Human life is an intriguing journey. We fall in love and expect reciprocation; we help someone in need and expect a favour in return; we pray to God, expecting our desires to be fulfilled. This chain of performing actions and expecting self-benefitting returns becomes the fundamental basis upon which we either experience happiness or drown in disparity when such expectations are not fulfilled. The state of being rich, famous, beautiful, and surrounded by people who appreciate us is a dominantly prevailing yet faulty perception of a happy life. This is a typical means of self-gratification because we can experience these states of being through our sensory organs, which the mind reassures. Yet, it is an illusion because these qualities and circumstances will perish over time. The person who spends their entire life forming and maintaining these fleeting attachments ultimately ceases to exist in the body, which becomes the battlefield of conflicting emotions, beliefs, and actions.
The Influence of Maya: Perceiving Truth Beyond Illusion
The strong force of Maya or worldly delusion can easily influence us through our physical surroundings. It's like seeing objects in the faint flicker of a lamp at night and assuming their appearance is true while disregarding everything else in the room. However, this belief needs to be revised because it only encompasses the short area illuminated by light. The true beauty and vastness of the world are revealed at dawn when the splendid sunlight brightens the world and allows us to see beyond our limited perceptions.
The self-realised and enlightened souls from time immemorial have dedicated their bodies to guide the people on the path of true happiness. Through the teachings and guidance of such gurus and devotees, the lost souls, especially in this age of ignorance and scepticism, have found the ultimate purpose of this human birth. Although every enlightened being has their unique way of attaining Supreme Bliss (sat-chit-anand), one commonality among them is their adherence to selfless devotion.
Selfless Devotion: Unveiling the Essence of True Connection
When we talk about 'selfless devotion', it often raises a lot of questions. Who should we be devoted to? How can we stay devoted to a God we cannot perceive with our physical senses? Is there any guarantee that we will reach God if we follow this path? Many believe that we only have one life and that wasting it on something as elusive as devotion to God is unfathomable. The 'carpe diem' philosophy, which advocates instant gratification, has only reinforced this belief. However, by taking small yet practical steps on the path of devotion, we can gradually realise that God is not just present in some other world but also within every atom of this world, the human body, and every soul. Moreover, it is a fact that the Lord belongs to his devotees. To those who love him, either in the 'sakhya bhava' or 'vatsalya bhava', 'dasya bhava', or 'madhura bhava', He is not an authoritative figure but a loving father, a mischievous child, a caring master, and a charming lover.
A king as wealthy and powerful as Mahabali quickly agrees to be the third spot for the Lord to place his feet; an innocent child of the fearsome demon, Prahlad displays an undeterred faith in Lord Narayana even when tormented by his father; mighty princes of the great Pandava dynasty and their chaste wife Draupadi, though thrown into the most challenging and humiliating circumstances, only grow stronger in their devotion for Shree Krishna instead of doubting him; the embodiment of unblemished and pure love and dedication, Radharani, whose love for Shree Krishna intensifies even after their separation from Vrindavan only to be reunited with Him in Golok Dham. The holy book of Srimad Bhāgavatam is a testimony of how selfless devotion works in mysterious ways. It illustrates the devotion to God through parental affection, friendship, conjugal love, nature, and animals responding to the melodious flute of Krishna and even the demons being saved by the Lord's mercy just because they uttered His name.
Experiencing the Divine: The Bliss of Selfless Devotion
सर्वधर्मान्परित्यज्य मामेकं शरणं व्रज ।
अहं त्वां सर्वपापेभ्यो मोक्षयिष्यामि मा शुच: ॥
sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śharaṇaṁ vraja
ahaṁ tvāṁ sarva-pāpebhyo mokṣhayiṣhyāmi mā śhuchaḥ
In the Bhagavad Gita (18.66), Shree Krishna asserts the need to leave every conflicting belief, action, and emotion that conditions our life and surrender entirely only unto Him. If these claims by the great devotees and gurus are abstract, philosophical ideas and nothing more, can we deny the ecstasy we experience during a lively bhajan session? This transcendental vibration runs through our body while chanting the holy names of God, visualising his forms and hearing his pastimes and the detachment we feel when in the association of enlightened devotees. Devotion is not a chore. It is the higher form of love towards the Supreme Spirit, who resides as the super soul and the process through which we realise this authentic Self is by slowly dissolving the temporary, physical identity. This is called Selfless Devotion. For all those souls who are rigorously engaged in this path, the Lord incarnates, again and again, to grant them Divine Knowledge and Grace, and thereby, He offers a beacon of light and hope for future devotees. Like Lord Shiva rescued Markandeya, Lord Narasimha saved Prahlad; Lord Vitthala stood on the brick for Pundalik, Lord Venkateswara saved Hathiram Baba, Shree Krishna showered his love on Meera, the list can go on, and each example is concrete proof of the Power of Selfless Devotion.