Prem or Bhakti is intense love or highest form of devotion to God. There is not a bit of effort. There is a genuine, natural, spontaneous longing to meet God in the heart. Just as fish cannot live without water, just as the sun-flower cannot live without the sun, just as the chaste wife cannot live without her husband, so also a true Bhakta cannot live without God even for a moment.
Physical love is passion or Moha. Universal Love is Divine Love. Cosmic Love, Visva Prem, Universal Love are all synonymous terms. God is Love. Love is God. Selfishness, greed, egoism, vanity, pride, jealousy and anger contract the heart and stand in the way of developing Universal Love.
Just as taking of food brings Tushti (satisfaction), Pushti (nourishment to the body) and cessation of hunger, so also Bhakti brings Vairagya and Jnana.
No development of Prem or Bhakti is possible without right conduct (Sadachara). Just as a disease can be cured by medicine as well as dietetic adjustment, so also realisation of God can be had by devotion and Sadachara. Bhakti is the medicine. Sadachara represents dietetic adjustment or Pathya.
What is Sadachara then? To speak the truth, to practise Ahimsa, not to hurt the feelings of others in thought, word and deed, not to speak harsh words to anyone, not to show any anger towards anybody, not to abuse others or speak ill of others and to see God in all living beings is Sadachara. If you abuse anyone, if you hurt the feelings of others, really you are abusing yourself and hurting the feelings of God only. Himsa (injuring) is a deadly enemy of Bhakti and Jnana. It separates and divides. It stands in the way of realising unity or oneness of Self. You begin to injure others the moment you forget to see God in others.
Make hay while the sun shines. Winnow the corn while the wind blows. Sow the spiritual seeds when you are young. In old age you will have no strength of body and mind to do rigorous Sadhana.
That from which this universe has evolved, That in which this universe subsists and That in which this universe involves should be understood as Brahman, Atman or God or Supreme Being.
That in which there is neither East nor West, neither light nor darkness should be understood as Brahman.
The highest end of human existence than gaining which there is no greater gain, than whose bliss there is no greater bliss, than knowing which there is no higher knowledge-that should be understood as Svaroopa or Brahman or God.
A drunkard is not one who drinks liquors, but one who is intoxicated with the pride of wealth, power, position, rank, intelligence and false learning from books and passion. A blind man is not one who is not able to see with these physical eyes, but one who is not able to perceive the One Imperishable Essence “Avinasi Vastu” that is seated equally in all these beings through the inner eye of intuition or Divya Chakshus. A dead man is not one whose Pranas have departed from his physical body, but one who spends his life in eating, drinking and sleeping only and who is not doing worship of God for his liberation.
There are two ways for attaining God-Consciousness. They are the Pravritti Marga and Nivritti Marga. Pravritti Marga is the path of action or Karma Yoga. Nivritti Marga is the path of renunciation or Jnana Yoga.
Let me say a word on practical Sadhana. The Sastras are endless; there is much to be known; time is short, obstacles are many; That which is the Essence should be grasped, just as the swan does in the case of milk mixed with water.
Excerpts from “Practice of Bhakti Yoga” by Swami Sivananda