Thursday, October 19, 2017

Navavidha Bhakti - 9 ways of Bhakti you should know

Friends you all know that people who believe in God will be worshiping God in one or the other way. Some people like to do shodasha pooja, some like doing Japa, some like meditating on God, some like singing bhajans……So how many types of bhakti are there? Which one suits you more? how to practice them? want to know?

First, we will try to know how many types of Bhakti (meaning devotion) are there. To understand this we will consider a Sloka from Shrimad Bhagavat Puranam.

Shravanam Kirtanam Vishnoh Smaranam Paadasevanam

Archanam Vandanam Daasyam Sakhyam Aatmanivedanam

The above sloka is told by Prahalada, one of the greatest devotee for whose protection Lord Vishnu came in Narasimha Avatar. As per the above sloka there 9 types of Bhakti marga

So now we will try to understand the concept of navavidha bhakti in detail so that you can choose one or more from them and by practicing them you can move close to God.

1. Shravanam – Hearing the names and glories of the Lord

Shravanam generally means hearing about Leelas or the greatness of God with great interest. So if you are a person with great interest in Ramayan, Mahabharat, Puranas, etc then this is the best way for you. The easy way for Shravanam is Satsang (getting good devotee as a friend). Because if you are with a person who is a great devotee, you can listen only about God, as the devotee can only talk about the glory of God. So by listening to him you are doing Shravanam.

Nowadays you can get pravachans about Ramayan, Mahabharat, Puranas, etc very easily online or on television as well. So instead of wasting your time by watching serial/movies you can watch/listen to them so that you can move close to God. If you like reading then you can buy Ramayan, Mahabharat, Puranas, etc and you can study by yourself.Generally, when you listen/read about God automatically you think about god forgetting everything else which is a form of Bhagavat Dhyana. A perfect example of shravana Bhakthi is Parikshit Maharaj (Abimanyu son & Grandson of Pandavas)

Parikshit Maharaj listen to shrimad Bhagavatam
Parikshit Maharaj listening to Shrimad Bhagavatam which is being narrated by Shukamaharshi

2. Keertanam – Chanting the glories of God

Keertanam is considered the best way of coming close to God in Kaliyuga. Keerthanam in an easy way means saying the bhagawan’s name again and again. Like saying Rama Rama Rama or Krishna Krishna Krishna or Shambho Shankara Shambho Shankara Shambo Shankara etc. It is considered an easy way because you can do this any time. For example, when you are traveling on Bus or Train you can keep saying the Lord’s name, or even when you are doing some work like cleaning your room you can keep saying lord’s name. You can also choose a Bhajan and keep singing it. It is also considered Keertanam.

Most people have a habit of singing filmy songs so if you can replace them with  Bhajan then you are doing Keertanam which will help you to move close to God. A perfect example for Keertana Bhakti is Narada Muni (Maharshi), who always keep saying Narayana Narayana Narayana.

Narada Maharshi chanting name of lord vishnu
Narada maharshi singing about lord narayana

3. Smaranam – Remebering the Lord

Smaranam is the constant remembrance of the Lord. We can consider Smaranam as the advanced stage of Shravanam and Keertanam. For example, think that you have listened about Lord Srirama for about 30 min or 1 hour or if you have done a bhajan of Lord Krishna. So after that, if you keep remembering the things which you have heard about Lord Sriraman or Lord Shrikrishna then it is called Smaranam. Doing Japa, a meditation on God …will come under Smaranam. A perfect example of Smarana Bhakthi is Bhakta Prahalad.

Prahalad in Vishnu smaranam

4. Padasevanam – Serving the Lord’s Feet

Padasevanam is the worship of the lord by concentrating upon his feet. If we are approaching the feet of anyone then it represents that we are keeping our attitude aside and asking them to take care of us. By doing pada pooja you are saying to God that you are keeping your life at his feet. In the temple, you might have seen or experienced that priest will keep Shatagopam on the devotee’s head. If you observe shatagopam will have God Paduka on it. So by offering our head under shatagopam we are saying Lord that we are at your feet. Matha Laxmi is the best example for Padasevana Bhakti.

Mata Laxmi serving lord Vishnu
Maha Laxmi worshipping the feet of Lord Vishnu

5. Archanam – Worshiping the Lord

Archanam or deity worship combines an external ritual with internal meditation. Archana can be done by offering flowers, fruits, leaves, food, or even water to the lord. It is a common thing in almost all families so I think there is no need to introduce it again. Generally, you can do Shodashopachra pooja, Sahasranama pooja, Ashtottara pooja, etc. But keep in mind that Bavana (your belief) is the most important thing in this. For example, while giving arathi think that you are giving it to Lord himself then it will take you close to God. But if you do it as physical work without bavana then it’s a waste.

Archana pooja
Doing Archana Pooja

6. Vandanam – Offering obeisance unto the Lord

Vandanam is a form of Bhakti where you will recognize that all the things you have, are given by God and you express your gratitude to God. For example, you got good food to eat, so before eating you say thanks to God. so in this way, if we observe everything we have, is given by God. So Vandana Bhakti means saying thanks to God for all the things he has given and it doesn’t mean saying thanks once and forgetting him. You should be grateful to him at every point of Time. The best example for Vandana Bhakti is Akrura..(devote of Lord Krishna)

Akrura driving chariot with Shri krishna and balarama sitting in the chariot
Akrura riding the chariot while krishna and balaram are sitting back

7. Daasyam – Serving the Lord as his Servant

In Daasya bhakti you consider Lord as your Swami, father, mother, and everything to you. You consider yourself as his Son /Servant. So what all you do, you will do for the happiness of your Swami. So what makes your swami happy?

It’s simple if you follow dharma then it’s the first step to make him Happy. In this Kind of Bhakti since you consider yourself a servant you don’t take credit for the good things you have done and you will not do bad as your swami will not like it. This kind of activity will bring you close to God which can lead to Moksha. The perfect example of Daasya Bhakti is Lord hanuman.

Hanuman doing Vandanam to Sitarama
Hanuman showing vadanam to Lord shriram and mata Sita

8. Sakhyam – Developing friendship with God

In sakhya bhakti, you consider God as your friend. So in this form of bhakti, you will share all your happiness, sorrows, and every moment of your life with God. You always feel that he is with you in every point of your life. The best example of sakhya bhakti is Arjun

Arjun takign suggestions from Krishna
Arjun taking suggestions from Lord Krishna

9. Aatma Nivedanam – Total surrender of oneself to the Lord

In Aatma Nivedanam you should offer everything to God including your body, mind, and soul. you should not have any personal and independent existence. You should leave all your karmas, dharmas and offer yourself to God. In Bhagavat Geetha Lord Shri Krishna says

” Sarva Darmaan Pari Tyajya Maamekam Sharanam Vraja….”

which means leave all your karmas & dharmas and surrender to me totally and I will liberate you from all your sins. A perfect example for this kind of bhakti is mahabali chakravarthy

Balicharavarthy offering himself to Lord
Mahabali Chakravarthy offering his soul and body to Lord Vamana

So friends are you already following any of the above-mentioned ways of Bhakti? If not why late choose one or more from the above-mentioned ways of bhakti and become close to God.

Thanks for reading

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