By Sriom Gnanasakthiyendra Swamiji
God and devotee are two important expressions in search of realising one’s soul in Bhakthi Marg. A devotee considers God as a person who is above him; thinks that not an atom moves without the energy from God; engraves God’s names in his mind; chants His name, considers God as a witness for all his actions and invites God whenever he does anything. The greatness of a devotee depends on the relationship between him and God. By Greatness, I mean the thought process of realisation, ability to realise one’s self and the wisdom one gains.
There are people who believe that there is an energy called as God which is beyond us. They believe that God sits somewhere and makes us act. They believe that God makes us act; God is responsible for their happiness and sadness and they need to pray in times of difficulties so that they can get out of their difficulties. There are people who believe there is God who witnesses whatever happens. They believe that the happiness and sadness are caused by their own actions and not by that of God. There are some people who firmly believe that God is within me. So for all various groups of devotees with different thoughts, there are different stages also.
The belief that God is there acts as a self deterrent for a devotee against committing any mistakes. The thought of God disciplines a person, purifies his thoughts and instils love in his minds. If such foundation is strong, only then one can progress well in his spiritual path. A person with devotion mixed with love can understand and realise God. He can realise who he is. When I asked my Guru, how one has to move with God if one has to realise God, he said that one must not have fear for God and one must show love and affection to God with pure thoughts in one’s mind. One cannot become close to God out of fear but can become close with love.
When one approaches God with fear, one cannot develop love for God. Normally a person forgets himself in love. When a person shows such divine love to God, he would forget the world. He would realise himself. When a person has fear for God, his devotion would be like that of a robot. One may do abhishek and decoration to God but would not get the concentration. It is just like doing some work or performing some duties. The relationship to God does not get established. Here we have a feeling that we are doing as we had to do. In case we do not do, we may get punished. So we do those duties with fear. Anything done with fear is not Bhakthi or devotion. A devotion where the soul has to merge with a Paramathma or God can be achieved by love coupled with affection. As the lovers forget the world in their deep love, one’s soul has to merge with that of God. That is the real devotion. We may count our beads while doing Japa but may not able to concentrate. It is just an act. As any job which is done without full mind does not turn out well, Japa done without love and affection cannot be considered as Japa.
One may say that he treats God as his Father or Mother and worships him or her but still God does not do as his father or mother does for him. What is wrong in having such expectations? This may be a question from some devotees. It is an appropriate question. There is nothing wrong in asking also. But at the same time, we must keep one thing in our mind. If we treat ourselves as God’s children, we can categorise the children into three categories. One category of children will demand from parents and take what they want. The second category of children would ask only what they want. They may say ok even if the parents refuse to fulfil children’s desires. The third category of children would not ask for anything from the parents. If the parents give something, he would take it. Sometimes, he may say no to what the parents give. Please select the category of children that you would like with full conscience. One would select the category of children who are happy with whatever given and who does not ask for anything. When we like the third category of children, how can we expect God to do or give what we want him to do or give? How can we be adamant? How can we consider this asking as a good question? When we accept what God gives happily, we think why God did not take care of him when there was some problem in his life? Why must we feel sad? Our parents also give only what we need. Do they give whatever we want? They give only those things which are beneficial and are needed. If something is not good for the children, the parents refuse to give. We call only those parents are good parents. How can we call parents as good parents who give whatever the children want irrespective of whether it is beneficial or not? Sometimes, the parents give something when they are unable to tolerate the trouble the children give. But when the children suffer because of what they give without their full mind, the parents do admonish the children. God also sometimes gives what we ask. When we suffer because of the thing so obtained, God keeps silent and thinks he gave because the children were obstinate. We have to determine how our relationship must be, between us and God.
God comes and blesses the devotee when he asks something with a pure mind. He blesses in times of difficulties. Take the example of Draupati. When a devotee thinks that he can take care, God stands like a witness and observes. Yudhishtra played the dices (in Mahabharata) as he liked playing them and thought Lord Krishna must not see him playing dices. Lord Krishna did not come in at that time as Yudhishtra did not want him to come. But Krishna witnessed what happened. It was the cause of the Mahabharata war. It is not the mistake of God but that of the devotee.
There are people who argue against a devotee treating God as a lover and writing romantic songs on Him. It all depends on the individual minds of the devotee. If a devotee thinks that he would be able to show more love and affection to God, think of him always and get eternal happiness, by treating God as a lover, a husband or a wife, then it is the choice of the devotee to do so. If a person is able to achieve merger of the soul with that of God by practising this way, what is wrong in it? One need not bother whether someone accepts it or not. It would be difficult to attain siddhi or success in spiritual path if a devotee thinks what others would think.
The highest form of worship is treating God as a lover or a husband or a wife. In Hinduism, most of the various schools of thoughts accept this type of worshipping. Our Devima has kept God in her mind in that way. Hence, she is able to show a deep love and affection while doing her prayers to Him, cooking food for Him, singing songs for Him, chanting slokas for Him or doing anything for Him. It is very difficult to achieve it. But Devima is conveying some message to us. If we can understand the message and learn what She is doing, we would also realise God and realise ourselves.