How does Bhakti arise? Typically one takes to one form of Divinity. This again depends on one’s tendencies. First it may start with a barter trade! I want something so can you please help me. In return I will sacrifice something. Once Devotion becomes more, there will arise genuine prayers. Many a time’s circumstances (suffering) will compel one to depend more on Him. The prayers will progress to only asking for His Love and nothing else. Then it progresses to acceptance of all He gives (again linked to that form) as His blessings. The next stage will be that the Mind stills temporarily in presence of that form. At this time imagination will kick in (in my view this is the height or acme of imagination) and that form becomes He/She/It. All one’s emotion become single pointed to that Form. Ultimately through the Minds continued absorption (and therefore silence) with that Form the Joy will transcend all Forms and nothing else but Happiness remains at this stage. “The Formless and the Formed become joined in Her”( SriAurobindo’sSavitri) becomes real. Again this path transcends the need to acquire knowledge about the Truth of Life. One then conquers the True Joy by sheer Love of the Lord.
Till one transcends form or acquires true knowledge first intellectually and then through experience it is very difficult to have the deepest of love for many forms (especially of the Divine). This particularly applies when no expectations are there from a deity in a temple or elsewhere i.e., one does not pray for anything but only relates to the Divine in the form of one’s favourite deity. In my view to facilitate strong bonds and love many religions have almost made it mandatory to relate only to one form of God. Even in those religions which are not mono theistic typically it has always been recommended to stay loyal and devoted to one form. It seems unfortunately to have been later enforced through fear or labelling other forms as being inferior etc. None of these will matter once the Mind is transcended but till the Devotion becomes over powering it has to be borne in Mind!
Similarly there may arise a question as to whether Love of all human beings is a good enough substitute for devotion to the Divine. The answer is Yes and No. Yes to the extent that there have been many persons who have sacrificed their Self or Ego to the service of humanity. They can be truly termed as saints. However, I could term this as the path of Work led by a complete love of all. No to the extent that the persons concerned cling to their ‘selves’ and claim ownership of their service to all. The effect can be perceived only by the person concerned and hence others will find it difficult to judge/understand. Here again one should not forget that what others think is immaterial what matters is whether the person concerned is Truly Happy or not!
Finally the path of Devotion involves many times a strong imagination (at least till the Mental barriers are breached). Therefore for others who see the person concerned it may seem odd or strange behaviour. However once the Mind becomes silent then the Joy of Devotion is so strong that it does not bother about anything else other than one’s love of the Lord. There are again various examples like Mira and even more recently like Chaitanya Mahaprabhu whose love of Lord Krishna overpowered all obstacles. The poems or words of such persons will help focus others efforts to reach that stage of Devotion early.
To summarize amongst the paths to Happiness, Devotion or Bhakti to Him is the easiest way to surrender/sacrifice one’s Ego or Self to Him. This will mean initially all our Desires will die away or be burnt by the power of our Love of Him. Once we want Him only ( irrespective of what form we choose, we only Love Him as He is all Forms as well as the Formless) then our emotions will transcend normal reactions and reach a stage where the Mind becomes completely intoxicated with Love of Him and no thoughts will intrude then.
Finally even all Forms will be surpassed and only the Bliss of complete union with Him will alone remain. This stage can be called as the Joy of Being and is always felt. Then any event which occurs or outcomes arise will be His blessings and the Mind will refuse to react to any outcome as it is lost in the Love of Him. Normal life may still carry on for some but it is not normal as we think today but it is an experience of a Joy beyond words or Mental understanding. Sometimes we do get a taste of the potential Joy one can feel when thoughts get stilled and we get lost in the Beauty or Serenity of our favourite Deity. We should not forget that what we experience is only a small microsome ( may be one millionth) of the Happiness one gets when lost in complete devotion to Him. The path of Devotion is the easiest in many ways as knowledge of the scriptures or teachings are not necessary in itself. Therefore Sri Aurobindo in Savitri (again Adoration of the Divine Mother) says: “A Burning Love from white spiritual founts, Annulled the sorrow of the ignorant depths; Suffering was lost in her immortal smile’
In this path our Love of the Lord conquers all our imperfections; past tendencies and most importantly all our other desires leaving only permanent and True Happiness as our Self.
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