institutionalized feature of Sikh seva is termed karseva. This is the collective and voluntary effort put in by the community in major maintenance works, reconstruction or making additions/alterations to the Gurdwaras or other heritage sites. Drawing inspiration from the way the effort was organized by the Gurus in setting up new communities and in building the Dharamsals, tradition of this seva being organized by sant babas started and continues to be in practice to this day.
Sikhs have always considered it seva to build Gurdwaras. It is significant that when Sikh misals got control over the Delhi Sultanate in late eighteenth century, motivation driving their campaign was to be able to construct Gurdwaras to commemorate visits by Gurus. That assured they gladly turned the control back to the decaying Mughal rulers. Later the founding of Sikh rule gave a fillip to construction of some very impressive buildings and presentation of expensive and rare gifts to the Gurdwaras by the Princely families and the rich landed gentry. This tradition saw a mini revival recently when Delhi Sikhs presented a golden palanquin – palki – to Gurdwara at Nanakana Sahib. The event attracted a lot of media attention and generated considerable internal debate among Sikhs about propriety of expensive gifts when so many deserving causes cannot be served for lack of resources.
Yet another tradition was the setting up of taksals; institutions similar to seminaries some of which have made commendable contribution to help the poor or disabled. Mention may be made of Dodhurpur Taksaal which was set up in the eighteenth century and has been training the visually handicapped in kirtan– possibly a unique egalitarian step for those days and during a very troubling period in Sikh history.
In late nineteenth century with the spread of education, Sikhs started establishing schools and colleges for education of men and women. There is a number of these in areas of Sikh concentration, generally named Khalsa schools/colleges; some attached to or built on Gurdwara lands. More recently homes for the disabled and destitute, hospitals and other service facilities have also been developed through Sikh philanthropy; several of these attached to Gurdwaras.
Safety & Security
No account of Sikh seva would be complete without mentioning the sacrifices made by them to secure the safety, security and freedoms of the people. The ultimate sacrifice of Guru Tegh Bahadur to protect the right of Hindus to practise their religion is possibly the only one of its kind in religious history. Sikhs continued to be inspired by the ideals of saint soldier and always plunged in to support the cause of freedom and justice without consideration of their sectarian gain or safety. Even in the run up to Indian struggle for freedom from the British rule, of the persons who were deported to life in prison or went to gallows, a good 80 to 90 % were Sikhs. Gurdwara Reform Movement of the 1920’s was the first totally non-violent movement against the British that succeeded though not without major loss of Sikh lives and limbs. Even during the abrogation of constitution and imposition of emergency by Indira Gandhi, only Sikhs continued with their protest morchas till the constitution was restored. The accounts of spontaneous support and seva of the troops in the 1965 and 1971 operations by the Sikhs stands out as a shinig example of civilian contribution to war effort in the Indian military history.
Drawing inspiration from the teachings and exhortations of the Gurus, several guidelines for the Sikh code of conduct were written after the passing of the tenth Guru. The current Sikh Code of Conduct & Conventions – sikh rehat maryada [SRM] – was promulgated in 1945 by the central Sikh Gurdwara management body – SGPC – and enjoins that a Sikh’s personal life should comprehend:
- Meditation on nam and Sikh scriptures
- Live life per Guru’s teachings
- Perform altruistic voluntary service
SRM emphasizes that seva is an important part of Sikh religious practice and encourages its illustrative models like sweeping floors, dusting shoes and serving in the langar to be organized, for imparting training, in the Gurdwaras. It also reminds Sikhs that their life should be a life of benelovent exertion and that optimal results with minimal endeavor are achieved by collective effort. [p. 33] The code also enjoins on the Sikhs to pay daswandh to the Guru [p.38/4].
In more recent times a growing number of Sikh volunteer organizations have come up and some of these have been very active in bringing relief and succour to the victims of man made and natural disasters. SGPC and Sikh volunteer groups have been very active in the aftermath of Gujrat earthquake in bringing relief supplies, setting up community kitchens, medical aid, transportation services and so on. Likewise after tsunami Sikh volunteer groups have been providing relief in Tamilnadu as well as in Indonesia. They have also been active in relief work in New Orleans post Katrina and in Pakistan after the recent earthquake. Even as I write this paper there is news that a Sikh volunteer working with Christians for Peace, Harmeet Singh Soodan is among the recent hostages taken in Iraq and we had a collection drive at the Gurdwara just last Sunday for building shelters for Pakistan quake victims.
PROBLEMS & LIMITATIONS
As we have seen institutionalization of seva among Sikhs centered around the dharamsal which in the time of Gurus served not only as places of worship but also as a vehicle for community building and channelising their altruism. All offerings and daswandh came to the Gurus who used the resources for altruistic purposes. Considering the state of societal development at the time, these practices were highly egalitarian and served the pressing needs of people without any distinction or discrimination. The traditions developed also integrated seva into the Sikh way of life.
Over the centuries Sikh giving advisedly directed through the Guru has continued to channel most of their offerings to the Gurdwaras. Experience however seems to suggest that the Gurdwara institution has not been able to deliver upon the promise of dharamsal underpinning the integrated concept of seva inherent in the Guru’s teachings and praxis. Whereas the Gurus displayed deep sensitivity for continuing as well as emerging needs, in more recent times most of the funds have begun to be used up to pay those providing liturgical services and langar; with bulk of capital expense being incurred on constructing ostentatious Gurdwaras to the neglect of emerging problems and needs. We will briefly look at these issues to grasp their import.
Professional ragis and kathakars do fulfill a need but more recently they seem to have become a strong vested interest and are constantly on the move offering their fare to the congregations globally. At another plane there is mushroom growth of ashrams and deras offering their version of Sikhi. Without going into the complexity of issues surrounding this development, it can be said that an increasing share of giving by the laity is going to support these activities.
The character of langar has also changed. Starting as a symbol of social equality, sharing and feeding the needy it seems to be becoming more of a signature Sikh practice. Shared mainly by the congregants it is aquiring the character of an elaborate fellowship meal in place of its egalitarian social and altruistic purpose. So even as its associated costs have soared, the seva impact has more likely declined. As a ritual extension of the worship service it also has been the subject of some controversy regarding food served and how it is served. For example serving sandwiches or pizzas, instead of the traditional fare, is resisted. Likewise there is conflicted opinion on whether the food could be served at tables instead of squatting on the floor, as per the traditional practice.
The elaborate building structures do look good when new but generally suffer from lack of maintenance and in any case mostly the total décor may not go with the outward glitz and expensive building materials used. There is a shared apprehension that the kar seva Babas have failed to preserve the heritage value in most of the reconstruction projects and unsubstantiated charges have also been made that funds collected for some projects have been diverted to benefit politicians.
Some of these issues could be traced to structural problems. Post Gurdwara Reform Movement in early 1920’s Gurdwaras are now managed by Committees elected by the congregants – generally for a short term of one year. Apart from introducing several distortions and unhealthy practices associated with the electoral process, the Committees tend to be focused on the short term and invariably try to maintain their stranglehold in leadership roles by encouraging an inward looking outlook where the above three come together in a shared nexus.
Another comment that may reflect on the practice of offerings in kind is that there seems indeed to be a paucity of presents like the Palki being made. If at all most of Gurdwaras, historical ones included, have hardly any great collection of artefacts compared to their equivalents in other faith traditions. An inventory of such assets and their evaluation may bring out that most of the Gurdwaras do not have any corpus worth the name.
The net result is that while Sikh giving through the Gurdwaras would seem to have lost its anchor in the values so passionately advocated by the Gurus, the religious leadership and the community does not seem to have felt the need to articulate a vision of seva to relate to the changing societal needs. This impression is also supported by scant coverage of the subject in the SRM notwithstanding listing it as one of the three most important facets of a Sikh’s life. No less glaring is the apathetic absence of any scholarly work on the subject.
Thankfully though the picture is changing. The SGPC has of late been more visible in reaching out in disaster situations to provide succour to the victims and thus has begun broadening the range of seva. Several NGOs are also coming up though most of them, given the dynamics of intra-community communication in Sikhs, end up seeking support of Gurdwaras to make their pitch to raise funds and to generate some level of community interest and support.
One would also hope that the study on Sikh philanthropy recently commenced by Verne Dusenbery provides some fresh insights; documents its growth and change and also induces further scholarly interest in the subject that may catalyse greater introspection by the community.
Sikh spirit is a living spirit of seva. Their response is spontaneous and overwhelming to any cause. The most vivid display of Sikh seva is no doubt evident in Gurdwaras. With the words sat nam waheguru on their lips Sikhs vie for the opportunity to be able to do some seva. There is never a dearth of volunteers howsoever mean, hard or risky the task may be. It is inspiring to see small children, mere toddlers, distributing napkins or spoons in the langar. Evidently the inculcation of seva as a Sikh value is a continuing priority for the believers.
The anchorage of the precept in Sikh scriptural thought and its praxis in Gurdwara has blended seva into Sikh values and way of life. It also has helped Sikh seva to retain its moral and ethical moorings as a humble offering by the devotee to the Divine in harmony with God’s benevolent dispensation. As the choices for offering seva change even though rather belatedly, hopefully this extended outreach will continue to fulfill its promise and purpose as envisioned by the Gurus.
——————–ooo——————— Note: References are cites from Guru Granth Sahib, unless otherwise indicated.
 gurmukh nam dan isnan, gurmukh laagai sehj dheyan – Ramkali M I, Sidh Ghost, p. 942
 McLeod, W H, Who is a Sikh? OUP, 1989, p. 2
 tan man dhan sabh saunp gur ko hukam maniai paiai – Ramkali Anand M III, p.918
 hath paon kar kam sabh cheet niranjan nal – Slok Kabir p. 1376
 The Encyclopaedia of Sikhism, Patiala, 1997, Vol III, p. 162-63
 aape thaakur aape sevak sabh aape aapi govindae – Bilawal M IV, p. 800
 changey changa kar maney mandey manda hoey, aasaq ahu neh aakhiey jeh lekha vartey soey – Var Asa, Slok M II, p.474
 seva karo das dasan ki anik bhant tis karo nihora – Gauri M V, p.204
 jee jant sabh taa ki seva – Maroo M V, p.1084
 Jete jee tete sabh tere vin seva phal kissai nahin – Asa MI, p.356
 birtha kaho kaun sio man ki, lobh garsio dashoo dis dhawat aas lageyo dhan ki, such ke het bahut dukh pavat sev karar jan jan ki, duareh duar sooan jio dolat neh sudh ram bhajan ki – Asa M I, p. 411
 dharnidhar tiag neech kul seveh hau hau karat behavath, phokat karam kareh agyani manmukh andh kahawath – Maroo M V, p. 1001
 abae tabae kee chaakaree kio daragah paavai – Asa M I. P. 420
 sevak ki orak nibh –ee preet, jeewat sahib seveo apna chalte rakheo cheet — dhunn sevak safal ouhu aaeiaa jin Naanak khasam pashaataa –Maroo M V, p.1000
 ja ke mastak bhag so seva laiya – Asa M V, p. 457
 eko saevee avar na doojaa – Bhairon M V, p.1136
 har ki seva saphal hai gurmukh pavai thaaye – M III, p. 86
 jo sukh prabh gobind ki seva so sukh raj neh lahuje – Gauri Kabir, p. 336
 kar kirpa apni seva laayaa sagla durt mitaeya – Parbhati M V, p. 1338
 char padarath har ki seva – Majh M V, p. 108
 jin seviaa jin seviaa meraa hari jee te hari hari roop samaasee – Asa M IV So Purkh, p. 11
 thir paarbraham parmaesaro saevak thir hosee – Maru Var M V, p. 1100
 anik bhant kar seva kariye, jeeo pran dhan aagey dhareeay, pani pakha karo taj abhiman, anik bar jayiai kurban, sai suhagan jo prabh bhai, tis kai sang milio meri mai – rahau – dasan dasi ki panihar, un ki rain basey ji nal, mathai bhag te pavo sang, milay swami apney rang, jaap taap devo sabh nema, karam dharma arpo sabh homa, garbh moh taj hovo rein, un kai sang dekho prabh nain, nimakh nimakh ehi aradho, dinas rein eh seva sadhau – Asa M V, p. 391
 gur seva bin bhagat neh hoi – Parbhati Ashtpadi M I Bibhas, p. 1342
 nadri satgur seviye nadri seva hoi – Vadhans M III, p. 558
 satigur kee saevaa gaakharree sir deejai aap gavaae – Slok M III, p.649
 satigur kaa bhaanaa mann layee vichahu aap gavaai.eha seva chaakree naam vasai manni aai, Sri Rag M III, p.34
 gur ki seva sabad veechar – Gauri M I, p. 223
 gur ki seva chakri man nirmal sukh hoye – Sri Rag M I, p. 61
 gur seva te man nirmal hoe agyan andhera jaye – M III, p. 593
 gur seva te tribhuvan sojhi hoye – Asa M III, p. 423
 gur seva te aap pachhata – Asa M I, p. 415
 naanak bin satigur saevae mokh na paaeae – Sri Rag ki Var, p.88
 jan ki seva ootam kama – Gauri Guareri M IV, p. 164
 tan man arap karo jan seva rasna har gun gao – Devgandhari M V, p. 533
 homai vich seva neh hovai tan man birtha jayee – Vadhans M III, p. 560
 kar kirpa mohe thakur deva, nanak udhre jan ki seva – Parbhati M V, p. 1338
 Sunita Puri, Advent of Sikhism, Delhi, 1993, p. 129
 Article III, Chapter III, SRM, SGPC Amritsar, July 1997, p.8
 Article XXI (1), SRM, p.32