Many sages have observed that Bhakti is the fastest route to enlightenment or Mukti, a feeling of completeness that frees us up from suffering. That’s my personal experience as well. Taking the path of Bhakti combined with self-improvement techniques, daily meditations, and routine Sadhana had put me on a fast-track spiritual growth.
Speaking the raw truth, without any exaggeration — within a decade, I’ve gone from being suicidal in depression to living in a state of Samadhi, union with the Divine. While I don’t aspire for or have the Mantra Siddhi to become a rainmaker like my beloved Swami, I have some Siddhi-s that help me transform a few lives. Further, my thoughts materialize like magic, making my life almost a breeze.
Nevertheless, there’s a catch here: Bhakti isn’t as easy as it sounds for a scientific mind. Most people struggle even to accept it intellectually. Forget about experiencing it or using it for your self-transformation! I’m trying to give a pragmatic view of this concept in this post. It’s as absurd as trying to explain love in words, but I’ll still go ahead and try.
The Foundation of Bhakti
In the Tulsi Moksham story, Vedavati acquires knowledge and then establishes her relationship with her Divine. She looks upon Lord Vishnu as her husband and even leaves home to become a renunciate for the purpose.
In Bhakti, we can view the Divine in many sentiments or Bhaav. A few common ones are:
- A Sovereign: Maintaining this attitude of being a humble servant to the Divine is known as Daasyam.
- A Guru: Here, we consider the Divine our Guru, whom we look up to as a parent. Sometimes, we may see a person as a Guru, who strives to lead us to our Ishta or favorite Divine.
- A Child: This is the attitude that Yashoda, Lord Krishna’s foster mother, showed to him. A protective motherly (or fatherly) attitude towards the Divine.
- A Friend: A bond of friendship with the Divine, as Arjuna had with Krishna, known as Sakhyam in Sanskrit.
- A Spouse: A lover, whom we have given a label. For example, Bhakt Meera looked upon Krishna as her husband. We can add Rukmini and all the wives of Krishna here as examples.
- A Beloved: Someone we love unconditionally without any labels.
Like all rivers merge into the ocean, all of the above lead to one final stage. That’s known as Atma Nivedanam or complete surrender to the Divine in Bhakti. As a side note, I started with Sakhyam, but today I view the Divine as my Beloved, without any labels.
The Desperation for The Divine
My favorite character, the village simpleton Bholu, felt desperate to see a form of the Divine. He did as many austerities as possible, but the Divine didn’t show up.
Bholu set out to find a Guru who could help him in the process. He found a radiant-looking sage sitting peacefully in an Ashram.
Bholu said to the sage, “I wish to see the Divine. Now. Please.”
“That’s not how things work, my son. Some have waited lifetimes for it,” the sage replied.
“You look radiant. I can see the Divine if you initiate me,” Bholu said smartly.
“Even that won’t generate magical results,” the sage said with non-attachment.
“I must see the Divine now,” Bholu pestered.
The sage got up in a hurry, held the back of Bholu’s neck, and pulled him towards a nearby river. Before Bholu could react, the sage shoved Bholu’s head into the water.
Taken aback by this rude behavior of the sage, Bholu felt angry. However, he was out of breath, due to which he became dysfunctional. A few moments later, the sage let Bholu free to breathe.
“Why did you do that? That was mean,” Bholu cried.
Ignoring his words, the sage asked, “Now tell me, what were you thinking when you almost died out-of-breath?”
“Air! What else?”
“You wanted air when you went out-of-breath, and your life came to a full stop. The day you feel your life is out-of-breath without the Divine, come back to me. I’ll show you the Divine,” the sage said to Bholu.
For most people, God is just a concept. A representation of some higher power that they revere. Hence, many consider me crazy when I say that I’ve seen the Divine in a form! A more common accusation is that I am hallucinating. I wish to ask these people a question or two. As follows:
- Numerous sages have documented their vision of the Divine. That has happened over many centuries, with Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda being the most famous. My mentor Om Swami has seen the Divine. A couple of his advanced disciples have experienced the same too. If I’m hallucinating and speaking lies, are all of those people also lying?
- Science says that when we drill deeper into an object, all we find is energy packets. If solid-looking things have nothing but energy, why can’t the reverse — energy taking a solid form — be possible? Isn’t that the very idea of the Big Bang theory, that some void or energy broke out into matter to form this universe?
- Scientists a few centuries earlier believed that the earth was flat. They would’ve laughed if we mentioned that the world was round and we’re sticking to it like pins stuck on a ball. Today, we know that’s the truth. Maybe a few people are experiencing something that science has yet to prove or discover — that energy can take forms under certain conditions?
- Faith is the basis of science because, without a hypothesis, there is no research study! Similarly, faith that the Divine Energy can take a form, at will, is the basis of Bhakti. If we negate a theory even before validating it, how can we prove it or experience it?
Bhakti is real. The Divine Energy can take a form — that’s also real. I, in my sane mind, vouch for it. However, we can only experience that Divine when:
- We have faith that the Divine can take a form.
- We feel unconditional love for the Divine.
- We treat everyone around us with utmost compassion (for no reason).
- We work for the sake of working, without any aspirations or desires.
- We live our lives and do Sadhana with the attitude of surrender.
- We become out-of-breath without the Divine.
When you get there, go to my beloved Swami. If he isn’t available, meet the Divine Sri Hari at Sri Badrika Ashram. Even if that doesn’t work out, lock yourself in a room for a few hours each day and focus on the Divine. Then, you’ll see the Divine for yourself, as I did!
Om Sri Hari!
During my initial days with him, Swami said, “Give me a decade of your time, and I will turn you around.” I first exchanged emails with him in Nov 2012. This year, Nov 2022 to be precise, marks a decade of my time with him. I gave my 200% to self-transformation during this decade. Without any doubt, he has kept his word to me.
Thank you, my Swami. Words end when I try to explain my feelings for you. So, all I have to say is: I love you, my beloved Swami!