May 8, 1996 – To Nirmala Deshpande on social work




Nirmala Deshpande, a small but very determined 67-year-old woman, is a renowned social activist, a Gandhian who has walked 40,000 kilometers throughout India carrying Gandhi’s philosophy and has tried to bring peace between Pakistan and India. Her life has been devoted to promoting communal harmony and serving women, tribal people, and the landless poor. When she and her colleagues come to Maharaj, he says to her,

All prophets have been social workers, and they shared everything with the people without any distinctions. God is the greatest social worker, with no demands. If you make distinctions, social work ends. Guru Gobind Singh said he would work for everyone as his own family, ready to sacrifice for all of them. At one point, when [in the jungle, pursued by enemies] he had nothing, no people with him, he was happy that his love and his work had not weakened. “I have nothing but Your Grace,” he said. To do social work means to forsake everything and keep smiling. One’s own family may be set side in order to work for the world, for making people be without enmity or fear.

People don’t believe in religion, but true religion is social work, not management. The prophets and messengers of God shared everything they had. If you ever think, “I am working so why don’t people praise me?”, social work finishes. In social work, you carry on with no such concerns—giving all your thoughts, your life to the work.

The prophets suffered for the people. Jesus said it was his mission to find the lost and weak lambs and reunite them with the herd. Who are the weak? Those with no eyes, no hands, no house, no food—one must give them strength to stand up, inner strength and energy to work. Such social work goes on and on.

Love comes and ego leaves. This is the social mission of dharam, along with sharing enlightened wisdom. Dharma could be called “social work.” Guru Nanak went thousands of miles to share his enlightened wisdom. People must be given the inclination to compassion.

Your programme is good. People have a hard time understanding, because they think social work, dharma, and enlightenment are different.

Prophets even healed the trees under which they sat. When Guru Nanak sat under the raita [soapnut] tree, its fruits became sweet. When other people who didn’t do religious work sat under raita trees, their fruits were very sour.

Social work is not something in the air. Here everything we do is for the public.

The idea of social work is very lofty. We all have one Father, and we are to share with each other.