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How to develop Bhakti

Swami SivanandaThe following nine modes of worship (Navavidha Bhakti) will develop Bhakti:
– Sravana (hearing the Lilas of God);
– Kirtana (singing His praise);
– Smarana (remembering His Name);
– Padasevana (worshipping His Lotus Feet);
– Archana (offerings);
– Vandana (prostration);
– Dasya (service);
– Sakhya (friendship);
– Atma-nivedana (complete self-surrender).

Throughout the Gita there is a ringing note that surrender and devotion are absolutely necessary for the attainment of God-consciousness. In reality, the nine modes of devotion (Navavidha Bhakti) are reducible to one, viz., Atma-nivedan (complete self-surrender).

Tameva saranam gachha sarvabhavena bharata;
Tatprasadat param santim sthanam prapsyasi sasvatam.
“Flee unto Him for shelter with all thy being, O Bharata; by His Grace thou shalt obtain supreme peace, the everlasting dwelling-place.” (XVIII-62.)

Manmana bhava madbhakto madyajee mam namaskuru;
Mamevaisyasi satyam te pratijane priyosi me.
“Merge thy mind in Me, be My devotee, sacrifice to Me, prostrate thyself before Me, thou shalt come even to Me.” (XVIII-65.)

Sarvadharman parityajya mamekam saranam vraja;
Aham tva sarvapapebhyo mokshayishyami ma suchah.
“Abandoning all duties come unto Me alone for shelter; sorrow not, I liberate thee from all sins.” (XVIII-66.)

Slokas 65 and 66 of Chapter XVIII are the most important Slokas of the Gita. The gist of the teaching of lord Krishna is here. If anyone can live in the true spirit of these Slokas, he will realise the goal of life soon. There is no doubt of this.
The self-surrender must be total, ungrudging and unreserved. You must not keep certain desires for gratification. Mira says: “I have given my whole heart, mind, intellect, soul, my all to my Griridhar Gopal.” This is perfect self-surrender.

Self-surrender does not mean retirement into the forests. It does not mean giving up of all activities. Tamas or inertia is mistaken for self-surrender. This is a sad mistake. What is wanted is internal surrender. The ego and desire must be annihilated. This will constitute real surrender. The Rajasic mind stands obstinate to effect complete self-surrender. Obstinacy is a great obstacle in surrender. The lower nature again and again raises up to assert itself. There is resurrection of desires. Desires get suppressed for some time. Again they manifest with redoubled force.

The lower nature must be thoroughly overhauled. All old, wrong habits must be completely destroyed. Then the surrender becomes complete. Do not make plans and speculations. “Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof.” Keep the mind and the intellect passive. Allow the Divine Will and Grace to work through your mind and Indriyas. Become silent. Feel His Grace and Love and enjoy the the Divine Ecstasy. Be at ease.

Excerpts from “Practice of Bhakti Yoga” by Swami Sivananda

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