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

Evolution for Everybody

swami sivanandaSadhanas (practice) differ according to the stage of evolution, the strength of ego, weaknesses and the nature of the lower Self. A strong and sturdy constitution and a fine health are in themselves a good qualification for the student. All other qualifications can be developed when one is placed in favourable environments. In the spiritual path any type of student can progress and evolve if he is endowed with Sraddha, sincerity and faith. There is no need for special talents or qualification. There is no need also for a deep study for years and Japa on one leg for decades. A willing, loving heart is what is needed. The student must have a new angle of vision and try to crush the ego at each step by discipline, discrimination and dispassion. Charge the mind with Divine Consciousness through constant Japa, prayers and systematic meditation.

Sri Swami Sivananda

Ram Dass Speaks of Practice

Ram Dass“Just because you are seeing divine light, experiencing waves of bliss, or conversing with Gods and Goddesses is no reason to not know your zip code.”

“Our journey is about being more deeply involved in Life and yet less attached to it.”

“I can do nothing for you but work on myself…you can do nothing for me but work on yourself!”

“We’re being trained through our incarnations–trained to seek love, trained to seek light, trained to see the grace in suffering.”

“In mystical traditions, it is one’s own readiness that makes experiences exoteric or esoteric.
The secret isn’t that you’re not being told.
The secret is that you’re not able to hear.”

“Spiritual practices help us move from identifying with the ego to identifying with the soul. Old age does that for you too. It spiritualizes people naturally.”

“All spiritual practices are illusions created by illusionists to escape illusion.”

“The Ego is an exquisite instrument. Enjoy it, use it–just don’t get lost in it.”

– Ram Dass