What is bhakti? Love? Sacrifice? Or something esotericthat is beyond description?
In Bhagavad Gita Lord Krishna reveals his love for Arjuna thanks to latter’s bhakti for the Lord. Bhakti is love or devotion to the lord. But it must be unselfish love as a means of ‘devotional service.’ This is what Saranagati is all about. Either you surrender completely or you do not.
No wonder the best example for “Love for God” was personified byMirabai who when given a cup of poisonby her husband Rana drank it as nectar. The miracle worked thanks to Mira’s bhakti to Lord Krishna who turned into “prasad.” Mira had no desire for the throne, power or pelf. Her desire was solely to merge with super soul and bhakti became the easiest and the only medium.
Like Mira there were innumerable saints whose love and bhakti to the Supreme Lordis unparalleled. True bhakti seeks no reward or awards except merging with Him, the Almighty. It is the overwhelming love of individual soul that takes hold of the consciousness.Life then is in tune with God. In Gita Lord himself explains it:
Sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekamsharaṇaṁ vraja
Aham tvam sarva-papebhyo mokṣhayiṣhyami mashuchaḥ (Gita 18:66)
(Abandon all types of dharmas and simply surrender unto Me. I shall liberate you from all sinful reactions; do not fear). Indeed,true bhakti is total surrender.
God realisation is not possible with worldly attachment to material wealth. ‘I’ and ‘Mine’hamper the spiritual aspirant seeking ultimate truthacting as a veil. It is like seeing the Sun with dust in the eyes.
Sum and substance of life as we experience is in understanding that nothing exists without the Lord’s grace and bhakti personifies that axiomatic truth. Gopis longing for union with the Lordwere successful through sheer love for god and it worked wonders while many rishis could not attain godhood even if they had excelled in their severity of their penance. True bhakti overrides worldly considerations and that is when a soul rises beyond the ambit of karma bondage to merge with Paramatma.
Unfortunately, we humans misplace our love on material objects.Physical love overrides bhakti. It is so hollow that it turns into mere carnal love which is selfish and leads nowhere. This is what happened to Saint Tulsidas when he misjudged his love for his wife Ratnawali. Deeply attached to her he felt he could not live without her even for a minute.
Once Ratnawali was away to her mother’s house without letting Tulsidas know. When he came back home finding her missingimmediately rushed out at nighteven though it was raining to his in-laws house. Ratnawali was shocked to see her husbandat the unearthly hour driven by mad attachment to her body. She rebuked him saying:
“If you had shown even half the love you have for my body to Lord Rama you would have achieved divinity and redemption (free from cycle of life and death).”
These words found their mark and disturbed Tulsidas greatly. Without a second thought he walked out of the houseto the holy city of Prayag where he became a sadhu. His love for Lord Rama became one of tidal proportion leading him to write Ramcharitramanas, a magnum opus.
Tulsidas is an apt example of pure bhakti. As a selfish man his love was limited to his wife and the moment devotion and bhakti lying buried in him was kindled all his love for his wife turned into bhakti for the lord. It was this divine ecstasy which led him to be in communion with the Lord.