The Upanishadic Ideal of service is based on the concepts of Truth, Dharma and Yajna. Without comprehending these three concepts we cannot understand what we have come to recognise as service today – the most appealing and popular component of modern religions.
Discovering the Satyam
Thousands of years ago, when humanity was still in a state of slumber, the super scientists of India, the Vedic rishis, were engaged in the knotty task of uncovering the Ultimate Reality of life.
This Reality of all realities, they soon found out, was beyond the world of pluralities, beyond whatever the senses could perceive.
Through a step- by- step approach, breaking through the world of plurality, they looked into the very core of their inner being and discovered the Ultimate Truth as the Self (atman) within. This they called as Satyam, the Truth.
The Way of Dharma
To realise that Eternal Truth within oneself, and feel its presence in the entire universe and adjust all our activities in such a way as to reflect that principle of Oneness in life. This is the dharma kept before every human being.
The final aim of dharma is Self realisation. This is what constitutes the essence of Upanishadic knowledge. This was the ancient truth that the rishis presented before us. To know, the Self, again, the dharma is the way.
This vision has been summarised in the eloquent words from the Taittiriya Upanishad, satyam vada, dharmam chara (‘speak the truth, follow the dharma)
Yajna, the Perennial Sacrifice
The Vedic ideal of Yajna is far more comprehensive, enriching and universal than what is conveyed by the word service.
Yajna, hence, is a symbol of the practical relationship between human beings, world and God or the Ultimate Reality (jiva, jagat and ishwara). That Yajna is an act of unification and expansion of the human spirit and is made clear by its basic tenets.
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