Bhakti

God’s Grace

How can we connect to divine grace? To find out, please read my new article in the Speaking Tree section of the Economic Times (Nov 28, 2020).

Grace at the Workplace

At the workplace, divine grace is available around us. It is up to us, as seekers, to recognise this grace. God’s grace becomes available as guidance and blessings from mentors and managers, as guidance from technical literature and via saints and scriptures, as positive energy from lamps lit as invocation and through virtues like forgiveness and patience.

It is divine grace that protects us from all kinds of sufferings, brings us in contact with true and spiritual friends, gets reflected as selflessness in our work, and provides us with basics like food and other essentials.

Divine grace, in one of its highest forms, becomes bhakti, the basis of our spiritual connection to God. Once we experience bhakti, devotional love of God, peace and eternal happiness will follow.

God, who is all-pervading, can be remembered periodically even at our workplace by connecting to Him whenever we feel like. We can ask for protection from sufferings of body, mind and soul, for spiritual guidance, for blessing us with love and for our liberation.

We can share our thoughts and feelings for we will not be judged; we can only hope for more grace. Because divine grace is for everyone, multiple ways exist to access it.

While the devotional connect to grace is through surrender, the wise connect to it also through meditation, and the more active seekers access it through selflessness in their work. To them, work is worship.

Diwali: Celebrating the Darshan of Sita-Rama

In the treta yuga, the people of Ayodhya celebrated their first Diwali on Sri Sita-Rama’s return to their hometown from Lanka. The lighting of lamps on this occasion was subsequently followed by the darshan of Rama. In our age, we can view this popular festival as an opportunity to welcome Sita-Rama in our lives. It reminds us that by dispelling darkness from our mind, we too can be blessed with the darshan and refuge of Rama.

It is not surprising that Diwali follows Dusshera, the victory of dharma, and is a bigger festival than Dusshera. If Dusshera is the defeat of unrighteousness, Diwali signifies the Rama’s revelation to the jiva. Interestingly, the face-to-face meeting of Ayodhya’s subjects with their ideal king and an incarnation of God was the result of fourteen years of longing — a kind of God’s remembrance. This tells us something about the natural sequence of events in devotion: Remembrance and alignment with dharma are the precursors to God’s darshan, which is a major aim of devotional spirituality.

Once a jiva who adores the Lord sees him, separation again from the Divine may not be possible. According to the Adhyatama Ramayana, the residents of Ayodhya became so attached to Rama that they never separated after celebrating their first Diwali. When Rama completed his divine play on Earth and left for his abode, Saket Dham, all his subjects and beings who were devoted to him, except Lord Hanuman, Vibhishan, and Jambvant — the immortal beings — renounced their bodies and were guided to the higher worlds (lokas). Hanuman was instructed to remain on Earth so that he could guide humanity towards Rama.

On the auspicious festival of Diwali, Sita Devi is also worshipped in her aspect as Mother Goddess Lakshmi, the mother of the universe. In our prayers, we can request Devi Sita for granting us bhakti — and the desire for letting go. She can always bestow upon us one of the most precious gifts that exist: firm trust in Rama. Surrender to Sita-Rama, who transcend nature, may ensure that the right words flow from our mind and mouth as we put our wish list before God on one of the most auspicious festivals of the globe.

(Content for this post was mainly derived from a previous post on this blog.)

Lord Rama: Selected Interesting Facts

Given below are some interesting facts about Lord Rama, who has limitless divine qualities.

  1. Rama is the most ideal and accessible form of God — the Supreme God who also chose to live with us — on Earth. He is God as how God should be.
  2. It was Rama’s name that was chanted by saints like Sri Ramananda, St. Tulasidasa, St. Thyagaraja, St. Mirabai, St. Raidasa, St. Tukarama, and Samarth Guru Ramadas. These saints have had the highest impact, in recent times, on Hindu spirituality; the full list of his devotees is very big.
  3. In the Adhyatma Ramayana, at the beginning of his fourteen-year long exile, when Rama asked Rishi Valmiki where he could live in the forest, Valmiki replied, “You, the Lord of all, already live everywhere – in all beings.”
  4. Goswami Tulasidasa says that his Lord, Sri Rama, is beyond comparison and “Rama is only comparable to himself … If one compares the Sun to a billion fireflies, it is, in fact, a criticism of the Sun.” This implies that all metaphors and adjectives used for the glorification of Rama are trivial, but Rama accepts them out of his mercy on beings; they may get counted as prayers.
  5. Rama’s name is bigger than the words Paramatma, Para Brahman, and Paratpara Brahman — all of them combined.
  6. From a human perspective, Rama has the strongest astrological chart mathematically possible.
  7. During his divine plays on Earth, Rama was the disciple of Brahmarishi Vasistha — the topmost sage of Hinduism. Some of the questions he asked his guru are documented in the Yogavasistha.
  8. Rama’s ista devata is Lord Shiva. Rama is the ista devata of Lord Hanuman, the ultimate Vaishnava.
  9. Diwali, the top Hindu festival, also known as the festival of lights, celebrates Rama’s return to Ayodhya from exile.

When Vishnu blessed Dhruva

Once upon a time, a five year old prince named Dhruva lived in a palace with his father, who was the king, his mother, and his step-mother. While the child was well supported by his mother, his father and step-mother, at times, mistreated him. Depressed, the child consulted his mother about how he could obtain better care from his father. Dhruva’s mother said, “Our ill luck may be behind what is happening with us. But there is a solution to every problem. Why don’t you consult a sage?”

Dhruva met a sage, who clearly understood what the problem was. The sage said, “Changing the attitude of people towards you is not an easy task. You can make yourself more worthy of your family’s love by worshiping Vishnu, the Supreme Soul. Vishnu will change your destiny. He will also give you a designation in this universe that you truly deserve.”

Dhruva followed the sage’s advice and started worshipping Vishnu regularly. After a few months, Vishnu appeared and blessed Dhruva with spiritual knowledge, love of his family, and an improved fate. God liked his new child devotee so much that He blessed Dhruva with a position in the universe that none had; Dhruva was blessed with thousands times more radiance than the sun. Even today, the pole star in the night sky, which represents a fraction of Dhruva’s manifested energy, reminds us of God’s enormous grace on Dhruva.

Sacred symbols in Hindu spirituality

What do the sacred symbols of the swan, lotus, turtle, and peepal tree signify in Hindu spirituality? To find out, please read my new article from the Speaking Tree section of the Times of India (Jan 27, 2020).

You can right click on the images below and select “View Image” to read the article.

Learning, detachment and sacred symbols

Connecting to the source of happiness

Whenever we do something for God, our effort becomes a means of bringing us closer to God — the source of all happiness. In other words, we can gain happiness from our simplest efforts by offering them to God.

Efforts that convert to fame and money may have their importance in the real world but are considered perishables in spirituality. On the other hand, if we read a prayer to God or light a candle in front an image of God, it may bring more permanent results in terms of happiness. Why? Because God, who dwells in every heart and is the real witness of all our karma, gives the fruits of every action according to his own wish. If we have done something that should attract happiness, God will eventually give it to us.

Even career-conscious human beings can gain permanent happiness by forming a relationship with God. One approach of connecting to happiness on the workplace is by forming a harmony with karma yoga. To trigger this yoga, we have to make sure that we trust God. By remembering God at times and by surrendering our actions to God, we can remain unmoved by success and failure. As we move forward, we will see that our trust on God makes God’s grace the source of our happiness, not material success.

Knowledge from scriptures and self-realized individuals has its importance in guiding us towards happiness. In fact, scriptures supposedly provide us with viewpoints of human beings, generally saints, who have already realized God.  Because God may directly guide a human being towards himself through inspirations and other means, personal experiences are equally important in spirituality. Personal spiritual experiences can range from chanting a name of God and listening to discourses to having a face-to-face meeting with God (darshan), where applicable. In our professional endeavours or our spiritual journey, whenever in doubt, we can always request God to guide us rather than making concrete assumptions about how the universe works or what our favourite scripture actually says.

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