Devotion (Bhakti) and its relevance is discussed deeply by all religions today. Srimad Bhagavatam considers Devotion as an important concept for today’s generation. Schools of thought such as ISKCON invests a lot of time and energy in developing Devotion among the masses. What would be the reason for such actions?
(Image credit: Ian Sane)
The previous yugas (Satya Yuga, Treta Yuga and Dwapara Yuga) focussed on Insightful Knowledge (Jnana) and Detachment (Vairagya). But, these qualities are very rare today all over the world.
Business Sense of Knowledge
Knowledge is considered important only in terms of earning potential and career. People do learn a lot today. But, not without looking at tangible results out of that learning. So, detachment is not common among the masses. Even children are encouraged to learn to score marks to go to universities which would yield them high paying careers, instead of instilling a love for learning and concepts. “What is the scope for this subject?” is a common question when choosing a trade to learn. The scope refers to earning potential here. This situation is not going to change for a long time in the coming future.
For a distracted generation
People today are very distracted with low attention span and poor mental faculties. With such weakness, study and learning is difficult. Devotion is easier and practical here. Instead of understanding the principle behind actions, attention on the form and shape of a deity like Krishna, Shiva or Jesus becomes simple. Such devotion that arises in childhood often stays with people till their last breath. The deity becomes a friend, a father, a mother, a guide and a super figure who resolves your problems and difficulties. Great Masters teach us not to look at figurines of God as our Magical Problem Solvers. The way of devotion is a means of cleansing our Mind.
A Master Mind or a Slave Mind?
Mind is a good slave and a poor master. As a master, the mind keeps asking us for favours and wants. It keeps pushing us towards difficulties, sadness and pain. Most of us have mind as our master. In fact that is the default setting of humankind – Mind as Master. But, when mind becomes a slave, it uses its power to perform the tasks given by the intellect – to calculate, to estimate, to remember, to speak, to act and so on. In Indian thought, mind is cleansed and moved from the Master’s position to the Slave through devotional practices such as chanting and prayer.
Repeating one name of God thousands and millions of times over years helps in empowering us to very high levels. Failure and Loss will not be able to win over such a mind so easily. Probably this might be the reason for high levels of tolerance in this country.
Stories in Bhagavatam, Ramayana and Mahabharata are full of incidents of high tapasya. We have yogis and asuras who perform high intensity prayers for favours without food, sleep, rest and sometimes breath for years together. Devotion in the Kali Yuga does not ask for such intensity. A middle path is recommended for a devotee. Also, a devotee is not easily affected by negative elements. A person who has grown up in a culture of devotion does not become easy prey to depression, addictions and such evils. The faith in the power of God (the Self/ Atman) helps a devotee to counter negativity much more easily.
What is your take on devotion? Do you consider yourself to be devoted to any idea (even if it is Atheism)?