Sathya Sai Baba’s Teachings on Devotion
Question from a Devotee: Swami! What should we do to receive God’s grace?
Bhagawan: There is no way other than devotion. Your wealth, scholarship, authority and physical personality cannot please God. It is only your devotion that He looks into.
Satyopanisad, Anil Kumar Kamaraju, Vol. 1, pp. 24-25.
Devotion is pure love for God
EMBODIMENTS of love! Any human being who has compassion for others, who adheres to Truth and who dedicates his body to the good of others will experience no serious trouble. The primary reason is one’s devotion to God.
Bhakthi (Devotion) is not something which man can acquire by himself. It is indeed the inherent principle animating man. Devotion manifests itself as love. This love is the supreme treasure of man. It is this treasure which enables man to live in this world. But few persons recognize this truth.
Time moves like a whirlwind. The allotted span of life for the body is melting away every moment like a block of ice. However, even before recognizing what is his duty, man departs from this world. What is the aim of human life? What is a man’s duty? It is to discover this truth that God has endowed man with a body. “Paropakaara artham idham shareeram” (This body is given for rendering help to others).
We live in society, depending on it for our needs. But, forgetting what they owe to society,
people lead selfish, self-centered lives. Service to society is the primary Karma (duty). Concern
for the welfare of all is Bhakthi (devotion). “Let all people be happy.” Awareness of this feeling
is Jnaana (true knowledge).
Devotion is a fragment of the Divine
Without recognizing the duty to serve society, without concern for the welfare of society, how
can the all-encompassing desire for the happiness of all, which is devotion, arise in anyone?
These three are intimately related like flower, render fruit and ripe fruit. The ripe fruit of
devotion confers the wisdom which eliminates differences. Devotion is a fragment of the Divine.
Without devotion, awareness of the Divine cannot be experienced. Equally, devotion without
consciousness of the Divine can only breed Ahamkaara (egoism).
Different people experience the bliss derived from devotion in different ways. One devotee
begins with repeatedly reciting the word Dhaasoham, Dhaasoham (I am His servant), expresses
his devotion as a servant of the Lord. In course of time, by frequent repetition of this word and
reminding himself of the Lord, he reaches the stage where the ‘dhaa’ drops away and only ‘soham’
remains. He begins to realize that he and the Lord are one. Starting as the servant of the Lord, he
realizes his identity with the Lord.
Another devotee, starting with a consciousness of the material body, contemplating on the Self,
merges in the higher Consciousness. How is he able to experience this subtle consciousness to
the physical body? Without this earthly body, the Chinmaya (subtle Self) cannot be experienced.
How did the transformation take place? How did the realization come that the Divine and the
individual self are not different, but are inextricably linked to each other? This is because the
Divine and the jeeva (the individual self) are united like substance and shadow. That is why
Vedhaantha declares “Eeshvaras sarva bhuuthaanaam” (Lord dwells in all living beings).
Dheha-prema and dhaiva-prema
In this context, the twofold nature of Prema (love) has to be understood. One is Dheha-Prema
(love associated with the body). The other is Dhaiva-Prema (Divine love). Dheha-prema relates
to experiences associated with the physical, the sensory and the natural. It is the identification
with the body that accounts for all sufferings and miseries. It is portentous and produces
Divine love on the contrary, is sacred and leads to auspicious and enduring well-being. Grief and
trouble are alien to divine love. Divine love sustains itself and is lasting. Bodily love depends on
others and is evanescent.
Every man should seek to acquire this divine love. The body, however, is an impediment in the
way. The entire world is caught up in the vast net of Anuraaga (attachment). This attachment is
an amazing Maaya (delusory) phenomenon. There is no connection between the body composed
of the Panchabhuthas (five basic elements) and the transcendental Aathma (Self). But the
delusory power of Maaya in the form of attachment brings about a link between the two. If this
were not the case, what is the relationship between one person and another? Who is a wife and
who is a husband? Who is a mother and who is a son? All these relationships have been brought
about by Anuraaga (attachment born of desire) and not by love. There is no attachment between
mother and son before the child is born. But after birth, Vaathsalyam (maternal affection) arises.
This affection is based on bodily relationship and is by its nature temporary.
True devotion knows no differences
Equally, in respect of the term Bhakthi, devotion is equated with performing puujas, observing
rituals, going on pilgrimages, etc. But these are not the true insignia of devotion. The true mark
of devotion is pure love of God. Without this pure love, bhajans, worship and the like are
artificial exercises and are valueless. They may appear to be devotional acts, but they do not
contain the essential sweetness of devotion. They resemble plastic flowers and fruits. A life
without love is like a barren wasteland. True devotion knows no differences. It sees unity in
diversity. Today, devotion is marked by various differences. Though God is one, He is
worshipped in many forms. Can this be called devotion? No. The one God is broken into
fragments. On the other hand, man has to unite the fragments and see the One. The Upanishads
proclaimed the unity suffusing the multiplicity as the Aathmik Principle. Today you have a myriad individuals, but the Spirit that dwells in all of them is one and the same.
Best way to serve God is to love all, serve all
One should regard love for God as the greatest treasure one can have. When you love God, you
will have love towards all because the Divine is in everyone. Therefore bear in mind: Love all;
serve all. The best way to serve God is to love all and serve all. Your devotion will get diluted if
you entertain differences between people. Devotion to Raama or Krishna becomes meaningless
if you do not practice their teachings. The worship of the Lord should be accompanied by leading
a Godly life. Only then bliss can be experienced.
God showers His grace according to one’s deserts [worthiness of reward]. He is the embodiment of Love. One’s bad qualities prevent one from realizing the grace of God. The fault lies with the individuals and not with God.
Hrishikesha sevanam Bhakthiruchyathe (Service to the Lord is called devotion). If you fill your
heart with love of God, you will secure all powers. Therefore, live in love. Redeem your lives
through love. Let love become your life-breath and the sole goal of your life.
Sathya Sai Speaks, Vol. 27, Chapter 22. Discourse in the Sai Ramesh Hall on August 21, 1994.
You toil day and night for this world, how many minutes do you devote for the Master of the World?
Sathya Sai’s Thought for the Day, December 16.
Children must grow up in the atmosphere of reverence, devotion, mutual service, and cooperation.
Sathya Sai’s Thought for the Day, December 27.