1300 years ago, India gave birth to a great jiṋána márgii by the name of Shankarácárya. He said that amongst all the avenues for salvation, devotion or bhakti is the best course. Now what is bhakti?
Bhaktirbhagavatosevá bhaktih premasvarúpinii,
Bhaktiránandarúpá ca bhaktih bhaktasya jiivanam.
It has been said that “Bhaktirbhagavatosevá”. The root verb “bhaj” plus the suffix-ktin make up the word bhakti. That means not giving any importance to worldly or physical things; all the thought-processes of one’s mind should be directed towards Parama Puruśa. Withdrawing the mind from the material world, those withdrawn mental propensities should be goaded towards Parama Puruśa. This is what is known as bhakti.
Now what is “bhagavatosevá”? How should people serve Parama Puruśa? Maharśi Nárada has said, “Bhaktibhagavatoseva”. Now how can one serve Parama Puruśa? Parama Puruśa does not want any sevá or service. But Parama Puruśa has many children in this universe, and you should serve them all. That service to His children is service or sevá to Him. It does not matter that He does not want any service. It is of no use to try to serve Parama Puruśa directly, for what can you offer to please him, to satisfy Him? There is nothing that you can offer to Him, for He has everything – He has no want. This world is full of precious stones and jewels. He owns them all. So what can you offer Him? What have you got with you to offer? Moreover, Parama Prakrti is His spouse. If even Parama Puruśa should ask for anything, Paramá Prakrti would provide it instantly. You do not have that capacity. What can Parama Puruśa ask from human beings? Suppose Parama Puruśa wanted a cup of coffee. It would take you a minute and a half to prepare it, whereas Paramá Prakrti would produce it in the twinkle of an eye. You could never match that performance. So what should you offer to Him.
“Deyaḿ kimapi bhavate Puruśottamaya”. “O Parama Puruśa, O my Lord Puruśottama, what can I offer to you? I can offer you nothing because I have nothing to offer. And whatever I would offer, such as flowers, garlands, sandal paste, whatever I want to offer you – all of those things have been created by you. That is why I am able to offer them to you. So the actual ownership is yours. The only difference is that they are being offered through my hands”.
“But I am accustomed to people telling me, O Parama Puruśa, that I am a third class devotee. I have also heard that those who are first class devotees, prominent bhaktas, famous bhaktas, have satisfied and pleased you so greatly with their action that they have managed to snatch away your mind from you. You have surrendered your mind, for the top bhaktas of yours have taken it away from you. So, if they have taken your mind, then you must have some vacuum – some want in you. But O Parama Puruśa, you don’t have to worry. I offer my mind to you – please accept it.”
One can please Parama Puruśa in this way.
21 December 1978, Calcutta