Chapter

From <i>Seva</i> to Social Service

Carey Anthony Watt

in Serving the Nation

Published in print December 2005 | ISBN: 9780195668025
Published online October 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199081905 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195668025.003.0004
From Seva to Social Service

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This chapter explores how the ideas and practices of seva were transformed in early twentieth century colonial India. It first investigates the changing ideas of seva, and the way in which service as action was related to other Indian concepts of dharma, bhakti and sannyas. It also explores the reasons behind the proliferation of social service associations, sabhas, and samitis in the1910s. The author describes how the assistance of pilgrims at Hindu fairs (such as the Kumbh Melas of 1915, 1918) and pilgrimage centres became one of their most visible undertakings. An examination of concrete, practical examples of active service, including the Indian Boy Scouts Association (begun by Annie Besant) and the Girl Guide Movement, is provided. The author also describes how social service and self-help organizations were involved in educational efforts and the cultivation of bodily health, both concepts being linked to the creation of an active and responsible citizenry.

Keywords: seva; dharma; bhakti; social service; Indian Boy Scout Association; The Girl Guide Movement; Indian self-help organizations; Indian citizenry

Chapter.  15110 words.  Illustrated.

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