Live in love for Him alone. That is the greatest fulfilment of all existence. –Chinmaya
Narada Bhakti Sutra praises devotion thus:
यल्लब्ध्वा पुमान् सिद्धो भवति अमृतो भवति तृप्तो भवति मत्तो भवति स्तब्धो भवति आत्मारामो भवति |
(Gaining which a person becomes perfect, immortal, contented, intoxicated, peaceful, and revels in his own Self.)
Devotion to the Lord gives us the greatest fulfilment in life.
And this fulfilment makes us free from all wants.
One day, after he had gone blind, Rabbi Bunam visited Rabbi Fishel.
Rabbi Fishel was famous throughout the land for his miraculous cures.
“Entrust yourself to my care,” said his host, “I shall restore your light.”
“That is not necessary,” answered Bunam, “I see what I need to see.”
Devotion makes us so utterly fulfilled, that there is nothing to ask.
It is so well said, “When we put our cares in His hands He puts His peace in our hearts.”
How easy is to love God? How easy is to win His Grace?
Bhagavad Geeta says worshipping Him is so easy…
पत्रं पुष्पं फलं तोयं यो मे भक्त्या प्रयच्छति । तदहं भक्त्युपहृतम् अश्नामि प्रयतात्मन: |
(A leaf, a flower, a fruit, or even just water – whoever offers any of these with devotion, I accept it, offered with devotion.)
Leo Tolstoy has written a beautiful story in this regard.
Three men became very famous saints in Russia. The highest priest of the country was very much disturbed because people were not coming to him, people were going to those three saints, and he had not even heard their names. And how could they be saints? – because in Christianity a saint is a saint only when the church recognizes him as a saint.
(The English word ‘saint’ comes from ‘sanction’; when the church sanctions somebody as a saint, then he is a saint.)
The high priest was certainly very angry. He took a boat and crossed the river to meet them. Those three saints were sitting under a tree. They were very simple people, peasants, uneducated. They touched the feet of the highest priest, and the priest was very happy. He thought, “Now I will put them right; these are not very dangerous people. I thought they would be rebels.”
He asked them, “How did you become saints?”
They said, “We don’t know! We don’t even believe that we are saints either. People have started calling us saints and we go on trying to convince them that we are not, that we are very simple people, but they don’t listen. The more we argue that we are not, the more they worship us! And we are not very good at arguing either.”
The priest was very happy. He said, “What is your prayer? Do you know how to pray?” They looked at each other. The first said to the second, “You say.” The second said to the third, “You say, please.”
The priest said, “Say what your prayer is! Are you saying our Lord’s Prayer or not?”
They said, “To be frank with you, we don’t know any prayer. We have invented a prayer of our own and we are very embarrassed — how to say it? But if you ask we have to say it. We have heard that God is a trinity: the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. We are three and he is also three, so we have made a small prayer of our own: ‘You are three, we are three: Have mercy on us!’”
The priest said, “What nonsense! Is this prayer? You fools, I will teach you the right prayer.” And he recited the Lord’s Prayer.
And those three poor people said, “Please repeat it once more, because we are uneducated, we may forget.” He repeated it and they asked, “Once more – we are three, repeat it at least three times.” So he repeated it again, and then very happy, satisfied, he went back in his boat.
Just in the middle of the lake, he was surprised, his boatman was surprised! Those three poor people were coming running on the water! And they said, “Wait! Please one more time – we have forgotten the prayer!”
Now it was the turn of the priest to touch their feet, and he said, “Forget what I have taught you. Your prayer has been heard, my prayer has not been heard yet. You continue with your old prayer. I was utterly wrong to say anything to you. Please forgive me!”
God values not the words, the grammar, or the language, but the feelings, the love, the sincerity, the involvement behind the prayer.
One winter’s day, Shiek Shibli was sitting with his disciples around a fire when a smouldering log of wood caught his attention. As the log was slightly wet, the heat was driving drops of liquid from it at one end. After a moment or two of reflection, Shibli said to his disciples:
“How can you, who profess to have deep love and devotion for the Lord, truly say that you are burning in the pangs of separation from Him? I see no tears of sadness or longing in your eyes. Look at this little log, how it burns and cries. I say to you all, learn a lesson from this humble piece of wood.”
In God’s eyes, a heart-felt prayer is far superior to a lip-born one.
This conversation is reported to have taken place between Lord Guruvayurappan and Narayana Bhattathiri while writing Sri Narayaneeyam.
Bhattathiri : My Lord! What is your favourite Naivedyam?
Lord: Paayasam (Milk pudding).
Bhattathiri: If I do not have the means to offer you Paayasam?
Lord: I’ll be happy with a little beaten rice and a bit of jaggery.
Bhattathiri: If I cannot offer you even that?
Lord: Banana, milk, butter, curd… I’ll accept any one of these.
Bhattathiri : My Lord! If I cannot offer even that?
Lord: I’ll gladly accept two leaves of tulasi and a spoon of water!
Bhattathiri: If in case that too becomes impossible, then?
Lord: When you despair that you are unable to offer me anything, don’t worry. In your prayer, if you can bring out a drop of tear in My loving remembrance, I’ll accept that teardrop as the highest offering!
Narayana Bhattathiri wept uncontrollably.
अनत वैकुण्ठ मुकुन्द कृष्ण गोविन्द दामोदर माधवेति | वक्तुं समार्थोऽपि न वक्ति कश्चित् अहो जनानां व्यसनाभिमुख्यम्||
“How easy it is to chant the names of the Lord- Ananta, Vaikuntha, Mukunda, Krishna, Govinda, Damodara, Madhava etc.!
Everyone is capable of taking His names. But nobody chants them. Alas! How deeply we are inclined to the path of evil!” says Kulashekhara Alwar in Mukundamala.
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