Devotion is the Life-Force of a Devotee

Posted By: Tapas Dev Tag: Scriptures Last Update: 11/11/2019

Bhaktihbhagavato sevá bhaktih premasvarúpińii;
Bhaktiránanda rupáca bhaktih bhaktasya jiivanam.

“Bhaktiránanda rupáca”. Bhakti is the embodiment of ánanda. What is ánanda? What is its visible expression? Ánanda + al suffix = ánanda. The root-verb “nand” means to taste joy, happiness or pleasure deep in the mind. When the entire mind is filled with ever-flowing bliss it is termed ánanda in psychological parlance. In the language of grammar and philosophy it is also ánanda.

In the language of grammar, too, when the mind becomes full to the brim with joy and happiness, it is termed “ánanda” [“á” means “entire”]. Suppose you have enjoyed a sumptuous feast. All the dishes were tasty except one: the curd was very, very sour. You could not derive total pleasure (ánanda) from the feast as one part of the feasting pleasure was absent. That is, one of the dishes was not at all palatable. So it was a very good feast except for the curd, which tasted very, very sour, as if it had just been taken from a tamarind tree.

In Saḿskrta, “nanda” means “a woman who has become highly pleased”, and “nánanda” means “a woman who is not completely pleased”, but is half-pleased or half-unhappy. In modern Bengali, “nánanda” is changed to “nanada” which means “husband’s sister”. She is not at all pleased when she has to welcome a sister-in-law in her house. In a corner of her mind she nurses a grievance against the girl who has so suddenly intruded upon her life, encroaching upon her position and authority. Thus, as she is not fully pleased, she cannot become completely nandá. That is why a husband’s sister is called “nánandá” in Saḿskrta and “nanada” in Bengali. But you should not give importance to such matters. I have simply used this example to help you understand, that is all. “Bhaktiránanda rupáca”. Pleasure is felt in the end. In its expressional form, that pleasure is called “ánanda”.

Now, let me explain the philosophical aspect of ánanda. In Ánanda Sútram it has been said, “Sukham anantam ánandam”. Joy and sorrow are the two expressions of the mind. Whenever the mind receives an object, there is an effect on the nervous system. When the nerves are put under a heavy pressure the effect is painful and it is called “sorrow”. If one hears a loud, screeching sound, the auditory nerves become over-burdened and one wishes the sound would stop. The poetaster, Bholá Moyra, wrote:

“Káker kańt́ha dháker vádya thámilei láge bhálo.”

Bholá Moyra was explaining what is good, and when it is good; what to eat and when; and what to see and when. He was asked, “When does the cawing of crows and the beating of drums sound good to the ear?” “When they stop,” he replied.

When the mind experiences a painful reaction, we call it “sorrow” and when it experiences a pleasing, relaxing reaction, we call it “joy” or “happiness”. Knowingly or unknowingly every human being is running after happiness, It is human nature. Not only is it human nature, it is the nature of all creatures. All birds and animals are in search of comfort and pleasure. Cats are constantly on the look-out for a warm, comfortable corner where they can curl up and sleep peacefully.

Sukham banchati sarvam taccadharma samudbhutam;
Tasmád dharmah sadá cárya sarva varnaeh prajatnatah.

Dharma was born out of this endless quest for happiness. One day, through experimentation, human beings discovered the true path of happiness. This was the starting point of dharmácarana [observance of dharma], the path on which people feel immense joy.

Tasmád dharmah sadá cárya sarva varnae prajatnatah.

Every human being, regardless of caste, creed or colour should practise dharmácarana. It is of no importance whether one is a labourer or an intellectual. The joy of dharmácarana flows from one and the same source and is so elevating that the mind cannot measure it. When an object is small, it can easily be measured with a tape measure. But when joy surpasses the capacity of the mind it becomes immeasurable. If sorrow becomes too intense to bear, one loses one’s equipoise and may even become senseless. When sorrow becomes this acute, it, too, can no longer be measured. So, unbearable sorrow and overwhelming joy are both beyond the scope of measurement. A person overwhelmed with joy may become senseless or may dance joyfully. That intense, immeasurable joy which leads one to infinity, is called “ánanda”.

Ucche is a bitter tasting vegetable which is not liked by everyone. Rasagollas [delicious Indian sweets], on the other hand, are rather satisfying to eat. However, the pleasure derived from eating a rasagolla is limited: while it sits on the tongue it is satisfying, but as soon as it goes down the throat, the pleasure ends. A rasagolla is ephemeral; only Parama Puruśa is infinite. No matter how you attempt to judge. Him, be it from the standpoint of His learning, education, love, temperament or authority, you will fail to fathom Him. He is immeasurable, He is infinite. When one comes in contact with Him one attains. infinite ánanda, not the limited pleasure of a rasagolla. When one experiences just a little extra joy, one tends to forget oneself. When one experiences infinite joy, what happens? One merges in the ocean of infinite joy thus attaining “savikalpa samádhi”. When that flow of joy becomes so great that one loses. one’s own identity and existence, it is called “nirvikalpa samádhi”. This happens due to extreme joy.

This explains ánanda from the grammatical point of view and sukhaḿ anantam ánandaḿ from the philosophical point of view.

“Bhaktirupánanda ca”. Bhakti is the embodiment of ánanda. Ánanda may also have an external manifestation. Yesterday, I spoke about “bhaktipremasvarúpińii”. Those established in bhakti cannot indulge in any form of duplicity. Radiating deep love for humanity, they work tirelessly to establish an ideal social Order free of all exploitation where human beings can stand up and fight against any type of injustice.

There is another expression of bhakti which occurs when devotees realize that all beings are created from ánanda, exist in ánanda and return to ánanda. This realization causes a radical change in their outlook – no longer can they differentiate between rich and poor, highborn and low-born. They observe an ocean of ánanda flowing within and around all created beings. “Rasa vae sah” – all are flowing in the same rasa, the same ocean of bliss. In that divine flow the devotees see Parama Puruśa dancing with each entity. In philosophy, this dance is called “rásaliilá” [divine play in the flow of bliss]. It does not mean that someone is actually playing a flute with all the humans and cows dancing around him. Rather, it means that all the entities of this beginningless and endless universe are floating in the ocean of cosmic bliss. There is no place for sorrow since sorrow only exists where petty interests clash and vie with each other. When the devotees clearly understand this they become established in “bhaktiránanda rupáca”.

When all humans are dancing in the same rhythm of Parama Puruśa, when they are all moving in the same ideational flow, should there be any distinction between rich and poor, high-bred and low-bred? Of course not. In this divine flow there is not even a distinction between devotees and non-devotees. Does Parama Puruśa ever exclude the non-devotees from His infinite, endless cosmic dance? Does He not feed and protect them too? Why should such a sense of distinction influence the human mind? Humans must keep such divisions and distinctions out of their minds. When all are dancing in the same flow of bliss what right does anyone have to discriminate against them? If one person rejects another, Parama Puruśa will be angry.

Who is Parama Puruśa? “Brahmaeva Gururekah ná parah”. Not only is He the creator of everything, He is also the Guru, the preceptor, the teacher. If any created being is neglected, the Guru will be angry. In the shástras it has been said;

“Shive ruśt́e gurustrátá gurao ruśt́ao na kashcana”.

If Shiva gets angry the Guru can save you from danger, but if the Guru becomes angry nobody can save you. Parama Puruśa is that Guru. Everybody is dancing in that ocean of ideation, that ocean of bliss. Nobody can ignore this divine flow of bliss; nobody should be prevented from enjoying that bliss.

“Bhaktih bhaktasya jiivanam”. Fish live in water – their existence depends upon it. If you pull a fish out of the water it dies. Humans are creatures of the land. If you keep a person immersed in water for a long time he or she will die. Land is a person’s life. Similarly, if devotees are unable to remain in a devotional environment, they will surely die. Wherever they go, they scour the earth, the oceans and the skies in search of other devotees. When two devotees meet they cling to each other in an embrace of deep affinity. For them, the company of a non-devotee is unbearable. Hence, “Bhaktih bhaktasya jiivanam.”

Devotion is the life-force of a devotee, and without it nothing can be achieved. When the life-force leaves a person’s body, death quickly follows. Similarly, if devotion is taken away from the devotees, they, tom, will die. So devotees always want to listen to topics of devotion – they do listen and they should listen. That is why devotees will never tolerate anything said against God or anything propagated against Parama Puruśa.

23 December 1979, Kalikata