The Path Of Love – Bhakti Yoga
Love, faith, devotion, worship, surrender and many more are the synonyms of the Bhakti. Cultivating Bhakti makes life blissful. In truth the flower of devotion is a divine flower which blooms in the hearts of devotees and the whole world becomes fragrant by its fragrance. Devotee Meera worshipped Krishna as her Husband, on the other hand Lord Hanuman served Lord Rama. While Sudhama is the friend of Lord Krishna and Bali has surrendered everything including himself to the Lord. They all are the few examples of the devotees who served God with their Love and full Heart.
Sages, saints and devotees describes the 9 parts of saguna and nirguna devotion. They are popular as the navdha bhakti. Nav means nine and bhakti is devotion. Lets see what are the different nine processes of devotion:
Shravan (Hearing), Kirtan (Chanting), Smaran (Remembering), Sevan (In Service), Dasya (Executing Orders), Archan (Worshipping), Vandan (Praying and praising), Sakhya (Friendship), Atma Samarpan (Surrendering).
A devotee can practice any of these nine forms of bhakti, whichever suits his nature best.
Shravan – Hearing
Hearing the name of God, listening to the stories and gyan from scriptures. Listening with full concentration in steady posture is the first step. Gradually by hearing, knowing of the unknown happens. It is a way to create the thirst for the love of Lord. Contrarily it also satisfies the thirst of love. We feel satisfied when we hear about our beloved. Isn’t it?
Kirtan – Chanting and Singing
Like the lover loves to talk about his beloved, a bhakt (devotee) loves to sing the name of beloved Lord. Talking about the glory of God or chanting the name of God humbly and lovingly is Kirtan. Devotee is like a lover. Kirtan also refers to the congregational chanting and singing of the holy name of the God. Merging with the name of God while singing and chanting is the most blissful experience.
Smaran – Remembering
The constant remembrance of God is smaran. Either it’s a day to day activity or at work keep remembering the Lord in every activity. Even in all the extreme sufferings and pain the name of the God is always with the devotee then this is called smaran. Whether the moment is of happiness or loss, Lord is always there with the devotee in his mind in each and every moment. This is samaran.
Sevan – In Service
Sevan is offering the services in the lotus feet of Lord. It is also known as paad sevan, paad means the feet and sevan is to serve. Like in many pictures of Lord Vishnu we have seen Goddess Lakshmi is sitting near the, touching the feet of Lord. One of the significance is that devotee wants to be with Lord every time. So wherever Lord will go the devotee will accompany him being in his service always. It’s like a never breaking Bond between the bhakt and bhagwan. The restless and ever changing mind may get diverted from the devotion so sevan is a sign of asking Lord : “take me with you and tie me to you always even if my mind distracts.”
Dasya – Executing Orders
Dasyam or dasya is the type of devotion where bhakt is the servant of the God. The bhaav (feeling) behind the devotion is – “God is the boss of the creation, the universe and I am the creation of Him, executing orders for the Lord.” For this devotee needs to understand the job and desires of the Lord in order to fulfill them. For example: Hanuman Ji understands Lord Rama. He used to snap his fingers when Rama yawns, to keep him awake. Bhakt Hanuman has executed every order and desire of the Lord Rama. He offers his services to not only Bhagwan Rama but also to the devotees of Lord.
Archan – Worshipping
Archana is worshipping Lord in the form of pooja, rituals and offerings. Like doing the aarti, lighting lamps, offering clothes and flowers etc. Rituals are mentioned in many scriptures if one is into the archan form of devotion. The offering with love is the purest form of archan. When we love some one we offer our best to him. In the same way, God is the beloved and if lover does archan with love, he makes his place in the heart of Lord. Not only we do worshipping with physical things but also the manasik pooja can be done (offerings in the mind).
Vandan – Praying and Praising
Devotee invokes the Lord with prayers, he offers his salutation to the Lord and he also glorifies the name of the God, these all are the forms of vandan. Vandan is praying to the Lord for many purposes, still the purpose is not for any worldly desire. Prayer is the most intimate form to connect with the Lord. Vandan is the heart to heart conversation with the beloved. It can be done with many tools like chanting the mantra, stuti, meditation, glorifying the name etc. It is upto the devotee how he wants to do, there is not hard and fast rule for this. All what matters is that it comes from the heart with sincerity.
Sakhya – Friendship
Befriend with God, like Arjuna and Krishna. Krishna drove the chariot of the Arjuna and at the same time He stood up to Arjuna as a Guru to clear up his doubts. Furthermore He came in front of Arjuna as the Supreme Lord to awaken Him. Like a true friend shares ups and downs of the other, God is the real friend only, who can stand by us in every thick and thin. The bond of friendship is unbreakable! He is with me! Having this kind of feeling and trust in the Lord is Shakya Bhaav.
Atma Samarpan – Surrendering
Surrendering the self to the God. I, me, myself, my, mine are all devoted to Lord. No traces of ego remain. Complete surrender is Atma Samarpan. Whatever I have is in the service of Lord, even this body, this I. I offer to you, all wealth and possessions, all situations good or bad, as well as myself. And I take refuge in you, take care for me, protect me.
As a result now devotee has no other motive left in his life. Thus he experiences the highest, the oneness to supreme.
Bhakti or devotion is the path of love. Any process out of these can lead to the ultimate. It is the path of joy, tears, emotions, feelings and surrendering. The urge of being one with beloved is the ultimate reward in itself. Indeed lucky ones are those who have this urge for Lord!