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TEACHINGS OF DNYANESHWARI
CHAPTER 12 - YOGA OF DEVOTION
Readers must have noted that Dnyaneshwar Maharaj extols the path of devotion out of the four paths: Jnana, Karma, Yoga and Bhakti. This chapter is entirely devoted to the Bhakti path.
WHO IS BETTER - SAGE OR DEVOTEE
Arjuna asked Shri Krishna, "It is clear that you have both the formless, attributeless state as well as material state with form and attributes. Devotional path leads to your material form, while the path of yoga (of Knowledge) leads to the attributeless form.
“To your devotees you are their highest goal. To achieve that goal, they treasure your form in their heart and serve you, merging all their desires and thoughts in their devotion towards you.
“On the other hand, the sages (men of knowledge) meditate on the Brahman, with the feeling "I am That"
Please tell me which of these two really attains knowledge?”
DEVOTEE IS A SUPERIOR YOGI
Shri Krishna replied, "Those devotees whose faith steadily increases with continued devotion, in whose heart love upsurges, who concentrate their attention on Me day and night and offer themselves completely to Me are really superior yogis.
YOGA PATH INVOLVES MORE LABOURS
"The followers of the Yoga path do attain unity with the Brahman, but for that they have to restrain the organs, eliminate the sense pleasures with courage and detachment, and then practice yogic postures to awaken the Kundalini force. Then they have to be equable towards everything and everybody and sacrifice their ego. But what they attain after all these efforts is only Me. Thus they do not gain anything special from yoga other than more labours.
There are other dangers too. Those who hope to attain Brahman through yoga path but without devotion get lured by the Riddhis and Siddhis. Desire, anger etc. impede their progress. They have to suppress hunger and thirst, face the elements like wind, sun and rain, heat and chill, taking shelter of some tree. In short, what the followers of this path of yoga get is only sufferings for their body.
Those who follow the path of devotion do not have to undergo these sufferings.
A DEVOTEE OFFERS EVERYTHING TO ME
The devotees happily perform whatever prescribed duties that come to their lot, carefully avoiding prohibited actions. They then burn the fruits of these actions (karmas) by offering them to Me.
Their mental and physical tendencies are directed only towards Me and not anywhere else. Due to such ceaseless worship, I make my presence in their hearts when they meditate on My form.
They forsake pleasures as well as liberation in order to be able to lovingly indulge only with Me. They sacrifice with unexceptionable devotion, their body, mind and wealth at My feet.
Is it possible to describe these devotees in mere words? Arjuna, I am obliged to satisfy all their wishes.
I LOVE MY DEVOTEES
I love my devotees as they are (like a mother loves her child, ugly or pretty), and I consider that taking care of their problems is My responsibility. My devotees need not worry about their worldly problems. They are like My family members. Is it not My obligation therefore to save them from difficulties?
I am the sustainer of this universe and I feel embarrassed to see that this world is in the throes of life and death. Who will not get frightened by this ocean of earthly life one has to cross? It is for this reason therefore that I take Avatar and rush to my devotees lest they get frightened. I help my devotees in different ways.
- For those who are single and unencumbered, I set them on the path of meditation, while for those who have a family, My thousand names (Vishnusahasranam) is like a raft to cross this ocean.
- For some devotees I tie the lifebelt of love and bring them to the shore of liberation.
- Even for animals, as long as they call themselves my devotees, I make them worthy of occupying a place in my kingdom in Vaikuntha.
Therefore Arjuna, you should follow this singular Bhakti path to become a superior devotee.
- My devotees do not at all worry because I am ever ready to save them. I become obsessed with my devotees as soon as they surrender their mind and consciousness to me.
VARIOUS WAYS TO SELF-REALISATION THROUGH DEVOTION
Shri Krishna now suggests various ways for attaining Self-realisation through devotion.
1. Concentrating on My form
2. Yoga of practice
- Ego automatically accompanies mind and intellect, therefore let the mind and body be concentrated in My form and let it remain steady there. You will then attain My all-pervading form and I swear that no difference will remain between you and Me.
- And if you are not able to concentrate your undivided attention on Me, then try to practice Abhyasayoga or Yoga of practice as follows:
May be you do not have the strength to adopt this Yoga of practice, but do not worry because there other ways too.
- During the entire day, turn your mind to Me at least once even for a moment. The very instant your mind enjoys the bliss of the experience of My contact, a dislike will be created in your mind towards sense pleasures. With practice, it will slowly and steadily come out of the worldly matters and enter in Me until it becomes one with Me. Nothing is difficult to attain by this yoga of practice.
3. Offer actions to God
- You need not control your sense organs or leave your pleasures and give up your ego. But you should follow the family traditions and the rules of law. And, whatever you may do or decide to do, see that you do not claim "I did it" because, all actions are done at the pleasure of the Almighty God. Without bothering about whether the action was complete or incomplete, be one with the Self. Giving up the pride of being the doer and steadying your concentration on Me, make an offering of the fruits of your actions to Me. If you develop this attitude then you will be liberated after your death.
[NOTE: As mentioned in the note in Ch 9 summary, offering your actions to God implies developing an attitude that "Whatever has happened, from the thought of doing the action to its execution, successfully or without success, was all due to the will of God and you are only an instrument in the process").
4. Shed desire for fruits
This sacrifice of the actions may appear to be easy but it is the greatest among all the Yogas. The actions, which are nullified by surrender do not accumulate and one does not have to take rebirth after death.
- And Arjuna, if you are not able to perform actions for My sake, then just be devoted to Me. There need not be even a feeling that I should be remembered or the actions should be performed for Me. You need not bother about offering Me your actions if you find it difficult to do so. Only, let your intellect be alert to restraining the organs and shedding the desire for the fruits of your actions even as they are done. The fruits of actions will then vanish into nothingness.
STEPS TO ATTAIN PEACE
By practice (of abandonment of fruits of actions), one can get knowledge, by knowledge one gains success in meditation; and once one is engrossed in meditation, actions (karmas) go away. Once actions go away, the fruits also accompany them automatically. One then gets uninterrupted peace. This is the step-by-step method of practice to achieve peace.
Arjuna, Knowledge is superior to practice and meditation is superior to knowledge and renouncing the fruits of actions is superior to meditation and peace is superior to renunciation of fruits of actions. These are the successive steps in this path that lead to peace or bliss of the Brahman.
[NOTE: Thus, the primary task is to control the mind, so that there are no desires for the fruits of one’s actions. The type of actions implied here those related to one’s righteous duties and not those connected with pleasures. Actions of the latter type are prevented when the mind is under control, so that one does not become a slave to sense pleasures. This does not necessarily mean that one should live an austere, uninteresting life but implies that one should enjoy the pleasures as they come without craving for them and running after them].
WHAT A DEVOTEE IS LIKE
Now Shri Krishna elaborates on the qualities of a devotee.
- My true devotee is an equable person with no feelings of hatred for any creature. He is equally friendly towards all and cares for them.
- He does not have egotistic or possessive feelings like "mine" and "yours".
- He is not even conscious of the feelings of pleasure or sorrow.
- He possesses forgiveness like mother earth that forgives even those who ravage her.
- In his heart he and the Supreme Soul (Paramatman) have become one. Bliss is always apparent in him. He is happy without external aids. He restrains his mind with staunch and true determination.
I love such a devotee as a husband loves his wife. I love him like My own life but even this simile is inadequate. The love for a person is like an enchanting mantra. It is not something that can be expressed in words, but I am compelled to tell you because of your faith. And that is why I gave the simile of husband and wife, otherwise how else is it possible to express this love?
- Enriched by the wealth of yoga, he surrenders his mind and intellect in Me. Having been purified internally and externally by this surrender, he is devoted to Me with love. Such a devotee is THE devotee, THE liberated one and THE yogi.
THE DEVOTEE I LOVE
Now Shri Krishna tells about the characteristics of the devotee for whom He (as Bhagwan or God) keeps a place in His heart.
My devotee does not feel offended by the rude world and others also do not feel embarrassed by him. He feels he is one among all the creatures. Therefore, he is not fed up with them. He thinks of the world as his own body; therefore, thoughts of likes and dislikes vanish from his mind. Thus, dwaita or the sense of being different from the universe disappears from his mind and feelings of glee and anger also vanish.
Oh! How I love him who, having been thus liberated from the feelings of happiness and pain, fear and sorrow, worships Me! Free of all desires, he is fully satiated with the bliss of the Self and has reached perfection.
His company is liberating
The company of such a saint is more fruitful for liberation than a pilgrimage to holy places like Kashi or Himalaya or taking bath in the Ganges. In Kashi one has to die to get liberation; Himalayas are dangerous; and while taking bath in the Ganges one may get drowned or be eaten by crocodiles. But the company of a saint is free of all dangers. On the contrary, one who keeps a saint’s company gets liberated even while still living.
He insists on a special kind of dualism
Such a saint becomes by his holiness, the shelter of even holy places. His company destroys bad thoughts from a person's mind. He is pure from inside out and experiences the Brahman. His mind is all pervading but he is always happy and unconcerned about everything. His actions are without ego as the doer. He becomes possessed of peace and is marked for liberation.
Having experienced Brahman, he has no dualism. But he does desire a special kind of dualism for the sake of the bliss he gets from devotion: he splits himself into two, calling one the devotee and the other as God. Even after reaching the goal of the fourth duty i.e. the liberation, My devotee continues to follow the path of devotion and sets an example to the world.
It is only such devotee that I am obsessed with. He actually become for Me the object to meditate upon. I feel happy when I meet him. It is for him that I take birth as an Avatar and come into this world. I like him so much that I sacrifice My life for him.
A desireless Sthitapradnya
Enjoying the bliss of Self-realisation he does not like any kind of physical pleasures. He has no desires left. He does not fear death because he believes firmly that his real Self will never get destroyed. Having attained a state of steady insight, he becomes an equable person. He does not have feelings like "This is good" and "That is bad." Thus, even after having attained the ceaseless Brahman he remains My devotee. I state on oath that no one, other than such a person is closer to Me. I hold him on My head like a crown.
Everybody bows before a superior person but before such a devotee, the whole world prostrates. Only a true Guru like Lord Shiva can explain this respect towards devotion, but praising Lord Shiva is like praising Myself.
He has attained the authority to decide who should be accorded the liberation and who should not be but even then he is very humble. And it is because of this that I bow to him and wear his footmark on My chest.
[NOTE: According to a Purana legend Rishi Bhrigu a devotee of Lord Vishnu kicked Him on the chest and Lord Vishnu proudly carries that footmark].
I take birth on this earth just to be in his company. Not only do I like him to the extreme, I also like extremely those who listen to his life story and praise him.
What I have told you is the yoga of devotion. Its greatness is such that I personally love such a devotee and hold him in My mind and carry him on My head.
I ALSO LIKE THOSE WHO TELL ABOUT DEVOTEES
Arjuna, I like those who,
- after listening to this nectar-like narrative, experience it themselves by becoming My devotees, and
- in whom the devotion grows by virtue of their faith and
- by becoming firm in the heart makes them practice it, and
I am always concerned about such devotees. Those who have a liking for the stories of God are themselves the holy places and holy persons. I meditate on them. They are My deity of worship and I do not like any other persons. I am obsessed by them, they are My treasure and meeting them satisfies Me. What more, I consider those who narrate the stories about My loving devotees as the highest deity.
- who, even after they get the benefits of the devotion, continue to love Me and consider that I alone am their ultimate goal and their all in all.
CH: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10 / 11 / 12 / 13 / 14 / 15 / 16 / 17 / 18
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