Kings built palaces and temples. But while the temples survive, there is no trace of their palaces. What we do for others survives. What we do selfishly, doesn’t last even until our death, said Ilampirai Manimaran, in a discourse.
A popular story shows that to God selfless service is important, even if the help we offer may be something simple. A king who built a temple had a dream, in which Lord Siva appeared, and the king asked Him if He was happy with the temple he had built. Siva replied that He was happy with the service of an old woman. Puzzled, the king wondered who the old woman was and what shelter she had offered. He talked to his sculptors about his dream. The sculptors told him, that while they had been at work, an old lady had served them water everyday. The water stored in a mud pot was cool and the sculptors found it most refreshing. The sculptor said this was the lady Lord Siva must have been talking about in the dream. So here was a huge temple built by a king. But what the Lord spoke about was the service of an old woman. That was because she had served refreshing water to the sculptors at work. She had seen that as a way of serving God Himself.
The poem Vaishnava Janato defines who a Vaishnavite is. The popular poem says that a person who is a devotee of Lord Vishnu, is one who can relate to the pain of others; he is one who does good to others. While helping others, we must help without condescension. The poem says that a true Vaishnava is not drawn by worldly attractions. His thoughts and deeds are pure. The mother of such a person may consider herself blessed. Such a person’s family too is saved by his goodness, and gets salvation by virtue of his good deeds.