The Path of Love & Devotion Towards Spirituality
Of the various emotions emanating in the human mind, love and trust are the most potential. While an unconditional love and belief in one self leads to happiness, inner healing and well being, love for others helps in inculcating kindness and generosity in a person. The more love we harbour in our hearts towards the people around us, the more we learn how to value our relationship with them. Selfless love is an emotion which encompasses a wide array of other positive emotions. It is from love itself that a deep sense of attachment develops towards all our connections in life. When practiced with complete devotion true love paves way for complete liberation as well.
In ancient Sanatan Dharma among several other paths towards attaining spiritual wisdom, the path of complete love or devotion towards God is a particularly unique one. Similarly the mystic tradition of Sufism also revolves around intense love and dedication for attaining closeness with the supreme power.
Bhakti Yoga, which can also be called the Path of Devotion, pertains to the belief that ‘Moksha’ or salvation can be achieved through selflessness, utter devotion, love, and belief towards ones deity. The Bhakti movement began in India as a strong devotional trend which emanated from the southern states and eventually spread its roots towards northern Indian. Between the fifteenth and seventeen century this movement reached its zenith. The Bhakti school of thought was essentially also reformist in its spirit. It changed the archaic and rigid religious ideologies as it provided an individual centred alternative way to achieve proximity to the divine. This line of belief only centered around one’s own spirit of devotion and love towards the higher universal order. It was highly flexible in philosophy and did not involve any boundations of caste, race, gender or even religion. What was most distinctive about the Bhakti philosophy was that it did not bind the devotees into any elaborate customs and rituals but provided a freedom of expression. Worship through meditation, singing, poetry or devotional dance were few of the common expressions which the people engaged in. Vaishnavism was a prominent tradition associated with ardent worshipping of various ‘avatars’ of Lord Vishnu. Saints like Ramanuja, Chaitanya, Mirabai, Kabirdas and several others were associated with the Bhakti tradition. Many devotees did not belong to Hindu religion, however their contribution to the devotional literature is notable. Another notable religious movement which touched Indian society somewhere between the twelfth and thirteenth centuries was that of Sufism. It emanated from the tenets of Islam however it was notable for its crux being deep and complete love for God. It clearly rose above all religiosity in the sheer joy with which the believers freely practiced their worship. In the words of Idries Shah, “The union of the mind and intuition which brings about illumination, and the development which the Sufis seek, is based upon love.”
The essential character of both these traditions remains that while the worshipper was a lover, the God was considered to be the beloved. While talking of true Bhakti, Sri Aurobindo opined, “Others boast of their love for God. My boast is that I did not love God, it was he who loved me and forced me to belong to him.” While understanding these devotional traditions it becomes clear that, the faith which people had in their respective deities was expressed and experienced only as pure love. Such traditions completely cut across all religious lines and were infact a spiritual experience. While often a clear distinction is made between religion and spirituality, in the case of ideologies like Bhakti movement and Sufism, this line of distinction is completely blurred. Only due to their complete focus on love as the main source of obtaining liberation, they transcend the stereotypical phenomenon of religiosity. Here the worship converted into a total spiritual experience. Spiritual quest does not revolve around a particular objective or rests on certain rules.
Spirituality is infact an inner experience which transforms an individual’s perspective towards his external existence. It is more of a journey which leads to self discovery eventually. Only an inner realisation of one’s purpose in existence can lead to a search of larger meaning of life. The larger meaning remains an understanding of the deep link between higher universal order and the individual. The individual is only an integral component of the universe. He or she are mere microcosms of the larger world around them. Love and harmony are powerful emotions which define the relationship of individual with the higher power. Once the heart is brimming with unquestioning love for the divine then there is a complete surrendering of the ego. The atman or the soul becomes naturally one with the paramatman or the supreme soul. Devotion is simply becoming an integral part of the supreme power. A mind which is dedicated in Bhakti becomes opaque to all negative human feelings and inclinations. It is deeply cleansed of hatred and futile materialistic pursuits as well. Devotion itself becomes a spiritual journey which leads an individual towards inner joy, peace and satisfaction.
Each person perceives and expresses their spiritual inclination in different ways. While for some it stems from reaching inner depths through meditative disciple, for others it is more an outward expression of their faith. The path of spirituality may be ridden with challenges however the end is always an unparalleled happiness and peace. All contradictions in one’s mind melt away till there is absolute merging of individuality with the nature. We are nothing but just reflections of paramatman and spirituality is about understanding this pattern of reflection and connection.
(Hailing from Dehradun, the author is a graduate from Delhi School of Economics & a freelance content writer on social issues & spirituality)
Saturday, 13 July 2019 | Saumya Pande Mittal| in Devbhoomi Spiritual