Swami Vivekananda had once remarked: "Jatra jiva, tatra Shiva (In every creature there's God)." For him "service to the jiva (being) was service to Shiva (God)". And till this day, Ramakrishna Mission—the monastic order founded by Vivekananda—lives by this motto of karma yoga, however far from the limelight.
Take Ataria, a village 50 km from Lucknow. It's one of the three laboratories where the Lucknow-based Ramakrishna Mission Sevashram is currently conducting experiments with its truth of service and charity. And thanks to these experiments, every Wednesday and Saturday hope and optimism accompany the first rays of sun to this tiny hamlet.
These are days when children excitedly scurry out of their beds and expecting mothers take a quick bath. The ailing and the old too seem to be in their best spirits and there is a light, joyful spring in every step. They just can't wait to reach the makeshift shed in their village.
In no time there is a huge though orderly queue under the straw roof, with the little ones huddling in one corner. Suddenly, an engine's...