Shyamji writes :
(The bhakti that is talked about in a vedantic context is parabhakti - devotion for the sake of devotion, a severe longing of seeking oneness with Ishwara - not the bhakti which asks Ishwara to bless me with a better job, etc.)
In the initial stages of Bhakti Yoga ,a devotee chooses to worship his Ishta devata ( chosen deity) by offering prayers to the Idol( Pratima ), does daily Puja ( 'Pu' stands for Pushpam( flowers) and Ja stands for Japa ( chanting of God's names ).He/she offers items of Food like Fruits etc and asks for the God's blessings ! At this stage , the devotee worships the idol with all his heart and soul so much so that all that matters to him his God IN THAT IMAGE! but as the bhakta progress in his bhakti , this love for God matures and now the mature devotee is no longer obsessive only about the God in that image .... His heart expands to such an extent that He sees God in everything he comes in contact with - so 'Krishna' is just not in the image he worships in his Puja room - Krishna is everywhere - in all of God's radiant Creation! He becomes a man of expanded consciousness ! So , bhakti in the beginning stages is 'praying and chanting and associating with other devotees.' In mature stages , a bhakta thinks only of God and sees 'God' in everything! this is para bhakti ! This was the state of Parama bhaktas like Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa , Chaitanya Mahaprabhu etc ! THis is a state of Spiritual ecstacy! ( MAD IN THE LOVE OF GOD)
Such a parama bhakta according to Narada Bhakti Sutra IS ONE WHO :
yal labdhva puman siddho bhavaty amrto bhavati trpto bhavati "( sutra 4)
Upon achieving that stage of transcendental devotional service in pure love of God, a person becomes perfect, immortal, and peaceful.
Now read Sutra 5 in the same Narada Bhakti Sutra:
yat prapya na kincid vanchati na socati na dvesti na ramate notsahi bhavati
A person engaged in such pure devotional service neither desires anything for sense gratification, nor laments for any loss, nor hates anything, nor enjoys anything on his personal account, nor becomes very enthusiastic in material activity.
Now compare the above verse to the following verse in Srimad Bhagavad Gita , chapter 18 , verse 54:
brahma-bhutah prasannatma na socati na kanksati samah sarvesu bhutesu mad-bhaktim labhate param
A vaishnava's ( Srila Prabhupada , Iskcon Founder Acharya) translation of this verse:
One who is thus transcendentally situated at once realizes the Supreme Brahman. He never laments nor desires to have anything; he is equally disposed to every living entity. In that state he attains pure devotional service unto Me.
Swami Chinmayananda's translation:
Becoming BRAHMAN, serene in the Self, he neither grieves nor desires; the same to all beings, he obtains a supreme devotion towards Me.
What is this 'Devotion '( para bhakti or supreme debvotion) we are talking about ?
As oil poured from one vessel to another falls in an unbroken line, so, when the mind in an unbroken stream thinks of the Lord, we have what is called Para-Bhakti or supreme love. (Devi Bhagvata)
As Kanchi Mahaswamigal says:
The major purpose of bhakti is to quell all desires and get attracted to that Infinite source of Bliss.
Where is this infinite source of Bliss ?
Adi shankara bhagvadapada himself , a parama jnani , sings raptuorously in verse 59 of Shivananda lahari ( the wave of bliss of lord Shiva):
haMsaH padmavanaM samichchhati yathaa niilaambudaM chaatakaH kokaH kokanadapriyaM pratidinaM chandraM chakorastathaa | cheto vaaJNchhati maamakaM pashupate chinmaargamR^igyaM vibho gauriinaatha bhavatpadaabjayugalaM kaivalyasaukhyapradam.h || 59||
Just as the Swan intensely desires the cluster of lotuses, the Cataka bird the dark cloud, the Ruddy goose the sun, and the Greek partridge the moon, likewise, Oh Pasupati, Oh Vibhu, Oh Gowrinatha, my mind desires your pair of lotus feet, every day, which is sought by the *path of knowledge* and which is the bestower of the bliss of emancipation.
in this verse , Jagadguru Adi Shankara Bhagvadapada himself is seeking the lotus feet of Lord Shiva and says which is sought by the path of knowledge ( jnana marga) and the lord's feet are the source of infinite bliss! (Bhagvadapada itself means at the lotus feet of Bhagawan!)
In closing :
viveka-vij¤aana-vato mah'aatmano brahm'aaham ity eva matiH sad'aatmani .. 160 ( viveka chudamani)
I am the body is the opinion of the fool. I am body and soul is the view of the scholar, while for the greatsouled, discriminating man, his inner knowledge is I am God.
A parama bhakta is also a parama jnani and vice versa!
Aum Shri Gurubyo namaha !
Aum Namo Narayana!
ps: i dedicate this post to all the prema bhaktas of LORD KRISHNA!
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