In a temple: Rituals vs. Devotion
Assume another similar real-world scenario, where a seeker goes to a nearby temple for worshipping the Deity everyday. But after continuing for a few days, the worship creates a sense of achievement in his mind. With some mutual admiration, the ego (ahamkara) darts off and the individual starts thinking that he, now closer to becoming a saint, is much superior to the people around him, especially the ones not present in the temple . Would you classify this person’s actions as devotional? Wouldn’t directly requesting the Deity for material gains be preferable to this kind of worship?
Many modern intellectuals like to group selfish rituals and devotion (bhakti) together. As a result of their approach, Hindu devotionalism gets wrongly interpreted as being ritualistic. At the same time, the idea of this post is not to follow the experts who label “ritual” as an inferior word, for that would be another mistake. But it only aims to underline that devotion and rituals are not synonyms. What is the take home message? A ritual may be an expression of devotion, but devotion does not need any rituals.
 Antaryami refers to the personality who knows the inner feelings of beings. Sakama karma refers to actions performed with a material desire; nishkama karma refers to selfless actions.
 Such phenomena are not limited to Hindu temples but can be observed in the places of worship of all world religions.
Feel free to share your views on rituals and devotion. Don’t hesitate if our views differ.