In 2013, about six months after Swami Kriyananda’s passing, Devi and I visited a “Nadi reader” in Bangalore, India. These readings, written thousands of years ago by an ancient lineage of seers and astrologers, give detailed information and advice regarding people yet to be born.

The Nadi reader in Bangalore, India. The photo in the upper left corner is his father who trained him in giving readings.

The Nadi reader in Bangalore, India and his father (upper-left-corner image). His father trained him to give readings.

A specially trained pundit casts a chart from your birthdate and looks for a page that matches it. As we sat in his small office, he went into a second room where he stored thousands of such readings. After a few minutes he returned and announced that he had, indeed, found a reading for each of us among his bundles. Each was written in ancient Sanskrit on a palm leaf that was a little over a foot long and folded accordion-like.

He started my reading by stating quite definitely that my life was dedicated to finding God and to Guru seva: service to the guru. He then went on to add numerous details about our present life, all of which were amazingly accurate. There was information about our son and his family, and statements about our health, including the fact that I had recently had an operation. He predicted that my doctor would recommend a second operation, but that it wouldn’t be necessary—all true. The accuracy of the details regarding our present circumstances gave us faith in what he related about our past and future lives.

While the reading itself was fascinating, I want to share one thing he said that applies to all of us. At one point he read, “You have never been in business.” I objected, telling him that I had started an incense business, one of Ananda’s first income sources, and had run it successfully for several years. “Was this for personal profit,” the pundit inquired, “or to help the Guru’s work?” I replied that it had been to help Ananda grow. “Then it is not business,” he explained. “It is Guru seva.”

This is an essential point for all of us to realize. What is important is not what we do but why and how we do it. If you dedicate your energies to God and Guru, then you are doing Guru seva. Here are a few principles for doing it more effectively.

1) Consciously offer your activity to God or your guru. This can’t be a “one and done” kind of offering, but must be mindful and regular.

2) Ask the Guru’s advice both for general directions and specific details. This constant conversation keeps you open to God’s guidance and grace.

3) Practice the Guru’s teachings in your life. Attunement is produced by actions, not words.

4) Give back to the Guru’s work. At Ananda, most of us tithe, giving a portion of our monthly income to God or our Guru’s mission. This is spiritually important. Attachment to money is one of the three great delusions, and giving first to God helps free you from the web of maya.

Toward the end of the reading, he said these comforting words to me: “You will uphold the honor of your guru’s work.” This is much more than a statement about my specific role as Dharmacharya for Ananda Worldwide. For the real work of a master, you see, is to free you from delusion. If you stay true to your spiritual aspirations, then you, too, will be doing Guru seva, and upholding the honor of your guru’s work.

In Guru seva,

Nayaswami Jyotish

Subscribe to the Touch of Light podcast. Download the audio recording of this week’s blog by right-clicking here. Or listen to it here (4:38):


  1. In today’s turmoil that people go thru either caused by events or people in their life or because of their own doings or may be even the luck factor….. One thing is certain we reap the karmas that we have sown in the past, are creating in our present and that are to be born yet!
    But what if is the ultimate purpose of all this cyclic play of things….. Even if God realization is attained by those enlightened, and then what…. To what purpose is this whole game of maya and then the soul moving towards consciousness or God realization (even assuming that it supposedly “should” Be the ultimate purpose and goal of a human birth!!)

    Somewhere in the journey…. May be even the soul gets tired of its “ultimate” Purpose!! ?

    .. . … About the Olai chudi or the palm leaf readings….. (In Tamilnadu also there is this place and temple called Vaidheeswaran kovil where this palm leaf readings are very very popular btw) are there only a FINITE NUMBER OF SOULS going thru birth & death cycles…. Even if that palm leaf pertained to your earlier births, current one and may be your future human births!!
    In the Hinduistic way of Sanaatan Dharma Or Universal Dharma, a soul gets about 7 chances taking birth as a human life form – so may be the palm leafs can kinda have a summary of your seven human births – and this lifetime you may be doing your 4th or 5th or may be the 7th human life cycle!

    But then are there only FINITE SOULS that go thru rebirth cycles – ON THIS PLANET MAY BE!? ?

    So many many mysteries of a human mind & of a spiritual seeker may be……..!

    1. Hi Srila, looking at my own life, and all the tendencies I have, I’m pretty sure there has to be a lot more than 7 lives as a human :)

  2. Thank you, for sharing this beautiful experience, dear Jyotish ji.
    Thanks for those points that we would love to absorb and live them.
    Guru seva is Joyful.

  3. Thank you Jyotishji, that was very inspiring, and especially that summary of points at the end was very helpful to re-read and remember.

  4. Thank you! This is wonderful and such a good reminder that Guru Seva is how we grow and uphold the honor of our Guru’s work.

  5. Uplifting consciousness of those around and the world at large is a profound way to pay obeisance to guru’s teachings and works !

  6. thank You dear JoytishJi, so inspiring this story…
    così importante per ricordare di svolgere il nostro lavoro dedicandolo a Dio!


  7. Bless you Nayaswami Jyotish for your Guru seva.
    In Divine Friendship and Love

  8. Off topic for this segment of The Touch of Light, which is really wonderful! I’ll add this.

    It has been posited that there is, an infinite space hidden between our thoughts. So that follows with the question. Is our constant internal mental chit-chat, another trick of maya to prevent us experiencing the infinite of the present moment?

    Astronomers wanted to aim the Hubble space telescope at a region of space that appeared, empty. So for a period from September 24, 2003, through to January 16, 2004 they collected light from a small region of space in the constellation Fornax. What it uncovered was one of the most profound discoveries of the modern era of astronomy. What they saw in that supposedly vacant region, was instead populated by an astonishing, estimated, 10,000 galaxies. The distance that light had traveled took several billion LIGHT years to reach Hubble’s light collector plate.

    One of the goals of mediation is to dive inwardly, beyond the turbulent surface of day to day activities and distractions. Find your own “deep field,” and with the trusting innocence of a curious child, explore what these sacred teachings promise, that one day, we too will experience what our Guru experienced in Samadi.

    “All space floats like an iceberg in my mental sea.”
    “Eternity and I, one united ray.”
    “From joy I came, for joy I live, in sacred joy I melt.”

  9. Divine Gratitude dear soul. In Divine Friendship, always. Namaste

  10. Dear Nayaswami Jyotish Ji,

    Thank you for this inspiring blog. Great guidelines!
    This advise in specific is of a great help to attune ourselves to Master
    “3) Practice the Guru’s teachings in your life. Attunement is produced by actions, not words.”

    Thank you for these lines and the inspiring blog

    At Master’s Service

  11. Thank You Great Soul for your example of Guru Seva
    and for your leadership, discipleship, and divine friendship.
    ~~~Peace, Josette

  12. Does the Nadi reader that you met offer readings online or phone consultations? I do not have a way to get to India but would like to work with someone reputable.

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