Guru Gobind Singh was holding discussions with a congregation at Anandpur Sahib. It was the hot summer month of June, and he asked for a glass of water. A young boy named Sohan was amongst the devotees. The son of a rich landlord, this was his first visit to the Guru. He quickly responds to the Guru’s request, and fetches a glass of water.
As he takes the glass, Guru Gobind Singh asks him some questions. Have you ever performed community service? Have you ever served in the community kitchen, and washed utensils, and swept the floor? Have you ever looked after the sick and needy, and comforted them?
To all these questions, Sohan can only reply in the negative. He is the son of a rich man, pampered with fine food and clothes. He has only sat in his father’s office, and learnt about the family wealth, while the poor employees have looked after him.
The Guru then throws away the water, and continues his discussion. The devotees are surprised by this incident. Sohan was wearing clean clothes, and had washed his hands and the glass, before filling it with cool water, which he respectfully offered. They want to know why the Guru did not accept the water.The Guru asks them if they would accept water from a corpse. The congregation says that this young
person is no corpse. The Guru recites these lines from the Guru Granth Sahib:
Handsome and beautiful, of a respected family, very wise, a spiritual teacher, prosperous and wealthy;
All that—but he is a corpse, O Nanak, if he does not serve the Lord.
He is served through selfless service to His creation. Our very body and all else are His gifts, and to rise above being a mere body, we should be of service to all. Only then do we graduate from being a mere body, and become a human being.