Bhakti can be practiced under all conditions and in all the situations. Learning austere penance, the study of the Vedas and brilliant intellect are not needed for the attainment of Bhakti or devotion. What is wanted is a constant and living remembrance of God, coupled with faith. That is the reason why the path of Bhakti is available for everyone.
Nishad was born in a low cast, Sabari was a rustic woman, Druba was an uneducated boy. Vidura and Sudama were very poor, Bibhisana was an ugly Rakshasa, Hanuman was a monk, these all attained God-realization on account of their devotion and self-surrender.
So Bhakti is easier than any other way of approach to God. In the path of Jyana and Yoga, there is a risk of fall. But in the path of devotion, there is no risk as the devotee receives full support and the help of God.
Here always question rises, how to cultivate Devotion? It is mention in the scripture about Nabadha Bhakti. Nabadha means Nine and Bhakti mean Devotion. There are NINE STEPS to attain devotion it mentions in the Ramayana. Lord Rama says to Shabari.
1ST step – Satsang – To keep a company of the saints (Satsang).
2nd step is Hari Katha – To enjoy listening to legends/discourses pertaining to the Lord.
3rd step is Guru Seva – Selfless service to the Guru’s lotus feet without any pride is the third step.
4th step is Prabhu Guna Gana – To earnestly sing praises of the Lord’s virtues with a clear heart.
5th step is Bhajana – Chanting My Name with steadfast faith as the Vedas reveal.
6th step is Dama – Practice of self-control, good character, detachment from manifold activities and always follow the duties as a good Karma.
7th step is Vasudeva Sarbam – To perceive the world as God Himself.
8th step Santosa – Contentment is a state (which one arrives at when one travels the first seven steps) where there is no desire left, but the gift of perfect peace and contentment with whatever one has. (In this state) one does not see fault in others, even in a dream.
9th step – Sarala – One has full faith in the Lord and becomes (child-like) simple with no hypocrisy or deceit. The devotee has strong faith in the Lord with neither exaltation nor depression in any life circumstance (but becomes equanimous).
If anyone were to have taken even one step towards devotion, out of all nine, he/she would be very dear to the Lord.
Also, Srimad Bhagavatham elaborates nine forms of bhakti which, if cultivated and practiced regularly will no doubt lead us closer to the lord:
shravanam, kirtanam, vishnoh smaranam, paada-sevanam, archanam,
vandanam, daasyam, sakhyam, aatma-nivedanam (Srimad Bhagavatham 7.5.23).
The nine forms of devotion are:
Shravanam – Hearing the names and glories of the Lord
Keertanam – Chanting His glories
Smaranam – Remembering the Lord
Paada sevanam – Serving the Lord’s feet
Archanam – Worshiping the Lord
Vandanam – Offering obeisance unto the Lord
Daasyam – Serving the Lord as His servant
Sakhyam – Developing friendship with the Lord
Aatma Nivedanam – The total surrender of oneself to the Lord
There are two types of Bhakti
1 – Para Bhakti
2 – Apara Bhakti
We will continue to know about it in the next article….Namaste