All About Love

From Essence of Yoga, Swami Sivananda Saraswati

The term ‘bhakti’ comes from the root bhaj which means ‘to be attached to God’. Bhakti is the form of supreme love towards God. It is love for love’s sake. The devotee wants God and God alone. There is no selfish expectation here.

Bhakti is of the nature of nectar. It is the spontaneous outpouring of love towards God. It is pure unselfish love or shuddha prem. It is the sacred higher emotion with sublime sentiments that unites the devotee with the Lord. It has to be experienced by the devotees.

Bhakti is the basis of all religious life. Bhakti destroys vasanas and egoism. Bhakti elevates the mind to magnanimous heights. Bhakti is the master-key to open the chambers of wisdom. Bhakti culminates in jnana. Bhakti begins in two and ends in one. Para bhakti and jnana are one.

There is no virtue higher than love; there is no treasure higher than love; there is no dharma higher than love; there is no religion higher than love; because, love is truth and love is God. Love, prem and bhakti are synonymous terms. This world has come out of love. This world exists in love and this world ultimately dissolves in love. God is an embodiment of love. In every inch of His creation, you can verily understand His love.

A life without love, faith and devotion is a dreary waste. It is a real death. Love is divine. Love is the greatest power on earth. It is irresistible. It is love alone that can really conquer the heart of a man. Love subdues an enemy. Love can tame wild ferocious animals. Its power is infinite. Its depth is unfathomable. Its nature is ineffable. Its glory is indescribable.

The essence of religion is love. Therefore, develop pure love. Do you really want God? Do you really thirst for His darshan? Have you got real spiritual hunger? Only he who thirsts for darshan of God will develop love. Unto him alone, He will reveal Himself. God is a question of supply and demand. If there is a sincere demand for God, the supply will come at once. Develop the nine modes of bhakti gradually:

Hear the lilas of the Lord – this is shravana.

Sing His praise – this is kirtana.

Remember His Names – this is smarana.

Worship His lotus-feet – this is padaseva.

Offer flowers– this is archana.

Prostrate yourself before Him – this is vandana.

Do service unto Him – this is dasya bhava.

Make friendship with Him – this is sakhya bhava.

Do total unreserved self-surrender unto Him – this is atmanivedana.

Drink the essence

Sit not idly praying to God to help you, but be up and doing, as God helps only those who help themselves. Do the best you can and leave the rest to God. Serve the devotees. Remain in their company. Do japa and kirtan. Study Ramayana and Bhagavata. Live in Vrindavan or Ayodhya for some time. You will soon develop devotion.

Pray fervently like Prahlad. Sing like Radha. Repeat His names as Valmiki, Tukaram and Tulsidas did. Do kirtan like Gouranga. Weep in solitude like Mira because of the separation from the Lord. You will have darshan of the Lord this very second.

Kindle the light of love in your heart. Love all. Include all creatures in the warm embrace of your love. Cultivate vishva prem or all-embracing, all-inclusive cosmic love. Love is a mysterious divine glue that unites the hearts of all. It is a divine magical healing balm of very high potency.

Charge every action with pure love. Kill cunningness, greed, crookedness and selfishness. Immortality can be attained only by performing acts of kindness continuously. Hatred, anger and jealousy are removed by continuous service with a loving heart. You will get more strength, more joy, more satisfaction by doing kind acts. Practice of compassion, charitable acts, kind services purify and soften the heart; they turn the heart-lotus upwards and prepare the aspirant for the reception of divine light.

The shastras are endless. There is much to be known. Time is short. Obstacles are many. That which is the essence should be grasped, just as the swan takes the essence of milk alone from a mixture of water and milk. That essence is love or bhakti. Drink this essence and attain the everlasting abode of peace and immortality.