Importance of Humility in Devotion

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Date: 1st December 2022

Continuing from the last month…

तृण से बढ़ कर दीनता उर राखु नित ही प्यारे 

Moving further, Shree Kripaluji Maharaj tells us another important aspect of sadhana, devotion which is dainya bhav, feeling of being humble.  To understand the importance of humility, let us consider the three paths of sadhana.  You will then be able to realize that developing humility is the easiest way to reach God. 

You might have heard or read that there are three paths to reach God. The first is karm, the path of Vedic ritualistic actions, the second is gyan, path of knowledge and the third is bhakti, the path of devotion.  All these three paths are related to our nature. By nature, we are sat-chit-anand, since we are the soul.  The nature of sat is to perform action, the nature of chit is knowledge, and the nature of anand is devotion.  Since we have three natures, similarly, there are three paths to reach God.  The first is karm, the path of action, the second is gyan, path of knowledge, and the third is bhakti, the path of devotion.

Amongst these three paths, the path of karm, to perform Vedic ritualistic actions, is very difficult path.  If you want to follow the path of karm, then there are 6 associated rules.  The place should be appropriate, for it cannot be performed anywhere.  An auspicious time has to be chosen.  The materials used should be pure and of the highest quality.  The money spent must be obtained by honest means.  It is not just a matter of purchasing ghee (clarified butter) from the market for worship.  The priest performing the Vedic rituals should be highly knowledgeable, and the host should be humble and sincere.  The pronunciation of the mantras, chantings of rituals should be perfect.  It is almost impossible to get all these six elements right in the present age of Kaliyug

Let us now consider the second path, i.e. the path of knowledge.  What is the difference between bhakti marg, or the path of devotion and gyan marg, or the path of knowledge? Some people think that debating about the Vedas & the scriptures is gyan, and chanting keertans, is bhakti marg.  But it is not so.  People on the path of knowledge also sing keertans and people who follow the path of bhakti also read the shastras. 

 The difference is in the philosophy.  A gyani says, “soham”, which means, “I am Brahm” or “Shivoham”, which means, “I am Shiv, there is no entity beyond me”.  In reply, the devotee says that this is not interesting.  The devotee says that a “da” should be added to “soham”, i.e “dasoham”, which means, “I am the servant of Brahm”.  The gyani says again, “Add another ‘sa’ to it.”  This will make it “sadasoham”.  The devotee says, “You have spoilt it again!”  Add another “da” in front to make it “dasadasoham” which means, “I am the servant of the servant of God.”

Hence, gyani says that the self is Brahm, and one should realize the presence of Brahm within.  But gyan marg is also very difficult. The path of knowledge is for the one who is completely devoid of material desires, and who is completely detached from the material world.  The most famous acharya of gyan marg in this age was Jagadguru Shankaracharya.  He has laid the conditions stating gyan marg is for the following class of aspirants:

विवेकिनो विरक्तस्य शमादिगुणशालिनः
मुमुक्षोरेव हि ब्रह्मजिज्ञासायोग्यता मता

Gyan marg is for the one who has a great intellect, is completely detached from the world, has reconciled the mind in meditation, and has a curiosity to attain God.   And, if some one follows this path, then one has to face danger in every move, which means Gyan marg is equivalent to walking on the edges of a sword.

ग्यान पंथ कृपान कै धारा।
परत खगेस होइ नहिं बारा

It is said in Ramayan that Gyan marg is the same as walking on the edges of a sword, you will cut your legs.  If you lift one leg the other will bleed, and if you lift the back leg, the other one will be cut.

Thus, both the paths – path of karm, action and path of Gyan, knowledge are extremely difficult.  So, the easiest is the – Bhakti marg.

कहहु भगति पथ कवन प्रयासा। जोग मख जप तप उपवासा

There is almost nothing to be done in this path.  You just have to love God.

सुलभ सुखद मारग यह भाई।
भगति मोरि पुरान श्रुति गाई

Hence, for us individuals, Mahapurush and the scriptures, have given the instruction that we should follow the easy path, which is the path of devotion.   This is Kaliyug.  And in Kaliyug, our body is weak and spoiled, the atmosphere is polluted, mind is restless and unsteady, the environment is impure.  With all these difficulties, it is better to walk the easiest path, which is just to love God.  One thing is clear now, that both Karm marg and Gyan marg are difficult, and Bhakti marg is the easiest. What if someone finds Bhakti marg also difficult? Is there any other marg which is simpler than this?  But what is so difficult about Bhakti marg?

 The Ramayan says:

कहत सुगम करनी अपार

It is easy to say this but it is very difficult to implement it.  Why is this so?  What is the meaning of bhakti? Bhakti means to do seva, to serve God.  Seva means to offer everything one possesses to God and not to expect anything in return.  Even while offering everything, one should not have the feeling of pride of offering.  One has to feel that it is the grace and mercy of God that He has accepted our service.  Also, one should have a feeling of incapability to serve God or the lack of feeling of servitude.  If someone does seva in this manner, then it is called as correct seva.  

 In this Kaliyug, who can have this kind of servitude towards God?  It is only because of God’s grace that He accepts our seva.   It is possible only is God bestows His grace on us.  Just as a child does not serve the mother and the mother takes care and serves the child.  Similarly, how can we, the human beings serve the almighty God?  When we surrender ourselves to God then, He will takes care of us.  Therefore, Shree Krishna says in Geeta:

ये यथा मां प्रपद्यन्ते तांस्तथैव भजाम्यहम् |

“Once a soul surrenders to me, I will take care and serve that soul.”   In bhakti, devotion it is easy to say that one should constantly contemplate upon God.  While doing sadhana, devotion, sometimes it is difficult to concentrate your mind upon God.  What if someone finds bhakti marg also difficult? Is there any fourth path? It was told earlier, that according to the Vedas there are only three paths to attain God.  There is a fourth path which is very good for all of us.  What is this path?

To be continued in the next edition……

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