Voluntary work is incomplete without meaningful engagement and mindful participation


Dr KK Aggarwal    25 February 2018

Dr KK Aggarwal

Recipient of Padma Shri

The English dictionary gives the meaning of the word ‘voluntary’ as something “done or undertaken of ones own free will” or something “done willingly and without constraint or expectation of reward”.

A voluntary act forms the foundation of social welfare. Whenever we talk of voluntary work, National Cadet Corps (NCC), National Service Scheme (NSS), Rotarians, Lions are some of the names that immediately come to mind.

The practice of charity or assistance is enshrined in our Indian ethos. In Vedic language, someone who gives is said to be like a devta. But this giving has to be unconditional and loving. The Bhagavad Gita also teaches us selfless giving without motive...“an action that is ordained, done by one undesirous of fruit, devoid of attachment, without love or hate, that is called pure” (Gita XVIII, verse 23).

A volunteer is a giver. Giving is not by force or coerced. A voluntary work is not done at the level of mind or physical body, but is at the level of the soul.

Every voluntary work has two characteristics. The first is meaningful engagement and the other is mindful participation.

Not doing something just for the sake of doing it is called meaningful engagement. Every action should count and not be ‘mere tokenism’. Only then it will make an impact in the life of the person who you are trying to help. Never volunteer only because someone in the family or a friend or a colleague is doing so.

Get involved. Open your eyes of the physical, mind and soul and then decide on the type of volunteer work you should do.

The principles of “Suno Samjho Jaano Karo” come into play here. These principles are the essence of Vedic science. They have also been clearly defined in Bhagavad Gita by Lord Krishna. Hearing is at the level of physical body and mind, listening is at the level of intellect and wisdom is at the level of soul. One should hear, listen, understand and convert it into wisdom. Hearing means that you hear anything but listening means using your intellect to learn its meaning. Understanding means you should understand its value in your context and wisdom means you should practice it, again and again, to learn intricacies of its implications and the knowledge gets switched to your consciousness forever.

Mindfulness participation means involving yourself completely into the activity that you are volunteering for. This may be called yogic doing or meditation through work.

So, when you do voluntary work

  • Own that work
  • Belong to that work
  • Involve every stakeholder (inclusiveness)

Volunteering is not just giving, it is also learning. You learn when you share, you learn from the experiences of others.

Volunteer work is also a corollary of copy ‘left’, which means relinquishing or giving up your copyright on an idea, which you do not want to work on or implement. This allows people to share common ideas of community interest.


Dr KK Aggarwal

Padma Shri AwardeeVice President CMAAOGroup Editor-in-Chief IJCP Publications

President Heart Care Foundation of India

Immediate Past National President IMA

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