bhakti

Renunciation by King Janaka

Once upon a time, Janaka, the king of Mithila, became disinterested in worldly affairs. After some serious contemplation, he informed his wife, ”I no longer feel interested in materialism. I am planning to hand over the crown to someone else and move to the forest.” His wife, the wise Sunaina Devi, took Janaka to the balcony of their palace and asked him to take a look at the people, standing in a queue near the base of the palace, who were obtaining free food from the royal kitchen.

Sunaina said, ”Renunciation is always a good idea. But the next king may not be as compassionate as you are. Your decision may hurtfully affect the lives of all the people who depend on your presence today. Besides, renunciation may have multiple variants. You may leave home and wander all around the world, searching for self-realization. Or you may choose to stay at home and renounce the whole world; your own desires and distractions may be blocking your spiritual growth, not your family and home.” Janaka chose to stay at home. With time, he became a seer himself, while successfully carrying out the responsibilities of a king. Janaka’s spiritual evolution set an example, for ages to come, around how human beings can finely harmonize virtues and duties with self-realization.

Connecting to Lord Rama

Chanting Ramanama, the name of Rama, is a very simple and effective method to connect to Lord Rama (God). Sometimes, chanting Ramanama for a few minutes (with a devotional feel) is better than chanting for half an hour. In the beginning, there is no need to aim for long periods of time. Once interest develops and if our health permits, the duration of worship can be increased.

Reading, listening to pravachan (discourses), and listening to bhajans (devotional songs) are also forms of bhakti and complement chanting and praying to God very well. As for which books to study, we have to be very careful. Some books by today’s authors may be very nicely written but may totally lack spiritual connectivity; they may, in fact, disconnect us from God. Reading books by saints or devotional writers is a safe bet. My top suggestions are the Ramacharitamanasa and the Hanuman Chalisa.

Lord Hanuman, the top devotee of Lord Rama, likes connecting jivas (individual beings) to Rama — the Supreme God. Accordingly, Hanuman is the ultimate guru and savior for all devotees of Rama. We can request Lord Hanuman directly to guide us towards Lord Rama. We can just talk to Lord Hanuman as we would talk to a guru. Lord Hanuman and Lord Rama always listen to us.

Changes in my spiritual life

I am sharing my guest post from the White Hindu Blog at Patheos. The article is about my own spiritual life so far. Please check it out!

Changes in the spiritual life of a Hindu blogger

God lives in our hearts and homes as well

Image is from Pixabay

Which is the best place to start our search for God? Because there is no single correct answer, the workable answer depends on our disposition. We can search for God in churches, mosques, and temples — which are all traditional and established places for spiritual connectivity. These places can transfer positive energies as well as blessings from priests and saints who regularly visit them. We can also search for God in our homes. In fact, while we pray, we can request God to meet us in person one day.

Among all beings in the universe, God, the Supreme Being, is the most accessible to all. Because God is omnipresent, we can even remember Him periodically at our workplace and say a word or two to Him whenever we feel like. We can talk to Him while assuming that He lives in our own hearts and always listens.

Some saints believe that the power of God is present not only in every living being but also in every object. In one of his poems, Saint Kabirdasa says that humans often “forget that just like scent, which resides in flowers, it is the Divine who pervades every object and being” [1]. Along these lines, we can start our search for God by appreciating that God is the nourisher of every soul. At the same time, we should remember that God, being transcendental, is beyond every object and living being.

[1] I have mentioned this previously in a blog post.

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

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