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Gospel of Love by Swami Sivananda

swami sivanandaWho Is God?

He is the womb for the Vedas. Indra, Agni, Varuna, Vayu and Yama are His assistants. Earth, water, fire, air and ether are His five powers. Maya is His illusive Sakti. Brahma, Vishnu and Siva are the three aspects of God. Brahma is the creative aspect; Vishnu is the preservative aspect; and Siva is the destructive aspect.
There are three other aspects: Virat is the manifested aspect; Hiranyagarbha is the immanent aspect; and Isvara is the causal aspect. Virat is the sum total of all
physical bodies; Hiranyagarbha is the sum total of all minds – He is the cosmic mind; and Isvara is the sum total of all causal bodies (Karana Sarira).
Srishti (creation), Sthiti (preservation), Samhara (destruction), Tirodhana or Tirobhava (veiling), and Anugraha (grace) are the five kinds of activities of God.
He is the Prana in body, and intelligence in Antahkarana.
Earth denotes His all-supporting nature. Water proclaims,the message of His purity and sanctit5r. Fire indicates His self-luminous nature. Air signifies His omnipotence. Ether heralds His all-pervading nature. Maya is under His perfect control. This is the Upadhi or subtle body of Isvara.
He dwells in your heart. He is in you and you are in Him. This body is His moving temple. ‘The sanctum sanctorum is the chambers of your own heart. Close your eyes. Withdraw your Indriyas from the sensual objects. Search Him there with one-pointed mind, devotion and pure love. You will surely find Him. He is waiting there with outstretched arms to embrace you. If you cannot find Him there, you cannot find Him anywhere else. Taste the nectar of God-consciousness which alone is the summum bonum of human life and human endeavor.

God Is Immanent

God is an absentee landlord of this world. He is hiding Himself within these objects. He is remaining within these objects. He is the Indweller and inter-penetrating Presence or Essence or Substance, the intelligent and creative principle of the universe itself.
Just as oil is hidden in seed, butter in milk, mind in brain, foetus in the womb, sun behind the clouds, fire in wood, sugar or salt in water, scent in buds, sound in the gramophonic records, gold in quarts, microbes in blood, so also God is hidden in all these beings and forms.
God becomes a slave of His devotees. Lord Krishna says: “l am not in My control. I am under the complete control of My Bhaktas. They have taken entire possession of My heart. How can I leave them when they have renounced everything for My sake only?”

What is Bhakti?

It is pure, unselfish, divine love or Suddha Prem. It is love for love’s sake. There is not a bit of bargaining or expectation of anything here. This higher feeling is indescribable in words. It has to be sincerely experienced by the devotee. Bhakti is a sacred, higher emotion with sublime sentiments that unites the devotees with the Lord.

Fruits of Bhakti

Bhakti softens the heart and removes jealousy, hatred, lust, anger, egoism, pride and arrogance. It infuses joy, divine ecstasy, bliss, peace and knowledge. All cares, worries and anxieties, fears, mental torments and tribulations entirely vanish. Love for God is as sweet as nectar by tasting which one becomes immortal. One who lives, moves and has his being in God becomes immortal.

Four Grades of Bhakti

The four grades of Bhakti are tender emotion, warm affection, glowing love and burning passion; or admiration for God, attraction, attachment and supreme love.

Characteristics of a Bhakta

A devotee has equal vision for all. He has no enmity for anybody. He has exemplary character. He has no attachment for anybody, place or thing. He has not got the idea of “mine-ness”. He has a balanced state of mind in pain and pleasure, heat and cold, praise and censure. He regards money as pieces of stone. He has neither anger nor lust. He regards all ladies as his own sisters or mother. The name of Hari is always on his lips. He has always inner life or Antarmukha Vritti. He is full of Shanti and Joy.
“These blessed Bhaktas sometimes weep in loving memory of God, sometimes they laugh, sometimes rejoice, sometimes they talk mysterious things that are transcendental, sometimes they dance in divine ecstasy that is simply indescribable, sometimes they sing melodiously His praises and Glory, sometimes they imitate the actions of Lord and sometimes they sit quiet and enjoy the highest bliss of the Self.” (Srimad Bhagauatam)

Excerpts from “Practice of Bhakti Yoga” by Swami Sivananda

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