I recently wrote to a friend that I haven’t been in touch with for many years, though I had once been quite close with him and we [were] colleagues together, taking up some form of idealistic work. He wrote back right away, and in his greeting, said “Namaskar Ravi – Great man!” We used to have an environment of work that was very supportive and encouraging, and we would say this to each other often.


What is it to be a great person? And how does [this] quality [become] created, get nurtured?


There are many different concepts of greatness. For some, it is to acquire an imposing domineering personality that can make things happen in the world. I think most of us would agree that this is a bit of a superficial or misdirected conception of greatness. But whatever greatness may constitute, I think what is more significant is what it is that nurtures and creates greatness in a person. My own teacher, Shrii Shrii Anandamurti, gave a formula for this, some insight. He says to “be great by your sadhana, your service, and your sacrifice.”

Sadhana is a Sanskrit term for making effort to deepen one’s connection with the Source of Love, with God, if you will. It is our spiritual life, [and] our commitment to our spiritual life.

Sadhana is a Sanskrit term for making effort to deepen one’s connection with the Source of Love, with God, if you will. It is our spiritual life, [and] our commitment to our spiritual life.

Service is to do something of others, to give something of one’s self to help other people or other living beings.

Sacrifice… the question comes to my mind, “what is the distinction between service and sacrifice?”

In both cases, you are giving. But I think it is obvious that what Anandamurti was signifying [is] that sacrifice is something different from service. He [suggested] that, [to] get my mind around the concept of sacrifice, [I should] think about the role of those who are mothers, particularly mothers of young children. Their life is an expression of much sacrifice in the care of an infant, a toddler, a young child who has little capacity to function on their own in the world. There is a lot of life they have to give up. If you were just doing service, you can schedule that into your day. For example, “okay, I’m going to schedule an hour in my day to go volunteer at a nonprofit group that is helping others in the community” or “I will set aside this portion of my income to support good work.” That is nice service. But sacrifice is a little different. When you have a young, dependent child, you cannot necessarily say “oh, it’s my time for my Pilates class” or “this is my time to go to my song circle” or “oh, this is my time for a workout.” You have to give up a lot to take care of the life of that dependent child. That is sacrifice. And we have all experienced expressions of sacrifice on the part of those who are mothers. We all have had mothers, and have been beneficiaries of their sacrifice.


Sometimes, a lot is given up, but in the course of that, it doesn’t necessarily break us. It may deepen us significantly. In ancient matriarchal cultures, it is said that those who are given the highest positions of respect and authorities in the tribe or community were those who were mothers. Those who had brought forward many children and grandchildren. Those were the ones who were looked to for guidance and wisdom. They were seen as being great [and] set the model of greatness. That is sacrifice. Sacrifice is to stretch into and let go of being concerned about holding everything together, in order to be concerned about that which is dependent upon you.


We are at a time when there is much deterioration of life and of humanity in the world. Life is becoming increasingly precarious, and there are many [needs] of people and living beings that are going unmet. All of us need to look to the example of mothers of young children and bring some of this spirit of sacrifice into our lives. Sacrifice in the service of other living beings. Perhaps today is a good day to remember this.

Ravi Logan

Ravi Logan is the Director of the PROUT Institute, and the Director of Transformation Education, the training and education department of Ananda Seva. He is the principal author of PROUT: A New Paradigm of Development.  His new books are A New Interpretation of Revolution and Transition to a New Era. He is also the co-founder and program director of Dharmalaya, which has as its mission, “to promote dharma holistically in personal, social and ecological spheres of life.” 

Ravi has dedicated his life for the past 50 years to the project of the liberation of human beings and society. Ravi has been teaching yoga and meditation since 1972, and brought yoga to Jamaica in 1974. In 1996 Ravi became a family acharya in Ananda Seva and has been involved with the organization since its inception, volunteering as publications secretary, retreat organizer, and developing training manuals for the mediation teacher training. His latest publication in that capacity is the Ananda Sutram Primer, an accessible format for understanding the philosophy of Shrii Shrii Anandamurti.


This article was transcribed from a talk by Ravi Logan given in May 2019. Transcription by Rene Tricou, editing by Michele Renee.

The transcription may vary slightly from the recording as it was edited to improve readability. 


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