Do you have Deities at home?
Many times, the concept of Bhakti Yoga is taken lightly. With just adopting an outer attire and appearance of a devotee, many times people conclude, that they have become class “A” devotees of the Lord. Little do people realize that Bhakti Yoga is a 24/7 act of the mind. If one were to take a cup of oil and go once round the world without spilling the oil, that effort is somewhere close to the effort of attaining deep attachment towards the Lord. How easy or difficult is it to carry a cup of oil round the world? There may be so many situations in which one can lose balance or shall come across disturbance due to which the oil can spill. Have we wondered what amount of patience and forbearance is required to complete the task? Can we imagine as to how much one has to become one-pointed to attain the task? Going round the world may take several years. The height is that, as we circumambulate we may even lose our original goal. We may very easily forget, what we had set out to achieve. In the same manner Bhakti Yoga is a life-long endeavor, which cannot take one to perfection just by following some practices for some time.
The heart of Bhakti Yoga, is the involvement of the mind. Mind is behind all the major processes. Mind is supported by the senses which take information from the sense-objects and pass them on to the mind for further integration and processing. If the mind is weak, then no Yoga shall work, since the mind has not developed stability to commit itself to the practices of Yoga. Although humans are the most superior beings in terms of their ability to achieve their final goal of liberation, humans are also the most vulnerable in terms of discipline or stability, when it comes to attaining “spiritual goals”. Most humans on the planet work with a reptilian mindset. Reptiles are only bothered about eating, sleeping, mating and defending. This mindset is not suitable for any form of Yoga. Unless there is a certain expansion of consciousness, Yoga can never be anyone’s goal. The ones who are inspired to taking up Bhakti Yoga, are fortunate. However this does not qualify one to attain the goal. There has to be an effort to employ the mind in the right way. One has to understand that the mind is a corrupted piece of device that has been stuck with the soul from beginningless time. This being the case, the mind also becomes an extremely obstinate piece of animal, which shall not tolerate, instructions given to it. When someone comes to the conclusion that one has to take up Bhakti, this itself happens as a matter of Grace and Higher Will. No one can take up Bhakti without the sanction of the Lord. The command to take up Bhakti comes to the mind from higher intelligence, a higher authority which is the result of some merit of previous life times, on the part of the individual. Hence one cannot assume that the mind shall relent and take up Bhakti. The mind takes the first opportunity to push-back and tries to divert the individual to other pleasures which the individual is naturally attuned to, as a matter of habit. Thus to develop interest in Bhakti and implementing Bhakti as Yoga in one’s life, are two totally different things.
As discussed earlier, the mind is always at loggerheads with our intention to perform Bhakti. The first step shall be to purify the mind and the senses. Unless this happens, Bhakti cannot take root in the mind. This is perhaps the most difficult aspects of Bhakti. Since our mind carries millions of impressions, it is used to thinking of worldly matters, inconsequential events and remains busy in suit of unending train of thoughts, hundreds of them, without a break, throughout the day. Our mind, hence is a repository of unwanted junk, which has to be flushed out, purged, consciously, by scientifically employing Bhakti Yoga. Now, just a patient of high diabetes has to consciously avoid taking starch and fat. A student of Bhakti Yoga likewise, has to avoid all that which gives pleasure to the mind or senses. For example if I like to watch movies and now I have decided to take up Bhakti Yoga as a serious practice, I have to consciously refrain from watching movies. By doing this we are cutting out the supply that triggers unwanted thoughts. However this is not sufficient. Just as there are withdrawal symptoms when one suddenly stops cigarettes, when we stop giving in to the mind, its regular dozes of gratification, it will revolt and instead of calming down, it increases dissatisfaction, frustration and agitation in the heart. Hence withdrawal should be complemented by aspects in alignment with Bhakti Yoga. One should then consciously create a routine of meeting highly evolved saints in the field of Bhakti Yoga. Highly evolved souls have conquered their minds with spiritual energy. When our mind gets involved with these superior beings, in their association our minds shall start shedding its dross, automatically, because of “higher interference”. We shall slowly start getting interested in holy subjects. The mind’s flow gets slowly diverted. But for this to come to effect, one needs to make it a part of one’s regular routine. Discipline is the key. As one associates with seers and sages, one should follow their instructions and assimilate the teachings of the pure scriptures such as Bhagavad Gita and the Srimad Bhagavatham. The heart of Bhakti yoga is the soaking of the mind conclusively in the thoughts of God, to the exclusion of all else. The perfection of Bhakti Yoga is only evidenced when one has completely withdrawn from the activities of the world and the mind is flowing like oil without bubbles or gap, towards the Lord and His activities. Attainment of Bhakti means to see all the activities of the world as one’s service to the Lord with complete abnegation of welfare, profit or interest in the world, without any expectation of anything whatsoever from the world. Bhakti Yoga is promoted only through the mood of satisfying the Lord at all costs, even if it means surrendering one’s all for His pleasure. All this can manifest only once the devilish mind has been purged, purified and re-diverted to the Lord. Although Bhakti Yoga has been praised as one of the easiest among all Yoga forms, it stands today as a mammoth form of deliberated, sustained and concentrated practice which only a few committed ones of the world can undertake in the true spirit of Yoga.