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Different Kinds of Bhakti

by Swami Sivananda

If the devotee loves God for some time and loves his wife, son, money, house, cattle and property also, it is Vyabhicharini Bhakti. The love is divided. A portion of the mind is given to God. The remaining portion is given to family and possessions.

What is Avyabhicharini Bhakti? It is undivided love. The devotee loves God and God alone. His mind is ever fixed at the lotus-feet of the Lord alone. The whole mind, heart and soul are given to God. This is Avyabhicharini Bhakti.

If you entertain devotion for getting wealth, son or removal of disease, it is Sakamya Bhakti or Hetuka Bhakti or Gauna Bhakti (secondary devotion).

If you do not want anything from God save his devotion or Prema, it is Nishkamya Bhakti or Ahetuka Bhakti or Ragatmika Bhakti or Mukhya Bhakti (primary devotion).

When a devotee has devotion for Lord Hari, Lord Siva, Devi, Rama, Krishna and thinks that Lord Hari is Siva, Rama, Devi or Krishna, this is Samarasa Bhakti. He has equal vision. This is also the advanced stage of devotion. He makes no difference between Rama and Krishna, between Siva and Hari, between Krishna and Devi. He knows and feels that Radha, Sita and Durga are inseparable Saktis of Lord Krishna, Rama and Siva.

When your wife is young and beautiful, you admire her curly hair, rosy cheeks, fine nose, shining skin and silvery teeth. When she loses her beauty on account of some chronic incurable malady, you are not attracted towards her. You marry a second wife. If you had loved your wife with Atma Bhava, if you had a comprehensive understanding that the Self in you and your wife is the same, your love for her would have been pure, unselfish, lasting, undecaying and unchanging. Just as you love old sugar-candy more and more, so also you would love your wife more and more even when she becomes old, as you have Atma Bhava through Jnana. Jnana will only intensify Prema and make it pure.

The aspirant who worships the idol in the beginning beholds the Lord everywhere and develops Para Bhakti. From Vidhi Bhakti, he passess on the Ragatmika Bhakti or Prema Bhakti. He beholds the whole world as the Lord. The ideas of good and bad, right and wrong, rogue, etc., vanish. He sees the Lord in a rogue, ant, dog, tree, dacoit, cobra, scorpion, log of wood, block of stone, sun, moon, stars, fire, water, earth, etc. His vision or experience baffles description. Glory to such exalted Bhaktas who are veritable Gods on this earth, who live to lift others from the quagmire of Samsara and save them from the clutches of death!

What is Bhagavata Dharma? That which takes you to the Lord, that which enables you to kill your Vasanas, egoism, likes and dislikes is Bhagavata Dharma. That which frees you from the round of births and deaths, that which makes you fearless, desireless and ‘I’-less, is Bhagavata Dharma. That which fills your heart with devotion to Lord Krishna that which enables you to behold the one supreme Tattva, Lord Krishna everywhere is Bhagavata Dharma.

He who sees Narayana only everywhere, who has reduced all things to one, who sees all things in Narayana, who feels His presence everywhere, who has the feeling of oneness, who has melted all differences by looking into the unity at the back of all differences has surely attained perfection. He enjoys perfect peace and bliss. He is a perfect Siddha. He is a perfect Jivanmukta.

The trees, flowers, fire, earth, water, sky, sun, moon, stars, animals, birds, mountains, rivers, oceans, human beings constitute the body of the Lord. You should bow to them all without distinction. You should regard them as God Himself. Then only you will have equal vision and cosmic love. Then only you can find peace. Then only you will find heaven on earth. Sri Tulasidas says: "Sri Sitaram is everywhere. The world is full of Sitaram. Therefore bow with folded hands to each and every object." This is worship of Virat.

Prahlada meditated on his own Self as Lord Hari. This is Abheda Bhakti. This is the advanced stage of devotion.

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