Hallmarks of true devotion

Source: The Hindu (http://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/religion/hallmarks-of-true-devotion/article7593336.ece)

Scriptures and the Puranas describe many forms of worship or upasanas, practices and prayers that help to foster bhakti. The most vital aspect in bhakti is the absolute humility with which a jivatma approaches the Supreme Lord. This is stressed unequivocally by Kapila in his teaching, pointed out Swami Paramasukananda in a lecture.

This bhava comes with the knowledge that all one’s material and physical possessions in this life, and even one’s faculties of thought, word and action, one’s relations in this world, etc, are all given by God. The truth that none can own any of these as his own frees one from the delusion of I and Mine. The all knowing God looks for the offering of the immortal self within each jivatma, an offering that transcends the material and ostentation in the worship. Even a leaf, flower, fruit or a drop of water is acceptable to the Lord if only the jivatma truly loves Him for His sake and desires to belong to Him at all times is what Krishna asserts.

Worship done with the sense of ego, that is, any offering made with the feeling that I am giving this to God, cannot be true bhakti. Likewise worship done in the name of religion or any God with a sense of dogma is also not acceptable to God and true bhakti does not endorse enmity, prejudice or violence in any form. Worship performed with elaborate austerities and ostentation fails if the spirit of friendliness, compassion, consideration and respect is lacking. Kapila condemns this as wasted effort that goes against dharma and is equal to pouring ghee on the burnt ashes. A person, who dishonours people around him and lacks the broadmindedness to accept the abiding self of the Lord in all beings, is not eligible for doing puja.

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