The word seva comes from the Sanskrit root, sev, meaning to "attend" or "to go towards." Seva is generally understood to be "service" and mostly is used in the context of religious service as in the case of a person doing Deity seva by bringing fruits and flower and bowing down before a form of God in a temple.
This is actually a form of bhakti-yoga. Another way to look at seva is simply as volunteer service, and in the case of a temple, for example, this could mean polishing copper or silverware, cleaning, or the offering of professional services such as bookkeeping or architectural skills. Seva can also be used in reference to philanthropic work such as volunteering to work for civic organizations or hospitals, and so on. Another form of seva is guru seva or service to one's teacher.
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