How long can you stagnate in the same class of devotion? Have you no wish to get promoted to the next higher class? In devotion (Bhakti), there are two classes, Sahaja-bhakti and Vishesha-bhakti. Sahaja-bhakti is satisfied with puja (worship), vrata (observing ritual worship), bhajan, namasmaran, (group singing, remembrance of Lord), pilgrimage, etc. Visesha-bhakti craves for purity of character, suppression of impulses, control of the mind, practice of daya, prema, shanti, ahimsa (compassion, love, peace and nonviolence), etc., and inquiry into the why and wherefore of man. It is a matter of shame that people stick to the same class of sahaja-bhakti year in and year out. When you clear these two, there is another higher class named Para Bhakti (Seeing God everywhere), too. Cleverness can correct and solve external problems; concentrated sadhana alone can correct and solve the internal crisis fuming within.
There is a vast difference between India five centuries ago, and India today, in the field of sense control. Today senses are allowed free play; every human being is a slave to greed, lust and egoism. The fault lies entirely with parents and elders. When children go to temples or religious discourses, they reprimand them and warn them that it is a sign of insanity. They tell them that religion is an old-age pursuit; it should not be taken seriously by youngsters! But, if only you encourage the children, they can equip themselves better for the battle of life. Every parent ought to advise their children: “Be convinced that there is God, guiding and guarding us. Remember Him with gratitude. Pray to Him to render you pure. Love all, serve all. Join good company. Visit temples and holy men.” Campaign against the temptations of the senses, conquer inner foes and triumph over your ego. That is the true victory that deserves celebration!
Some people are envious of the high standard of living experienced by people living in rich nations, but the poverty of India is much more congenial to the good life than the luxurious and vainglorious life of the west. The sea has a vast expanse of water, but can it quench the thirst of man? Similarly, however much riches and comfort a person may possess, if they have not cultivated detachment, all they’ve accumulated is but sheer waste. Detachment from sensual pleasures and objective pursuits helps the growth of Love towards God and the Godly. When you realise that God is in you, you will value yourself much more, for when you know that the piece of ‘glass’ you picked up is diamond, you will secure it in an iron safe, isn’t it? Similarly know that each one of you are carefully carved by a sculptor to become a charming idol of God, and conduct yourself accordingly.
Every passing day truly becomes holy, when you sanctify it by sadhana, not otherwise. Spiritual practices (Sadhana) can grow only in a field fertilised by love and nonviolence. Love or Prema is absolutely essential for devotion to God (bhakti). The love you have towards material objects, name, fame, wife and children, etc., should be sanctified by being subsumed by the more overpowering Love of God. Add two spoons of water to two seers of milk, the water too is appreciated as milk! At present your sadhana can be described only as mixing two litres of water with two spoons of milk, isn’t it? Let love for God fill and thrill your heart; then, you cannot hate any one, you cannot indulge in unhealthy rivalries, and you will not find fault with any one. Life will become soft, sweet and smooth.
God is not far from you. He is within you, in your own inner altar. All of you suffer because you are unable to discover Him there and draw peace and joy from that discovery. A washerman, standing knee-deep in a flowing river and washing his clothes therein, died of thirst because he failed to realise that the life-giving water was within his reach. Such is the story of man. He runs in desperate haste, to seek God outside and dies disappointed and distraught, only to be born again. Of course, you must be in the world, but remember, you need not be of it. The attention has to be fixed on the God within. In the Kannada country, there is a festival called Karaga. The central figure of this holy rite keeps many pots on his head, one over the other, and moves in the procession keeping step with the music; he has also to sing in tune with the rest and keep time to the beat of the drum. But, all the while he has his attention fixed on balancing the precarious tower on his head. So too, you must keep the goal of God-realisation before you, while engaged in the noisy and hilarious procession of life