"Unflinching devotion to the Teacher is paramount in the life of a true seeker. To begin with, an external God can be the object of faith. But once the devotee grows to be a seeker, only a Wise Teacher can fulfil his quest.  It is then for the seeker to get purified and enlightened by the words of wisdom from his Guru.  Their bond and attunement put the Teacher on the pedestal of God.  Such an impeccable Guru-sishya bond alone bestows wisdom, strength and fulfillment to the seeker."

The Guiding force of Narayanashrama Tapovanam & Center for Inner Resources Development

Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha

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Bhaagavatam In Daily Life - 3

[The concluding part of the talk on ‘Bhaagavatam in Daily Life’ delivered by Ma on 31st December 2004 at the 3rd Sreemad Bhaagavata Tattva Sameeksha Satram.]

Reading with Identity

I have always aspired to become a Bhaagavatottama – the best among the devotees. I have been reading Bhaagavatam, and when I read I completely identify myself with the characters. I get a lot of bliss when I think of the devotion and surrender of the devotees. Whenever I have read about devotees and seekers, I have tried to become like them.

I used to identify myself with Dhruva, Prahlaada, Bheeshma on his śaraśayya (bed of arrows), and many others. I have wept with Dhruva when he was ill-treated by his stepmother and denied his father’s lap. I became Dhruva while he was doing his tapasyaa ; when he was seeing the Lord in his heart; when suddenly he saw that form in front of him. I also became speechless like him, I wanted to sing stutis (hymns) and I felt the touch of the Lord’s conch on my cheek. This is how I got identified with every character, till I reached Uddhava in the 11th skandha. When Sri Krishna was about to leave the world, Uddhava, the friend and close associate of Sri Krishna from childhood, wept in agony:

Nāhaṃ tavāṅghri-kamalaṃ kṣaṇārdham-api keśava |
Tyaktuṃ samutsahe nātha svadhāma naya māmapi ||

(11.6.43)

– “Not even half a moment I am able to remain separated from your lotusfeet, O Keshava. Therefore, O Lord, take me also to your abode.”

When I first read this verse, I thought: “If I am a devotee, why is it that my mind is not thinking like this? Why my mind is not crying that I am not able to live for even half a moment, O Lord, without You? Even now, how is it that I am satisfied with the worldly things?”

Dear devotees, this should be the state of our mind when we read spiritual texts. People remain attracted to the worldly things. They think of their son, daughter, house and other things without which they cannot live. But how many cry: “O Lord, I cannot live without you”? When will that day come when we will be able to say like that?

The Best Amongst the Devotees

A Bhaagavatottama I wanted to become. Who is a Bhaagavatottama? So many descriptions are there. Ultimately, it is said, a Bhaagavatottama binds the Lord in his heart with the rope of praṇaya (love), and binds Him in such a manner that the Lord is not able to escape from there. Should we not all want to become like that? But we don’t. Our praṇaya is for the world, not for the Lord.

The Lord doesn’t want anything from us. He doesn’t look into our wealth or how much we can offer him during worship. He is pleased with amalaa bhaktiḥ (pure devotion):

Prīyate amalayā bhaktyā harir-anyad-viḍambanam

(7.7.52)

– Hari is most pleased with pure devotion. All other things are useless ostentations.

Sakala-bhuvana-madhye nirdhanāste'pi dhanyāḥ
nivasati hṛdi yeṣāṃ śrīharer-bhaktir-ekā |
Harir-api-nijalokaṃ sarvathāto vihāya
Praviśati hṛdi teṣāṃ bhakti sūtropanaddhaḥ ||

(Bhaagavata Mahatmyam 3.73)

Sakala-bhuvana-madhye nirdhanāste’pi dhanyāḥ – In spite of not having any wealth, they are still the most blessed ones in the whole world. Who? In whose heart, there is one-pointed devotion for Śrīhari. Ekabhaktih – exclusive devotion towards the Lord, not for the world! Once the devotees have this ekabhaktih for the Lord, what happens?

Harir-api-nijalokaṃ sarvathāto vihāya - Hari leaves his abode – the vaikunṭha – and enters the heart of those devotees who are having Ekabhaktih. And after entering, what happens? – He gets bound in their heart by the string of bhakti – Bhakti-sūtropanaddhaḥ. And, He is not able to escape from their heart anymore.

Nityotsavo bhavet-teṣāṃ nitya-śrīr-nitya-maṅgalam |
Yēṣāṃ hṛdistho bhagavān maṅgalāyatanaṃ hariḥ ||

(Pāṇḍavagītā)

When the Lord is in the heart, then there is nitya utsava – eternal festivity. There is eternal prosperity and auspiciousness – nitya-śrīr-nitya-maṅgalam.

How All Activities Become Divine

Dear devotees, you have heard me. When we hear devotional talks or expositions, we have a lot of ecstasy, devotion and divine feeling; but, when we go back to our daily activities, we are again gripped by the worldly thoughts. Our mind goes away from the Lord and gets tied to the constricting thoughts and affectations. What is to be done?

We should have the constant association of the Guru. The Guru will tell us how to live in this world so that we can experience Divinity even while we are active. It is not that we have to leave all our activities. But, we have to change our attitude towards them. While performing the worldly activities, we should always remember: “Nothing belongs to me. I am not the doer. I am only a small drop in the eternal flow of Nature.”

Lokeśa caitanya-mayādideva
śrīkānta-viṣṇo bhavad-ājñayaiva |
Prātaḥ samutthāya tava priyārthaṃ
saṃsāra-yātrām-anuvartayiṣye ||

(Prātaḥ-smaraṇa-stotram)

The devotee calls the Lord with different names – Lokeśa, Caitanya-maya, Aadideva, Śrīkānta, Viṣṇu – and says: “I am in the midst of worldly activities. I have to be involved in various distracting activities throughout the day. How am I to remember you, O Lord? When I get up from sleep, it is by your prompting alone that I get up. It is by your wish that I wake up into the beautiful morning. Once I get up, there is a series of work awaiting me. Some work is apparently not devotional at all. So, how am I to remember you? I must do the work tava-priyaartham – thinking that it is Your work and I am working for Your pleasure alone.”

If we think in this manner, we will not feel deviated or distracted. We will not feel that we are not having the touch of the Lord during our activity and interaction. This is the way we should look at life – tava-priyaartham. Even if we have to sweep a house, we should think we are sweeping our Lord’s temple. If we have to wash vessels, we should think we are washing the vessels in a temple. The whole world will become a temple and all the work will be of the Lord.

vāṇī guṇānukathane śravaṇau kathāyāṃ
hastau ca karmasu manas-tava pādayornaḥ |
smṛtyāṃ śiras-tava nivāsa-jagat-praṇāme
dṛṣṭiḥ satāṃ darśane'stu bhavattaūnām ||

(10.10.38)

Let whatever is spoken be His word, whatever is heard be the story of the Lord, whatever work the hands do be Divine work. We should think this world to be the temple of the Lord and in everybody we must see His form. This is how we have to live. This should be our practice. Unless we do this practice, we will not be able to keep these devotional feelings with us always, to feel the Divinity every moment.

The great devotee has sung:

baddhenāñjalinā natena śirasā gātraiḥ saromodgamaiḥ
kaṇṭhena svara-gadgadena nayanenodīrṇa-bāṣpāmbunā |
nityaṃ tvac-caraṇāravinda-yugala-dhyānāmṛtāsvādināṃ
asmākaṃ sarasīruhākṣa satataṃ sampadyatāṃ jīvitam ||

(Mukundamālā-stotram)

–“Sarasīruhākṣa  (O lotus-eyed Lord), let our lives be spent in this manner: Baddhena-anjalinā – with our hands folded in reverence, natena śirasā– head bowed down in humility, gātraiḥ saromodgamaiḥ – with horripilation in the whole body thinking about You, kaṇṭhena svara-gadgadena – with the voice drenched in emotion, nayanenodīrṇa-bāṣpāmbunā – with the eyes shedding tears of devotion.” And, what more?

“Nityaṃ tvac-caraṇāravinda-yugala-dhyānāmṛtāsvādināṃ – always tasting the nectar arising out of the meditation on Your holy lotus feet.” While meditating upon the lotus feet of the Lord, the amṛta that springs from such meditation – let us taste that amṛta . This should be the condition of a devotee every moment – even at work, while interacting. The mind should not go away from the Lord. The mind should be always at His feet:

Yatraiva yatraiva mano madīyam
tatraiva tatraiva tava svarūpam |
Yatraiva yatraiva śiro madīyam
tatraiva tatraiva pada-dvayam te ||

(Tripurasundarī Vedapāda Stotram 110)

In our life in this world, in all our activities and interactions, we should think like this. Yatraiva yatraiva mano madīyam – wherever our mind is, whatever we see, whatever we interact with, tatraiva tatraiva tava svarūpam – it is You and You alone, O Lord, it is your true presence. Yatraiva yatraiva śiro madīyam – Wherever my head is, tatraiva tatraiva pada-dvayam te – everywhere, O Lord, are Your holy lotus feet.

My dear devotees, time is up. When I started, I thought what to speak and how to speak. But, now I think I can talk to you for hours together – about the Lord. I can talk to you so that the mind rests at the feet of the Lord and we feel Him everywhere.

Jaya śaṇkha-gadādhara nīla-kalevara
pīta-paṭāmbara dehi padam |
Jaya bhakta-janāśraya maṅgala-kāraṇa
antima-bāndhava dehi padam ||

– Glory to You, O Lord! Grant me shelter at Your holy feet! Glory to the Lord, who is the refuge of all devotees and the source of all auspiciousness! O the Supreme friend, grant me refuge at Your holy feet!

Jai Guru. Jai Guru. Jai Guru.