Smaranam is swimming against the forceful current of the river of Maya. Smaranam leads to exclusive meditation on God. The mind meditates on what is heard about the glories of God and His virtues, Names, etc., and forgets even the body and contents itself in the remembrance of God, just as Bhakt Dhruva, Ramakrishna paramahamsa did.
BHAKTI - 4/9 - PADASEVANAM
Padasevanam is serving the Lord's feet. To worship someone’s feet is to accept the humblest of approaches, and yet the Lord makes this attractive with His exquisite feet.
Sri Lakshmi, has perfected herself at pada-sevanam. This is remarkable, as noted in the Srimad Bhagavatam: “The goddess of fortune, although by nature is very restless and moving, could not quit the Lord’s feet.”
Devotees must approach the Lord as humble supplicants for even the goddess of fortune comes to Him in that way.
Bharata carried Sri Rama's Padukas (sandals ) with great reverence by placing them on his head as a mark of his respect to his elder brother who was like his father, guru and god. Bharata ruled Ayodhya as his brother's proxy by considering "the Padukas" as Sri Rama, yet another Padasevanam.
BHAKTI - 5/9 - ARCHANAM
Archanam is worship of the Lord. "Those who perform the worship of Vishnu in this world, attain the immortal and blissful state of Moksha." Thus says the Vishnu-Rahasya.
Worship can be done either with external materials or merely through an internal Bhava or strong feeling. The purpose of worship is to please the Lord, to purify the heart through surrender of the ego and love of God.
Bhagawan Sri Krishna says in Bhagawath Geetha
patram puspam phalam toyam
yo me bhaktya prayacchati
tad aham bhakty-upahrtam
(Ch 9 Ver 26)
If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit or water, I will accept it.
This mode of Bhakti is followed by many to attain the Lord - Parvathi Devi, Sri Raghavendra swamy, hunter devotee Kannappar, animals have also attained moksha by worshipping - Elephant, Spider, Ant, Cow (Kamadhenu).
BHAKTI - 6/9 - VANDANAM
Vandanam is prayer and prostration. Humble prostration touching the earth with the eight limbs of the body (Sashtanga-Namaskara), with faith and reverence, before a form of God, or prostration to all beings knowing them to be the forms of the One God, and getting absorbed in the Divine Love of the Lord is termed prostration to God.
In this form of devotion a devotee begins to see his favorite form of the Lord everywhere and in all beings and objects. The ego or Ahankara is effaced out completely through devout prayer and prostration to God. The Divine Grace descends upon the devotee and man becomes God.
Bhishma in Mahabharatha says”Even one bend of the head to Lord Sri Krishna is equal in merit to the completion of ten horse sacrifices. The latter does not bring about Liberation, but the former makes one God Himself”. Bhishma offered salutation to Sri Krishna in a choked voice and immediately, the Lord bestowed the Divine Knowledge upon Bhishma.
King Maha Bali, Akkrura (devoted uncle of Sri Krishna) and Gajendra Moksha are some devotees who attained the Lord following Vandanam Bhakti.
BHAKTI - 7/9 - DASYAM
Dasya-Bhakti is the love of God, as His servant. To serve God and carry out His wishes, realising His virtues, nature, mystery and glory, considering oneself as a servant of the Supreme Master, win His Divine Grace and attain thereby Immortality.
Serving and worshipping the Murtis in temples, sweeping the temples, meditating on God and mentally serving Him like a slave, serving the saints and the sages, serving the devotees of God, is also included in Dasya-Bhakti.
When Ravana asked Hanuman who he was, Hanuman immediately replied
“Daasoham Kosalendrasya - meaning, “Iam the servant of Kosala's king (Sri Rama)”.
Hanuman prayed to Lord Rama: "My dear Lord, if You like You can give me salvation from this material existence, or the privilege of merging into Your existence, but I do not wish any of those things. I do not wish anything which diminishes my relationship with You as servant to master, even after liberation."
Sri Lakshmana's Bhakti towards Sri Rama, Thirumangai Alwar, Thondaradippodi Alwar's Bhakti are all in the form of Dasya-Bhakti.
BHAKTI - 8/9 - SAKHYAM
Sakhya-Bhakti is the love of God, as His friend. To be always with the Lord, to treat Him as one's own friend, to be in His company at all times, to love Him as one's own Self. There is a higher transformation of the mundane into the eternal, as the physical love is turned into spiritual love.
The Bhagavata says: "Oh, how wonderful is the fortune of the people of Vraja, of cowherd Nanda whose dear friend is the perfect, eternal Brahman of Absolute Bliss!".
Arjuna with Sakhya-Bhakti had the greatest love and respect for Sri Krishna and never forgot his great and divine qualities. Lord Krishna as a friend of Arjuna explained life and the way to proceed along the divine path of realisation.
Sundaramurthy Nayanar (one of the 63 Nayanmaars) had the attitude of a friend towards Lord Shiva. He freely demanded of the Lord whatever he wanted without selfish desires but only for the sake of others.
BHAKTI - 9/9 - ATMA-NIVEDANAM
Atma-Nivedanam is complete self-surrender to God. The devotee totally surrenders to God, just like a kitten to its mother.
In the Vishnu-Sahasranama it is said: "The heart of one who has taken refuge in Vasudeva, who is wholly devoted to Vasudeva, gets entirely purified, and he attains Brahman, the Eternal."
As given in Srimad-Bhagavatam (11. 29.34):
_martyo yada tyakta-samasta-karma
niveditatma vicikirsito me
mayatma-bhuyaya ca kalpate vai_
A person who gives up all fruitive activities and offers himself entirely unto Me, eagerly desiring to render service unto Me, achieves liberation from birth and death and is promoted to the status of sharing My own opulences.
In Bhagavath Gita, Sri Krishna says :
_Ananyas chintayanto mam ye janah paryupasate |
Tesham nityabhiyuktanam yoga-kshemam vahamy-aham || (9.22)_
Once you are surrendered to God, once you take His refuge, then He takes on the responsibility to provide you with all that you need, and also protect that which you already have.
mam ekam saranam vraja |
aham tvam sarva-papebhyo
moksayisyami ma sucah || (18.66)_
Completely abandoning all bodily and mental dharma, such as varna and asrama, fully surrender to Me alone. I shall liberate you from all reactions to your sins. Do not grieve.
Rukmini Devi, Sri Andal, Bhakt Markandeya and Ambarisa Maharaja's Bhakti are all in the form of Atma-Nivedanam.
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