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A Dictionary of Hinduism

W. J. Johnson

sevā (‘ service’) 

A corollary and expression of bhakti, particularly for the Śrī Vaiṣṇavas, it involves all aspects of the respectful and devoted material care of the arcāvatāra of the deity. By extension, such sevā is also due to one's guru. Since the 19th century, the term has also acquired a wider meaning, with Neo-Hindu reformers and others considering it a social as well as a religious duty to ‘serve’ the poor and disadvantaged.