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date: 17 April 2021

Abstract and Keywords

In contemporary times, adequately knowing “other” (especially non-Western) belief systems becomes imperative to expand and deepen a global understanding of moral development. Central to the Hindu, Indian psyche is Dharma, a guiding worldview that upholds universal moral order and encompasses complex interactions among the “Big Three” ethics of Autonomy, Community, and Divinity. Self-development in India is essentially embedded in a dharmic framework, emphasizing virtues and ecological sensitivity to the dynamic place and role of the self in a larger cosmic order. Seva (selfless service) is an important component in the dharmic worldview that supports processes of self-realization. Cultivating the intention of seva without expecting anything in return purifies and engenders a dharmic self that contributes meaningfully to its spiritual growth by transcending social hierarchies. Gandhi evoked seva as “applied spirituality,” extending it to the community when he said, “The best way to find your Self is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Immersion in seva transforms the self that appreciates interconnectedness among all living systems and practices universal values of compassion, nonviolence and love.

Keywords: Dharma, seva, self, community, divinity, volunteering, spirituality, Gandhian philosophy, India

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