BHAKTI

I can love my friends, my parents and whoever I meet and admire. I can worship God, but how can I love LORD KRISHNA?

You can love Him if you understand that Sri Krishna is pure love and love alone. In order to realize that you have to continuously chant the Maha Mantra. Listen to the stories of Sri Krishna. That is the best way to develop love for Him.

While one is in deep devotion, something happens and suddenly you lose control over thoughts and start wondering about the things happening – you feel as if the Bhakti is totally lost. Please help. I am having such a problem.

Don’t worry. Such things are common in the early stages of devotion. When your devotion gets stronger and stronger, the frequency of such happenings automatically reduces and everything will be alright.

I am soon going to go to a foreign country. I want my mind to be filled with thoughts of Krishna. I love Him a lot, and I wish that someday He would consider me one of His crores of devotees, and look at me with affection, and take me to His service in Goloka. How do I ensure my concentration on Him in spite of all the other things and work that I am about to undertake?

Catch hold of the Divine Name and do your duties in this world. It is like applying oil in your hands while cutting jack fruit. With the Divine Name on your lips, your mind will never be stained by worldliness. People who chant Mahamantra are already at the door of Lord Sri Krishna’s affection.

I want to attain the Bhakti, Love and devotion for the God and for that I have to chant the Mahamantra and should read Bhagavatam. I am chanting the Mahamantra daily and recently thought of reading Bhagavatam. Can you please let me know from where should I start?

Yes. Start from the first chapter.

If everything happens as per karma, and fate cannot be defeated, then why should convince people about Bhakti?

Can you tell me if Bhakti is also in your fate or not? Convincing people about Bhakti is in your fate, asking this question is in your fate, and getting this answer from me is also in your fate!

How can we cultivate the love, devotion and care towards the supreme God? Sri Sri Swamiji mentioned that we should chant the Maha Mantra with devotion and love. So how can we cultivate this love and devotion inside ourselves?

The easiest way to cultivate this devotion and love is through the association of Sadhus and Mahans.

Is it true that even a Bhakta has to go through ‘Vichara’ in order to realize the Self?

No! Not at all!

In Bhagavatam, I remember reading that Bhakti is more difficult to attain than Mukti. Is your preaching (Nama Sankirtan) aiming at Bhakti or Mukti? If what Bhagavatam says is true, any other way to attain the Lord (other than bhakti) must be easier, isn’t it?

Bhakti can be divided into two types – Sadhana Bhakti and Sadhya Bhakti. Sadhya Bhakti is also known as Prema Bhakti. The goal of Sadhana bhakti is Sadhya bhakti, similar to the one of the Gopis. It is that Bhakti that Srimad Bhagavatam refers to as the most difficult, because, the state of Prema Bhakti is nothing but Mukti.
Sadhana bhakti is the nine types of Sadhanas that Prahlada says – Sravanam, Kirtanam, Smaranam, Pada Sevanam, Vandanam, Dasyam, Archanam, Sakhyam and Aatma Nivedanam. When these are done not expecting any worldly return, with the sole aim of attaining Prema Bhakti, it will take us to that state.
Generally, the term ‘Bhakti’ refers to Sadhana Bhakti – the path towards the goal. As a simple example, when we are in the process of making tea, we simply say that “the tea is being made” though tea is not done until the process is over. The same way, the term ‘Bhakti’ is generally used to denote the Sadhana bhakti. But, that is not what Srimad Bhagavatam refers to.

On a journey from one place to another we use a map which indicates the essential landmarks to confirm that we are on the right path. If one chooses Bhakti , what are these signs that one encounters as he progresses, which identify the location of the aspirant on the path?

According to Bhakti Shastras, there are 20 ‘lakshanas’ or characteristics that indicate the state of Bhakti. Horipilation, trembling of the body, loss of consciousness, eyeballs getting fixed upwards, sleeplessness, becoming leaner and paler, blood oozing out of hair nodules on the body – these are a few of them. The key among them is the feeling of ‘viraham’ or the loneliness felt by the separation from the beloved.
Instead of reading the Bhakti Shastras, one can merely read the life history of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and see how he exhibited all these Lakshanas.

Kindly explain the different types of Bhakti. Can’t we beg Sriman Narayana to give us Nishkamya Bhakti?

As described in our scriptures, a Bhakta can be viewed at three different levels, Aarthi, arthaarthi and Jignyasu.
An ‘Aarthi’ is one who worships the lord for the removal of sufferings.
An ‘Arthaarthi’ is one who performs Bhakti to the Lord to bless Him with comforts like wealth, fortune and even heaven.
A Jignyasu prays to the Lord for spiritual elevation, divine visions and Liberation.
Above all of these, there is a fourth level, where the devotion is unconditional. In this state, the devotee performs Bhakti for the love of Bhakti. Even after attainment of Liberation, this Jnaani performs Bhakti. This is the surpreme state called as Prema Bhakti.
Yes. You can pray for Nishkamya Bhakti. The Lord will bless you with the same.