About Bhakti!

Bhakti (Devotion) is the most profound human emotion that merges the individual’s identity with the Divinity. Bhakti has many definitions.

Two definitions are discussed here; “Saa (bhakti) tu asmin paramaprema roopaa” –is the most famous and popular definition of Bhakti from the Narada Bhakti Sutras. This means that Bhakti is the unalloyed love for God. This love is paramam (ultimate). Paramam also means that this love happens and exists without expecting anything in return. It is loving for the sake of loving. In this process we employ our sense organs (eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin) to know about God and Divinity. Our eyes see his Divine Form. Our ears listen to his Divine Name and deeds etc. We also employ our action organs (movements of hands, movements of legs, movement of vocal chords (speech) etc., to reach God through daily worship and chanting His Name and other prayers.

In Mukunda Mala, Kulasekhara Alwar puts this very beautifully. Jihve keertaya Kesavam – My tongue! Sing the praise of Kesava! Muraripum cheto bhaja – My mind! Always think of the Enemy of the demon Mura! Sridharam panidwandva samarcha – My pair of hands! Worship Sridhara! Achyuta kathaha srotra dwayam tvam srunu – My pair of ears! Listen to the stories of Achyuta! Krishanm lokaya lochana dwaye – My pair eyes! Behold Krishna! Harergachanghriyugmaalayam – My pair of feet! Go to Hari’s abode! Jighra ghraana Mukunda paada tulaseem – My nose! Smell the fragrance of tulasi at Mukunda’s feet! Moordha nama Adhokshajam – My head! Bow to Adhokshaja!
It must be known to us that we know through sense organs and all this information is stored as inner mental world in us. We get our thoughts and feelings based on this accumulated information. If we accumulate mundane information we get thoughts about mundane matters. If we accumulate sensual information we get sensual thoughts. If we accumulate information about God and Divinity we get thoughts about God and Divinity. We also act and react through action organs (hands, legs, speech etc.,) depending on the information known through sense organs and accumulated within us. This inner mental world with information about outside world has already been formed in us since our infancy.

We can consciously change this inner mental world by rewriting on available information the information about God and Divinity. This, we can do by employing our sense organs as described and accumulate Divine Information. Then we automatically get pleasant and blissful thoughts and feelings. That is how our Elders have started the tradition of Bhakti in which all our faculties and organs are involved with Divinity.

A simple sloka from Mukunda Mala like, Namaami naaraayan pada pankajam (I salute to the lotus feet of Narayana) Karomi naraayana poojanam sada (I always do the worship of Narayana) Vadaami narayaana nama nirmalam (I always utter the crystal pure name of Narayana) Smaraami narayana tatvam avyayam (I always contemplate on the Unchanging nature of Narayana) causes communion with the Lord.
We can accumulate information like this about our favorite Deity.

In Sivananda Lahari Sri Sankraacharya says:

Amkolam nijabija santati ayaskantopalam suchika Saadhvi naija vibhum lata kshitiruham sindhussaritvallabham Praapnoteeha yatha tatha pasupatehe padaaravinda dwayam Cheto vrittihi upetya tisthati sada sa bhaktirituchyate

Meaning: Just as the seeds of Amkola tree stuck to it again, iron needle is attracted to magnet, youthful woman reaches her husband, creeper entwines the tree, and the river flows into the sea, so an individual is attracted to and reaches Pasupati’s (Siva’s) feet.

Bhakti is state of cessation of working or/and absorption in the Self of antahkarnas (inner mental tools - manas, buddhi, chittam and ahamkaram) and resting thus always. Many more beautiful expressions about bhakti are available in our literature. The most famous bhaktas (devotees) are spread throughout our country. Some names are : The alwars and nayanamars of Tamil country; Chaitanya Maha Prabhu, Jayadeva, Tukaram, Sakkubai, Purandaradasa, Annamayya, Ramadasa, Kabir, Suradas, Haridas, Meerabai, Kshetrayya, Narayanateertha, Sadasivebrahmendra, Tyagaraja and many such eminent personalities. This is all saguna bhkti.

Let us see nirguna bhakti. Swaswaroopa anusandhanaam bhakti iti abhidheeyate– is a famous nirguna definition of bhakti. This has interesting implications. Bhakti is tuning ourselves to our original state and form the state of Saanta Rasa. This original state (rasa sthiti) is the state of bliss, peace and silence. In these experience states, our identity as the individual is merged in the Real Identity that is - ego, time and thought transcending state of mind. This happens when we contemplate about spiritual expressions and arrive at the destination i.e., rasa sthiti. This approach is the path of artha bhaavanam (contemplation on the meaning). When we understand we experience. When we experience we understand.

Experience and understanding are simultaneous. The experience of meanings and senses of uttered (heard) sounds and sentences or comprehension of Divine Utterances and their implications makes us reach the tatpara (absorbed and being one with tat (Divinity) or taatparya (purport or import or rasa) state of language. We must be aware that we use the same mind to learn and master the languages and rest of the disciplines as we use for doing our tasks in daily life.

The state of thoughts or feelings is known as vibhakti state of mind. We all know that vibhakti is case forms, endings and terminations in the theory of language. Patanjali and Bhartruhari have initiated, nurtured and developed a theory of language acquisition and communication making use of the same Advaita concept of Vedantins. This will be dealt with in another article.

Bhakti thus is description of devotion to favorite Deity and also the essential part and essence of the theory of language.


More by :  Dr. Varanasi Ramabrahmam

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