Bhakti Yoga for Beginners
Many times, the concept of Bhakti Yoga is taken lightly. By just adopting an outer attire of a devotee, people feel that they have become class “A” devotees of the Lord. Little do they realize that Bhakti Yoga is a 24/7 act of the mind.
Carrying a cup of oil around the world without spilling a single drop is somewhere close to the effort of developing deep attachment towards the Lord. How easy or difficult is it to carry a cup of oil round the world? One may encounter so many situations that can disturb the balance and spill the oil.
Have we wondered the amount of patience and forbearance required to complete the task? Can we imagine the level of concentration needed to fulfil the task? Going round the world may take several years.
The irony is that, as we circumambulate, we may even forget the purpose of our travel. We may forget the goal, we had set out to achieve. Similarly, Bhakti Yoga is a life-long endeavor. It cannot promise perfection by following some temporary practices.
How are Mind and Bhakti connected?
The heart of Bhakti Yoga is the involvement of the mind. Mind is behind all the major processes.
Mind is supported by the senses. Senses take information from sense-objects and pass them on to the mind for further integration and processing. If the mind is weak, no Yoga shall work. First, The mind must develop stability to commit itself to the practices of Yoga.
Why are people not serious about Bhakti?
Although humans are superior beings in their ability to achieve their final goal of liberation, yet they slacken in discipline when it comes to “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 detrimental 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 take up Bhakti Yoga, are fortunate. However this does not qualify one to attain the goal.
Mind trouble during bhakti sadhana
There has to be an effort to employ the mind in the right way. Know that the mind is a corrupted piece of device stuck with the soul from beginningless time. It becomes an extremely obstinate piece of animal, which doesn’t tolerate, instructions given to it.
When someone decides to take up Bhakti, this is a result 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. This move is the result of some merit of previous life times, done by the individual. Hence one cannot assume that the mind shall relent and take up Bhakti. The mind takes the first opportunity to push-back. It tries to divert the individual to other pleasures enjoyed by the individual, as a matter of habit. Thus, having interest in Bhakti and implementing Bhakti as Yoga in life, are two different things. The mind is always at loggerheads with our resolve to perform Bhakti.
Why is it essential to purify the mind?
The first step is to purify the mind and 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. It remains busy in an unending train of thoughts, hundreds of them, without a break, throughout the day. Our mind is a repository of unwanted junk, which has to be flushed out, consciously, by scientifically employing Bhakti Yoga.
Self-abstinence during Sadhana
Now, a patient of high diabetes must consciously avoid taking starch and fat. Likewise, A student of Bhakti Yoga has to avoid all that which gives pleasure to the mind or senses.
For example, I like to watch movies and have now decided to take up Bhakti as a serious practice. I must 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 only suddenly stopping cigarettes, when we stop giving the mind, its regular dozes of gratification, it will revolt, instead of calming down. Dissatisfaction levels and frustration shall increase.
How to tame the mind with Bhakti methods?
Withdrawal should be complemented by aspects in alignment with Bhakti Yoga. One should 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. In the association of higher beings our minds shall naturally start shedding its dross because of “higher interference”.
We shall slowly start getting interested in holy subjects. The mind’s flow gets slowly diverted. But for this to work, one needs to make it a part of one’s regular routine. Discipline is the key. While associating with sages, one should follow their instructions. It is also essential to assimilate the teachings of pure scriptures like the Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagavatham.
The True mood of Bhakti Yoga
The heart of Bhakti yoga is soaking the mind exclusively in the thoughts of God. Perfection of Bhakti Yoga is when one completely withdraws from the activities of the world. The mind should flow like oil without bubbles or gaps towards the Lord and his activities. Attainment of Bhakti means to see all worldly activities as service to the Lord, completely abnegating welfare, profit or interest in the world.
There should be no 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 amongst all Yoga forms, it stands today as a mammoth form of concentrated practice which only a few committed ones can truly undertake.
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