Break Free Of Rituals And Abstractions
23 November 2009, 12:00am IST
The Srimad Bhagavatam lit a new path to the Divine, free from binding ritual and esoteric abstractions. On the one hand, it portrayed the majesty and might, the mahatmya of the Supreme Being. On the other, it revealed the tantalising possibility of blissful communion with Him in a loving relationship. In doing so, the Bhagavatam introduced the liberating and transcendental gospel of bhakti yoga.
Nothing pleases God as much as devotion. How dear bhaktas or devotees and their bhakti or devotion are to the Lord can be gleaned from the declaration in the Srimad Bhagavatam, that it is for the love of devotees that God takes form from time to time. Sathya Sai Baba says:
“The Avatar or Form Incarnate on earth is only the concretisation of the yearning of seekers. They are the prime cause. The cow secretes milk for the sustenance of the calf. It is the chief beneficiary. But others too benefit from that milk. So along with the sustenance of the bhaktas, other incidental benefits also accrue, such as fostering of dharma.” ~Sathya Sai Baba
Srimad Bhagavatam belongs to the class of Hindu scriptures known as the Puranas, and enlightens humanity on the sacred mystery of incarnations. The mystical life of the divine enchanter Krishna is finely detailed in the Bhagavatam, inspiring devotion in human hearts. Though the concept of devotion is as old as the Vedas, the Bhagavatam introduced the concept of a personal god with countless attributes who could be adored and worshipped as ‘one’s own’, in the form of child, parent, master, friend, or beloved.
The word ‘bhakti’ is derived from the root ‘bhaj’, which has several meanings to serve, to honour, to love, to adore. According to Narada, the great theoretician of bhakti, it is the wholehearted and supreme love of God, obtaining which the devotee feels he has gained the highest attainment in life, as also unalloyed bliss. Sandilya has expressed bhakti as ‘unabated and unslackening attachment to God.’
The Bhagavatam expands the frontiers of bhakti and states, ”When all energies of mind, organs of knowledge and of action become concentrated as a unified mental mode, directed to the Supreme Being, spontaneous like an instinct and devoid of any extraneous motives, the resulting state of mind is bhakti. It is superior even to mukti. Like fire it burns away the soul’s sheath of ignorance.”
Bhakti is divine engagement with the Supreme; it draws upon the highest energies of the soul. It calls for incessant yearning from a purified heart, soaked in devotion. Krishna said of the gopis, blessed souls who attained to this state and whose total devotion for Krishna is at the centre of the Bhagavatam: “They never learnt the Vedas, they never served any teacher, they practised no austerity, but by association with holiness and love alone they attained to Me.”
Sathya Sai Baba says:
“Devotion is the supreme state that man can attain. It is bhakti that proves the eternal truth, Tat Twam Asi Thou Art That that the devotee and God are one.” ~ Sathya Sai Baba
The Bhagavatam too declares bhakti to be the highest gift of God, bestowed on aspirants more rarely than mukti itself. No wonder then that the bhakta is ready to forego even the pleasures of Vaikuntha and the goal of mukti itself, for the ineffable delight of loving his Lord.
Today is Sathya Sai Baba’s birthday.
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