God is love. Love is God. God is nectar. God is prem. Bhakti is supreme love towards God. Bhakti is the greatest power on earth. It gushes from one’s pure heart. It redeems and saves. It purifies the heart. Devotion is the seed. Faith is the root. Service of the saints is the shower. Communion with the Lord is the fruit.
Bhakti is of two kinds – apara bhakti (a lower type of devotion) and para bhakti (supreme love). Ringing bells and waving lights is apara bhakti. A devotee who practises this has no expanded heart, is a sectarian and dislikes other kinds of bhaktas who worship other deities. In para bhakti, there is no ritualistic worship, the devotee is absorbed in God. In supreme love the devotee forgets himself entirely; he only thinks thoughts of God. Para bhakti and jnana are one. In the end the two become one.
Bhakti grows gradually just as you grow a flower or a tree in a garden. Cultivate bhakti in the garden of your heart gradually. Faith is necessary for attaining God-realisation. Faith can work wonders. Faith can move mountains. Faith can take you to the inner chambers of the Lord where reason dare not enter.
Japa (repetition of God’s name), kirtan (chanting), prayer, service of saints, study of books on bhakti – all are aids to devotion. So too is satvic (pure) food such as fruit and milk etc.
Evil company is the enemy of devotion. Give up evil company and take recourse to satsariga (or the company of saints). Pray to the Lord thus: “O adorable Lord of compassion and love! Give me faith and devotion. Let my mind be ever fixed on thy lotus feet. Let me have constant remembrance of thee. Let me sing thy glory always.”
* * * * *
A bhakta always does everything to please the Lord. He will abandon everything that displeases the Lord. Thus he corrects himself and removes all defects. He does not practise deliberate self-discipline like a yogi.