Part 6 – Devotion inspired by Love
The article describes the two kinds of devotion, one dominated by rituals and the other inspired by love. While rituals are relevant at the beginning of one’s spiritual journey, they gradually become insignificant as Love for God overrules external devotion.
Jagadguru Shree Kripaluji Maharaj in His divine kirtan “jo piya ruchi mahaṁ ruchi rākhē” instructs devotees that in order to attain Divine Love they will have to be cautious of rituals laid out in the ‘karm-kand’ portion of the Scriptures. The rituals have their own relevance in initiating the spiritual advancement of an individual but are in no way helpful in attaining the supreme goal of Divine Love. People who do not realize this fact end up entangled in rituals and performing merely external devotion. They however never advance to building an inner connection with God or grasping internal devotion.
‘karm-kand’ will not suffice in making us cross the ocean of Maya and meeting our soul Beloved. Therefore the Scriptures state that as internal devotion enhances, the importance of the rituals automatically slips out of your mind.
sa jahati matim loke
vede ca parinishthitām
For e.g., in Varnāshram Dharm (ritualistic social duties), all persons are expected to perform actions in order to get released from five kinds of debts. There is Devarin, or our debt to the celestial gods from whom we receive sun, water, wind etc. It is our duty to release ourselves from the debt of these celestial gods. Then there is Pitririn or our debt to the ancestors, for which we perform Tarpan or Shrad ritual to get released. In fact, we are indebted to all other human beings and this debt is called Nririn.
The roads we utilize for conveniently travelling, the internet services we use for instant communication etc are all inventions of human beings who made our life so comfortable. It is our duty to discharge these debts to fellow human beings and many other debts to living entities as well. Vedas describe elaborate procedures to release ourselves from these debts and hence we find people feeding grains to ants, birds etc.
On the other hand, the Bhagwatam says:
na kinkaro nāyam rini cha rājan
sarvātmanā yah saranam saranyam
gato mukundam parihritya kartam
Whoever discharges his or her debt to God is automatically released from all the other debts. One no longer needs to be bothered about getting released from other debts because he/she is now engaging in devotion to the Lord of the Universe. Devotion to the Supreme Master is like watering the roots of a tree – water will automatically reach the flowers, branches and twigs. Therefore, when we engage in devotion, the importance of rituals automatically starts fading away. The rituals are supposed to be an aid to devotion, and not devotion an aid to the rituals.
Basically there are two kinds of devotions. One is the ritualistic kind where rituals are a highly emphasized, and is called Vaidhi Bhakti. The other kind is Rāgānugā Bhakti, where the Love dominates. People have their own inclinations and some are attracted to ritualistic devotion. Now here the aim of rituals is to enhance our Bhakti, on the contrary most people unconsciously make Bhakti serve the rituals. In other words, Bhakti becomes subservient to the ritual – the aim is no longer to do devotion but to perform the ritual.
Jagadguru Shree Kripaluji Maharaj preaches Rāgānugā Bhakti – where the inner sentiment and devotion are the primary focus. Therefore in spirituality we take advantage of those rituals that help the inner devotion.
The ones that don’t, we reject them fearlessly.
sarva dharmān parityatjya, mām ekam saranam vraja
(Bhagavad Gita 18.66)
Here the primary devotion that we engage in is simple, straightforward and most powerful! That is shravan, keertan, and smaran – chanting, hearing and remembering. This simple devotion is the most powerful way of developing the inner sentiment; of enhancing our inner devotion and love for God.
Therefore, Shree Kripaluji Maharaj says, “karma na nekahuṁ bhāve rē”: if you want ‘Prem Ras’, you have to be careful and wary of rituals. Don’t be overcome by them. For the aspirant who wishes to taste Prem Ras, the Karm becomes insipid, tasteless.