Source : http://www.thehindu.com/society/faith/kinds-of-devotion/article18788328.ece
There are different kinds of devotion to God and we see examples of both Seshatva and Paratantriya in the Ramayana. Seshatva is to not let anything stand in the way of the desire to serve God. Lakshmana wanted to accompany Lord Rama to the forest. Rama tried His best to make Lakshmana stay back in Ayodhya. But Lakshmana refused to be dissuaded by the Lord.
Lakshmana was keen to be with Rama and serve Him at all times. So he was prepared to refuse to obey the Lord’s request. This is an example of Seshatva, said Kidambi Narayanan in a discourse. Nammazhvar too wanted only to serve the Lord and prayed for this.
But Bharata was in a different category. No doubt he too wanted certain things, namely the return of Rama to Ayodhya and the assumption of kingship by Rama. But when Rama said He would not come back to Ayodhya and ordered Bharata to go back to the city and rule as king, Bharata implicitly obeyed his brother. He did not think of himself. He did not insist that Rama go along with what he (Bharata) wanted. This is an example of Paratantriya.
While other Azhvars prayed for being rid of repeated births and for the chance to serve the Lord, Periazhvar only sang for the Lord’s welfare, thereby demonstrating bhakti, which asks for nothing.
Paratantriya is when a person simply obeys the Lord and does not act on his own or for his pleasure.
Suppose a person possesses a doll, decorates it and looks at it thinking how beautiful it looks. Does this act of decorating give any joy to the doll? If a man who has grown saplings in his field transplants them, it is because they are under his control.
So being controlled by another superior being and not acting volitionally is Paratantriya.
Source : http://www.gitadaily.com/see-temptation-as-an-attack-not-as-a-defeat-or-even-as-a-precursor-to-defeat/
Suppose soldiers guarding the national border against a hostile neighbour find bullets whizzing past them. Naturally, they will see the bullets as signs of attack and start counter-attacking.
When we start practicing spiritual life, we enter into a war against the forces of illusion, which attack primarily with the bullets of temptation. So, the rising of temptation inside us is an attack. Unfortunately, if we don’t understand the dynamics of the inner war, we see it as a defeat. We think, “I am so fallen as to have this desire. Its presence shows that I can’t follow spiritual standards. Now that the desire has come, let me just give in to it.” By so doing, we become like soldiers who lay down their arms at the sight of the first bullets.
But such capitulation is utterly unnecessary. The Bhagavad-gita (05.23) urges us to anticipate the lifelong presence of desire and anger. Rather than deeming their presence as a spiritual disqualification, it exhorts us to tolerate them by yoga practice.
Just as gallant soldiers determinedly return hostile fire, we can become spiritually gallant when temptation attacks and return fire by striving to intensify our bhakti practice, thus becoming absorbed in Krishna. Such absorption provides higher satisfaction, thereby increasing our resistance to the pleasure with which temptation allures and attacks.
Moreover, bhakti-yoga grants satisfaction not just through absorption but also through connection. That is, we can taste spiritual satisfaction not just at the end of the war when we are fully absorbed in Krishna but also in the thick of the war when we strive to connect with him through remembrance and service.
If temptation spurs us to increase our focus on Krishna, then it becomes not the precursor of defeat, but the prompter to victory.
Source : http://www.gitadaily.com/in-the-war-of-egos-the-winner-is-the-bigger-loser/
When people disagree on an issue, the disagreement sometimes degenerates into a war of egos, where the issues are pushed into the background. People obsess on proving that they are right, not on determining what is right. In such arguments, the winners often end up as bigger losers.
Those who lose such an argument may be seen by the world as losers. But in the long run, those people grow and flourish who are ready to revise their understanding when necessary, who have the humility to learn what is right. The Bhagavad-gita (13.08) indicates that humility is the first of the twenty characteristics of those in knowledge. This implies that humility is the doorway to knowledge – those who have humility learn and grow. Those who prove that they are right even when they aren’t, bang shut the door of humility. They lock themselves outside the house of knowledge, in the arena of illusion.
The notion that one can do no wrong, that one’s view is the right view, that one’s view is, in fact, the only right view – that is essentially the notion that one is God.
So, when discussions start becoming ego issues, best to bow out and thus stay out of illusion.
Source : http://www.thehindu.com/society/faith/the-lords-kindness/article18572297.ece
In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna talks of three yogas that lead to moksha — karma, bhakti and jnana. But the Gopikas did not observe any of these paths, and yet were liberated. That is because of their intense love for Lord Krishna. The Lord did not take into account their lack of jnana, but was impressed by their attachment to Him, said M.A. Venkatakrishnan in a discourse. The Lord is kindly disposed towards everyone. But we are so undeserving of His kindness that despite His efforts to reach out to us, we still remain unliberated.
In His abode, the Supreme One is waited on by all those who have attained liberation and yet the Lord is unhappy, because there are many more on this earth who haven’t yet been liberated. So He searches out people to whom He can grant liberation under one pretext or another. If someone utters His name in one of the towns where a temple of His is located, He takes that as worship of Him and looks favourably upon that person. Or if someone accidentally does some good to a devotee, that too begins to count in his favour.
Suppose a devotee is out on the road and there is an unbeliever walking beside him. The unbeliever is armed with a stout stick. Suppose a man who had planned to waylay the devotee is frightened, supposing that the non-believer is there to protect the devotee, then the non believer gets a merit simply by having saved the devotee, albeit unintentionally!
Suppose you rub gold to test its quality and decide to gather the resulting gold dust. It will take you a long time to get some substantial gold from the accumulated dust.
In the same way, the Lord patiently gathers points in our favour to ultimately liberate us, like a man who collects gold dust.
Source : http://www.thehindu.com/society/faith/the-end-and-the-means/article18490302.ece
Bhakti in its highest form is itself a Purushartha, a fifth one added on to the four usually accepted values of Dharma, righteousness, Artha, wealth, Kama, pleasure and Moksha, liberation.
This is the crux of the teaching in the Bhagavata Purana and it is shown how a devotee’s entire being is filled with intense love for God and with a desire to serve Him at all times. This in itself becomes the highest delight for him, and is extolled as Prema Bhakti, pointed out Sri B. Damodhara Dikshitar in a discourse.
Prema bhakti is often compared to a mother’s selfless love for a child when her entire concentration governs the way she takes care of the child at all times.
Great devotees such as Narada and Uddhava see the Gopis’ love for Krishna as an expression of the highest form of devotion. It is a state of mind that even yogis and sages steeped in meditation find it hard to attain. Each one has to work his way in this effort. Devotional practices such as offering worship in temples, or engaging in prayer in one’s home, or singing the names of the Lord, individually or in a group, are means towards cultivating intense and selfless love for God. There is no room for ostentation or outward show in this path where bhakti is an end in itself and is also the means. The only criterion is sincerity and genuine love to the Lord.
None can know the mind of a devotee better than the Lord for He is the in-dweller in each and every aspect of creation. Unique are the ways in which He responds to each one of them.
Is not Vidhura overwhelmed when Krishna chooses to have food in his humble abode in preference to the hospitality of Duryodhana and others? What a divine vision is granted to the devout Akrura?
Source : http://www.thehindu.com/society/faith/staunch-devotion-the-key/article18475184.ece
Immediately after the revelation of His cosmic form, Krishna explains to Arjuna that only through unswerving devotion to Him can He be known and realised. “He who does work for Me, he who looks upon Me as his goal, he who worships Me free from attachment, who is free from enmity to all creatures, he goes to Me.”
Adi Sankara, in his commentary on the Gita, shows that this statement reflects the essence of the entire Gita teaching, pointed out Sri K. Ramasubramania Sarma in a discourse. It clearly teaches whatever one has to imbibe and practise in life, namely, that one who leads life with his mind fixed on God at all times and remains devoted to Him automatically reaches the goal.
The answer to Arjuna’s doubt regarding the relative merits of jnana and karma is provided here. The two paths are not mutually exclusive and intersect very often and only when being practised one realises this truth. Spiritual knowledge has nothing to do with theoretical or empirical learning or intellectual attainments. It is the direct and intuitive experience or vision of the Absolute Reality. For some it is felt as a moment of illumination in the inner recesses of one’s understanding which soon gets submerged in the rising waves of worldly experiences.
In the case of Arjuna, the vision of the cosmic form of the Lord confers an understanding of the grand design of creation in which all beings subsist in the cycle of birth, growth and death in a somewhat endless manner. But the Lord makes it clear that beholding the vision, which is itself a divine gift, is not attainment of the goal. This vision should help one to gain a permanent experience of the divine truth. Such an awareness that forms the backbone of one’s existence is possible only to one who has staunch devotion to the Lord.