[Advaita-l] On Karma Yoga: V - Devotion and Devotee

murali mohan murali_mohan at yahoo.com
Fri Dec 30 08:23:26 CST 2005

If it is all about role playing, then why were great people like Meera Bhai not able to play the dual role of wife and devotee ?  Why could not she see the same Krishna she was seeing everywhere in her husband also ?
  kuntimaddi sadananda <kuntimaddisada at yahoo.com> wrote:
    Devotion and Devotee

Love for higher is called devotion, while love for the lower is called
lust. One rises in devotion while the other falls in love or lust. 
What constitutes ‘higher’? That which provides an inspiration, that
which integrates the mind and intellect, that which makes the mind calm
and quite, and that which energizes an individual is called the higher
goal. Higher the goal, higher the energy that one can tap from the goal
itself. An inspired action can follow from the one who has high goal
provided his mind is fully dedicated or devoted to the action. A puny
man with a stick in his and handful of salt in the other could inspire
the whole nation and shake the whole British Empire only because of his
complete surrenderance to the highest goal. 

Love demands sacrifice. ‘I love you, but
’ that but does not come when
there is pure love. This is shown beautifully in Ramanand Sagar’s
Ramayana Series where Bharata goes to forest to bring Rama back to
Ayodhya. He goes to the forest with notion that his devotion to Rama is
greater than Rama’s commitment to Dharma, and Rama has to oblige to
return to Ayodhya. Janaka points out that devotion is greater than
dharma provided one surrenders to his Lord. In surrenderance, there is
no demand of ‘what I want’ other than fulfilling only whatever the Lord
wants – ‘thy will be done not mine’ should be the understanding. Iswara
arpaNa will be transformed as Iswara aajna or daiva iccha – His will or
His desire. 

Role of a Devotee:

Life involves playing many roles and transacting with duality. From
morning until night and from birth to death one is constantly playing
roles. I am a son, brother, husband, father, employee, citizen, etc. 
All these are roles that I play. When I encounter my father, I am a son;
when I encounter my daughter, I am a father; when I encounter my wife I
am a husband; and when I encounter my office I am an employee, etc. Thus
with each encounter I play a different role. All roles are temporal
roles since I am not a father all the time. I am a father only when I
encounter my daughter, and husband only when I encounter my wife and
likewise the other roles. In each role, I have to play my role as best
as I can to make the drama of life as beautiful as possible. Life is a
drama and one has to play the roles as long as one lives. Playing the
game of life is not a problem, provided I know how to play. In the
role-playing, I do face the problems in those roles; and that is part of
the play. As a father, I may face a problem but as a husband or
employee, I have no problems. The father role has a problem but those
problems have nothing to do with other roles. If I am good actor
playing different roles, each role is played independent of other roles.
Unfortunately, our problem is we do not know how to act in the drama of
life. When father-role has a problem in the father-daughter set-up, I am
carried away with that problem affecting my play in the other roles.
Then playing all the roles becomes a problem. However, roles will have
a problems and that is the nature of the roles and the nature of the
drama of life itself. There should not be any problem if the roles have
a problem; otherwise, the drama will be dull. However, if the problem
of a role is taken as my problem, then I have a real problem. This is
our number one problem. 

Just as I am playing the role of father when I encounter my daughter,
and role as a husband when I encounter my wife, I play the role of
devotee when I go the temple. Once out of the temple, I am back to
other roles. Thus, unfortunately, the role of devotee is also taken as
a temporal role like any other role. My relationship with the Lord has
become like any other relationships – that means I have not understood
what Lord means. I have not recognized that Lord is everywhere and in
every ‘set-up’. Therefore a devotee’s role is not a temporal role,
since Lord and I are present in every set-up that I am involved
(antarbahischa tat sarvam vyaapta naaraayana sthitaH – Narayana is
inside as well as outside – there is no place where He is not). If I
start recognizing this fact, then my role as a devotee and my
relationship to the Lord become a fundamental relationship, independent
of time and space. I cannot but be a devotee all the time, since I
cannot but encounter the Lord all the time, and in all encounters. 

If we examine this carefully, we have to play two roles all the time,
one a temporal role depending on the set-up and the other a devotee role
in any set-up. Hence, I am father plus a devotee, a husband plus a
devotee, a son plus a devotee, an employee plus a devotee, a seeker plus
a devotee. My devotee’s role remains constant while the other roles
keep changing with the changing set-up. First thing to do is to
recognize this fact and have constant awareness that Lord is there
everywhere, and I cannot afford not to be a devotee all the time. We
cannot even afford to ignore this relationship, since unlike other
relationships this is a fundamental relationship in all relationships. 
When I love my daughter, I automatically am conscious of her presence
when she is there and am ready to sacrifice for her happiness. The love
flows in all my dealings with her. Similarly when I have the devotion
(love for the higher is devotion) for the Lord, I have to begin to
recognize His presence wherever he is and offer with love whatever I
can. Only way to win over the Lord is by devotion. This is beautifully
depicted in the story of ‘Shree Krishna Tulaabhaaram’ in Bhagavatam. 
Satyabhaama wanted to win over Krishna by offering equivalent weight of
gold. However, she did not realize that there is no way Krishna who
supports the whole universe can be weighed by any amount of gold. On
the other hand, Rukmini wins over him with just a leaf of tulasi offered
with devotion. Krishna says:

patram pushpam phalam toyam yo me bhaktyaa prayacchati|
tadam bhaktupahRitam ashnaame priyataatmanaH||
Whoever offers me a leaf, a flower, a fruit or water desiring nothing
but with full devotion, I will accept it very gladly. 

Hence, ‘yat karoti yad ashnaati .. tat kurushve madarpanam’ whatever you
do and whatever you eat .. offer it to me’ can happens once I recognize
that I have to play the role of the devotee all the time. But fact of
the matter is, whatever I do or eat, it is automatically offered to him
– since I have only choice in action but not in the results and He is
the one who takes the action and return the results. He is already
receiving the action whether I offer it to him or not. Similarly, he is
the one who as vaiswaanara staying inside and digesting all that food
that I eat. When he is already receiving everything anyway, why does He
ask us to offer them with devotion? 

When one offers with devotion, two things happen. First, we are
recognizing the fact that He is everywhere and everything belongs to
Him. So what we are offering is not ours but His only. Then, what we
are offering is only our notions that it is ours. We are essentially
offering our ahankaara and mamakaara, the notions that ‘I am the doer
and I am the enjoyer’, which bind us down to our karma. 

Second thing is in terms of our role-playing. We discussed that we are
playing two roles, a husband plus a devotee, father plus a devotee, etc.
Husband plus a devotee becomes a devoted husband. Father plus a
devotee becomes a devoted father. Similarly a devoted employee, a
devoted citizen, etc. Every action becomes a devoted action, with Him
present. When one performs one’s best, then it becomes a devoted action.
Then the action itself becomes a prayer to the Lord. Thus, not only I
recognize His presence everywhere, I become a full time devotee, and the
actions and the role that I play become devoted actions and devoted
role. Then karma becomes karma yoga. Every action becomes a yagna, or
for yagna, since yagna also means the Lord. ‘yagno yagnapatiH yagvaa
yagnaago yagnavaahanaH’ says in Vishnu sahasra naamaavali. Hence, do
the actions in the spirit of yagna also implies do the action for
parameswara preetyartham – perform the action to please the Lord. Even
while chanting the Vishnu sahasra naamaavali, we chant – Shree mahaa
Vishnu preetyartham – for the pleasure of mahaavishnu only we are
chanting this and not for our personal gains. Whatever that comes
unasked is received with reverence as ‘prasaadam’. 

How do I become a full time devotee? Swami Dayanandaji used to tell a
story. There was young boy who was hired as cook by a gentleman. Since
the boy was very much interested in music, he used to hum and sing as he
was cooking. Since he was a good cook, the gentleman did not mind his
singing. When a visitor came and heard the singing, he asked the
gentleman – “who is singing in the kitchen?” The gentleman responded,
“Oh! That is my cook. He likes to sing”. The visitor said, “He is good,
why don’t you let him learn music?”. The gentleman agreed and arranged
for music lessons for the cook. Because of his interest, the boy
practiced a lot and slowly graduated from that teacher and then the next
teacher and so on until he became an expert in music. He became a
professional singer much sought after for music programs. Ones he had a
program in the same town where the gentleman is living, and he visited
him to pay his respects. Since he knows the gentleman’s tastes, he went
into the kitchen to cook something for him. When a visitor asked who is
cooking in the kitchen, the gentleman responded, “Oh! That is the famous
musician who cooking in the kitchen”. The visitor was very much
surprised why the famous musician is cooking in the gentleman’s kitchen.

Before it was a cook that was singing – now the great musician is
cooking. Whatever he does now, it is that great musician that is doing.
The transformation is complete. A cook is transformed into a great
musician – How? It is only by saadhana, that involves a single pointed
effort withdrawing from all other dissipative pursuits. 

ananyaashchitayanto maam ye janaaH paryupaasate|
teshhaam nityaabhiyuktaanaam yogakshemam vahaamyaham||
without any other thought in mind who thinks of me all the time and
worships me, desiring nothing, I will take care of him completely. 

Thus, doing daily prayer and performing the panca mahaa yagnas,
meditating on the glories of the Lord are essentially the process to
transform oneself into a full time devotee. Krishna emphasizes that
‘abyaasa and viaragya’ i.e. constant practice and detachment from all
other dissipative pursuits, are the two essential tools for one’s

Therefore, bhakti manifests at the action level as karmayoga. I cannot
but offer everything to him. Once I recognize that everything actually
belongs to him, what is there left for me to offer. ‘tvadiiyam vastu
govinda tubhyameva samarpaye’, Oh| Lord this is all yours and I am
offering it to you what belongs to you’. What I am offering then is
only my notions that they are mine. Krishna understands our language
and takes only our devotion and returns back what He thinks we need for
our growth. 

End of Part V

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