“Even kings with heaps of wealth and vast dominion cannot compare with
an ant filled with love of God.” – Guru Nanak
Bhati yoga emphasizes on our dependence on god’s mercy. While karma is
activitiy centred and jnana focusses on knowledge and yoga is centred
on perfection, the path of bhakti however is unique because it is
‘dependency centred’- a practitioner depends on god’s mercy.
The very definition of mercy says we are unqualified; it’s granted to
us. Bhakti is based on getting this mercy. If I claim that I have been
a devotee of god since last fifty years and I deserve blessings, then
that is not seeking mercy. The moment I demand anything from god, I am
not practising bhakti yoga.
And this mood of calling out to god in simple dependence is called
humility. In a world where we are encouraged to ‘get what we want’ and
have ‘fierce self-belief’, it’s a refreshing experience to know I am
small and need mercy. This dependence factor, counterintuitively,
helps us feel more loved by god than all the toxic positivity that
floods the internet. To feel small and at the same time loved by the
universe/god is the success of a spiritual practise. And bhakti yoga
is founded on this principle- one’s smallness and god’s greatness.
This combination reaches perfection when we pray and seek forgiveness
daily from the lord.
Sometimes we may not even have things to pray for. It could just be an
ordinary day, with nothing exciting happening. At such times we could
simply spend some time with god, silently, either in kirtans or we
could sit in front of the deities or hear a class on the scriptures.
That’s when god’s love nourishes us the same way as in winter, if you
sit in front of fire, the fire warms you. You don’t need to be smart
or know the qualities of fire or figure out how to get warm- just be
with the fire of Krishna!
A friend shared, in confidence, a practise that has helped him feel
small and loved by god daily. As soon he wakes up in the morning, he
doesn’t grab the mobile phone nor does he look at the watch. He
neither rushes to exercise or shower. He first sits up straight on the
bed and silently connects with god. After five minutes of grateful
prayers to god, he rises slowly and clearly, feeling loved by god. At
the end of the day, again he makes sure he doesn’t hit the bed when
tired. He sits up, gives a report to his favourite manifestation of
god as lord jagannath, and after feeling connected, he sleeps. This
daily connection helps him face the daily onslaughts of the mind
bravely. He also feels loved and forgiven.
I was fascinated by his description and begged him to share more. He
was however reticent. I then asked him if he ever feels dry and bored
in his spiritual practise; does he feel lost that god doesn’t respond
to his prayers? He answered me by showing this beautiful quote of C.
S. Lewis that he had coloured in red and boldly written in his prayer
notebook: “When I lay these questions before god I get no answer. But
a rather special sort of ‘no answer.’ It is not the locked door. It is
more like a silent, certainly not uncompassionate, gaze. As though he
shook his head not in refusal but waiving the question. Like, ‘peace,
child; you don’t understand.”
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