What is Bhakthi or Devotion
Puttaparthi, Sai Kulwanth Hall (1996 Special Discourses )
People make many efforts, follow many paths and receive God’s grace in the process, to attain the supreme goal of devotion. What is ‘bhakthi’ or devotion? ‘Bhakthi’ is derived from the root word ‘bhaj’. It means service. It means the spirit of servitude. It indicates the main principle of love. The root word ‘bhaj’ has many meanings.
Path of bhakthi is very sacred00:02:00
Shankaracharya expounded the principle of adwaitha. He declared, “Sathyam gyanam anantham brahma—Brahma is infinite truth and wisdom!” It is easy to speak about these in words but very difficult to experience. He also wrote “Sivananda Lahari” in proof of adwaitha principle as is his other work “Soundaryalahari.” which is proof beyond doubt of the adwaitha principle. Shankara who propounded the principle of adwaitha, wrote books about it and spread it nationwide, said at last, ”Bhajagovindam, Bhajagovindam, Govindam, bhaja moodhamathe!” (O ignorant mind, chant the sacred name of the Lord!!) He ultimately followed the path of devotion. He expounded and wrote about adwaitha but aspired and practiced devotion, the dwaitha principle. Therefore “bhakthi” or devotion is highly sacred, is sweet and blissful and is delightful. One must develop such devotion in oneself. Devotion is immortal, infinite and eternal. This is the principle taught by Sage Narada.
Permanent address of God is your heart00:02:17
One must never think that God is present only in pilgrim centres or in holy shrines. God is everywhere but His permanent address is one’s heart. Sage Narada asked Lord Narayana once,” Swamy, I am on the move in all the three phases of time and observe the good and the bad happening in the world. Once in a while I feel like reporting those to you but, I know not your whereabouts. Some say you dwell in Kailasa, some say its Vaikuntha, some say you dwell in heaven—I do not know where they are.” Then the Lord answered thus: “‘madbhaktaha, yatra gayanti, tatra tishtaami Narada!!’ Narada! Vaikuntha, Kailasa and heaven are like the branch offices, heart is my permanent address. I dwell in those places where devotees chant my name. ‘.....tatra tishtaami Narada!’I do not live there, I install myself there.” Devotees search for God elsewhere, when He is in one’s heart!! However, the chanting or the bhajan singing is not being done with pure and selfless heart. God manifests where one thinks of Him with pure and sacred heart.
Swami on Prahalada and his devotion00:01:15
Here is Prahalada. Prahalada is a tiny tot. Though he was so young, he never disobeyed God. He was unmindful of difficulties. He chanted the name of Narayana all the time. As he surrendered to Narayana, Narayana has taken care of him. He was thrown from the mountain top, he repeated Narayana's name, he was protected. He was thrown into the ocean, there also he chanted Narayana's name, the waves have taken the form of Narayana. He was bitten by snakes, poison became nectar. In all periods of time, when he was faced difficulties, he chanted the name of Narayana. We find the Moses taking this path in the Bible - he considered everything to be Jesus.
What is true devotion; From Jesus life00:02:30
Many consider themselves to be devotees. What is this devotion? Mere worship and service cannot be called devotion. These are only parts of service. True devotion means that you should never transgress, you should never disobey God's message. At any point of time you should never disobey God's message. This is the true nature of God. Sathya Harishchandra adhered to this path of truth at all periods of time, in spite of ordeals, struggle and turmoil in his path. Throughout his life, he proceeded on the path of truth. Because of the effects of the Kali age, people start worshipping God when times are favourable. When once there are difficulties and ordeals, their minds change. You all know this episode in the Bible. It was decided that Jesus should be crucified. It was also thought that the devotees also must be crucified. Peter was so near, Mathew was also so near, St. Paul was so near to Jesus. But at that time they said they are not his followers. Is that the way a follower should be? They should be ready to face anything, let whatever happen. But men are not prepared to sacrifice.
Swami on significance of Bhakthi00:02:00
You are not increasing your faith in spiritual things but you are going down towards the material things. There is nothing beyond devotion. Devotion, devotion, devotion. Bha and kthi the two syllables in Bhakthi, devotion, In Bhakthi, Bha is lustre, luminosity, illumination. From Bha you get kthi, that which attracts this lustre is kthi. From that Bhakthi you get Shakthi. Body mind and soul, the strength of these together is Shakthi or strength. These are in the Sthree (Woman), BHAKTHI, SHAKTHI and between the two you also get RAKTI, ie. getting immersed in worldly things. Sometimes we also get this type of renunciation, Virakthi, when you get disgusted with the world. Then God gives us the path forward. So you have got to go towards this goal, called MUKTHI. So man has got to take the journey right from the mother's womb till he attains the Atmic Principle.
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