From Nov. 25, 2018,

A story from Sri Ganapathy Sachidananda Swami

Sankeertana Saptaham

The fruit of developing deep love for divinity

Amŗta svarūpā ca- states Nārada bhakti sutras. Unswerving love towards the Lord is termed ‘ananya prema’. It is equivalent of nectar. He who has drunk this nectar is freed from the fear of death. He exits from the shackles of repeated births and deaths.

In the Eleventh Skanda (canto) of Srimad-Bhagavatam, referring to the devotee who has unswerving devotion, the Lord says- ‘He who has surrendered his mind totally unto Me does not seek anything barring Me. He rejects the position of Brahma (the creator), position of Indra (Lord of heaven), monarchy over earth, positions as supreme leaders of lower planetary systems (lower regions), rejects supernatural mystical powers such as Anima or even absolute liberation, seeking only Me’.

The devotee must, through such devotion, captivate the Lord’s heart. He must cultivate unswerving selfless love for the supreme. Only then can he experience and soak in the Lord’s divine love.

It is with infinite love that the Lord created this universe and filled it with all substances necessary for sustenance of living entities. It is with infinite love that He is nurturing and nourishing these entities. He too therefore entertains a small desire – ‘Look at Me. Love Me’- He asks. Hence it is enough if we love Him, express our gratitude to Him every minute. With this our life will acquire blessedness! In earning God’s love there are no restrictions whatsoever. There are no disciplines. Everyone is eligible for it.

Love for God drives away selfishness and unrest from within the person. Problems vanish. So does arrogance. With selfishness having been eroded, he now makes himself useful to others and thus becomes a boon to the society.

Ultimate victory is always his! With infinite love, he offers services to the parents who lovingly raised him and to his teachers and spiritual master who lovingly guide him on the journey of life. At all times, he strives for the well-being of the universe. He showers love upon those who have sought shelter under him and protects them. His anger is always under restraint. Such wondrous accomplishments are the outcome of cultivating unswerving love for the Supreme.

There is nothing that divine love demands. It is a love that is free from expectations from both ends. It purifies the person who has sought shelter. It also renders pure his surroundings. To a devotee who has reached the pinnacle of devotion the entire universe appears as the Lord himself. Compassion towards all forms of life gushes from his heart.

Visualizing the entire creation as the universal form (gross manifestation) of the Lord, he derives inexplicable bliss.

Just as the trees lovingly bear fruits, just as the rivers lovingly supply water, just as the clouds lovingly shower plentiful rain, such supreme devotee is lovingly inclined towards serving others. His unswerving devotion intensifies feelings of selflessness in him elevating him thus to supreme levels. The Supreme Lord delights in residing within the heart of such a devotee!

Innumerable are the devotees who have thus secured His ultimate love and have reached the highest levels! A true devotee never fears emergencies or difficulties. ‘I am merely an instrument. It is the Lord who is protecting me. He is holding my hand and leading me’- due to this firm faith he leads a peaceful life.

Understanding that bliss emerges from glorifying the Lord, from engaging in righteous deeds and from reaching out to the aid of others, he moves ahead in this direction thereby experiencing infinite bliss. Without distinguishing between friend, enemy, the affluent and the pauper he greets everyone alike and fills them with bliss. He equally loves those who love him and who despise him. At all times, he prays for universal well-being. Elevating himself to such supreme levels, he endears himself to the Lord and becomes an example for others. The sacred text Guru-Geeta details the benefit that emerges for such an exalted devotee.

Dhanyā mātā pitā dhanyō dhanyā vaṃśyā janā api
Dhanyā ca vasudhā yatra guru-bhaktaḥ prajāyate

Meaning: The parents of such a devotee attain blessedness. The members of his lineage attain blessedness. Those born in his country attain blessedness.

Previously Maharishi Suteekṣaṇa earned the Lord’s supreme love. His story is detailed in the Araṇya-kanda section of Srimad Ramayana. This revered saint eternally kept his gaze fixed upon the Supreme Lord due to which he enjoyed inexplicable infinite bliss. He therefore lost body consciousness. His body was enveloped with a thick layer of dust. As if in reward for this intense penance, Lord Rama visited him during His exile. Upon seeing each another, the Lord and the devotee eagerly rushed forward and held each other in a loving embrace. The Lord did not observe the dirt on his devotee’s body- He observed only devotion and love. Only the mind mattered!

The devotee was transported into limitless bliss merely with the vision and touch of his dearest Lord. His love for his devotee caused Lord Rama to visit Maharishi Suteekṣana’s ashram twice and accept the worship offered by him. Both the times He blessed the saint with His embrace!

Maharishi Suteekṣana’s Guru was Maharishi Agastya, who is greatly renowned for his supreme accomplishments and strengths. He too had infinite love for the Lord. In his hermitage, animals that were inherently inimical walked around as friends! Celestials as well as other great saints would often visit his hermitage due to the peaceful vibrations that pervaded therein. Even this supreme sage was blessed as Lord Srirama visited his hermitage. Lord Rama accepted the Vaishnava bow from him.

The word ‘devotion’ is synonymous with little Prahlada isn’t it? The boy’s devotion caused his father, demon-king Hiranyakashipu, to be elevated to higher levels. Furthermore, his devotion enabled 21 generations of his lineage to obtain salvation. When the prayer offered by this boy to Lord Narasimha is scrutinized minutely, it is evident that the prayer was primarily for universal well-being. A true devotee’s heart is always filled with such feelings! Such devotees always cause well-being to the entire universe.

Henceforth cultivate the habit of perceiving the Lord in everyone and in everything. This is the exact message preached by the Lord in the bhakti-yoga chapter of Bhagavad Gita. Through cultivation of infinite love towards the Supreme, you too can enjoy limitless bliss.

Let us now learn about the preaching given by the Lord previously to one of his cherished devotees. One morning a feeble old man arrived at the doorstep of a devotee begging for food. In delight the devotee remarked, ‘God’s grace has enabled us to obtain you as our guest’. The guest retorted, ‘Please do not make such meaningless statements. If God were to truly exist then this necessity of begging from door to door would not exist’.

The devotee was infuriated. Immediately he took back the food he had offered to the guest and rebuked the guest saying, ‘Kindly leave my home this very minute. I may tolerate harsh words against me but not against God. Who has permitted you to utter such terrible words against him? You indeed are filled with demonic tendencies. I am unable to tolerate your presence even for a second. I refuse to offer you food. Go away’. The beggar left the home.

That night the Lord appeared in the devotee’s dream and preached, ‘My son! It was improper on your part to drive away the guest who was hungry. For many long years he has been abusing me. Nevertheless I have been taking care of his needs all through. However even for one meal you did not wish to tolerate him. Please refrain from such action in future. Your deed has caused me pain.

Even those who abuse me are also my children – remember this always. You said to him, ‘You can abuse me but do not abuse my God’. Even this remark is faulty. Do I not exist within you? Hence recognize me. I exist within you, within him and within everyone in this universe. I exist everywhere.

Akin to Me, you too must learn to worship those who revere Me and also those who abuse Me. In every animal, human, bird, virtuous person as well as sinful person- learn to see My existence. Love only Me eternally’.

May this preaching eternally be imprinted in your mind! May you endear yourself to the Lord thereby elevating yourselves!