I have been doing regular puja (i think it ‘bhakti’). I am very anxious to inculcate vairagya along with bhakti. Otherwise i feel it to be selfish flattering of the almighty. please, I pray for your help to infuse me with a few thoughts that ignite vairagya and surrunder in me. please show me the way which leads to vairagya and surrunder.
I have heard.. One day an illiterate man came to Mullah Nasruddin with a letter he had received. “Mullah Nasruddin, please read this letter to me.”
Mullah Nasruddin looked at the letter, but could not make out a single word. So he told the man. “I am sorry, but I cannot read this.” The man cried: “For shame, Mullah Nasruddin ! You must be ashamed before the turban you wear (i.e. the sign of education)”
Mullah Nasruddin removed the turban from his own head and placed it on the head of the illiterate man, said: “There, now you wear the turban. If it gives some knowledge, read the letter yourself.”
Pooja is just like this turban of Mulla which many people wear and erringly suppose this to be “Bhakti”.. In fact most of people get this Turban from their parents and elders. A child thinks this Pooja must be giving them something special, some mystical powers, proximity to the unknown powers and ability to be holier than they are. But you realize that it is not true when you yourself wear the turban. Pooja is not Bhakti in any way, it most of the cases it is extended part of routine.. as good as brushing your teeth daily. And the most interesting fact about such a routine is that when you skip it for a day you feel as if you are not comfortable with proceedings of the day. You feel something is amiss… but same happens if you skip your bath. (Laughs) How come Pooja become superior unless it is expression of your devotion to the God personified rather than just another habit.
Vedvyaas in his compilation of Krishna’s leela in “Shreemadbhaagwatam” has beautifully depicted Bhakti to be mother of two sons.. namely “Gnyaan” and “Vairaagya”. But Pooja is not Bhakti and since it is not Bhakti it will never give birth to “Gyaan and Vairaagya”. When real pure Bhakti or devotion fills your heart and soul, your being starts trnsforming gradually. You start getting disengaged from the unworthy and mundane which is nothing but “Vairaagya” and also slowly and slowly you aproach the unexplored land of “supereme knowledge – Gnyaan”.
Reddy, you ask of inculcating Vairaagya by modifying the way you do Poooja, for you feel otherwise it is plain flattery. Yes it is flaterry.. and as I see, it is not even close to flattery!! People are more sincere and they mean more when they are doing such an act in front of their bosses. A boss can get angry on some idiocity of yours but poor Idol… It just happens. It is bound to happen. While you are doing Pooja you deepdown, subconsciously know that it is just another piece of stone which you are adorning with sandal paste, vermillion and flowers and so on.. So if your expressions and sincerity is not upto the mark no one is going to notice it. You can take it leniently, you dont have to bother about it. God or Goddess is not going to become angry and stop you if you did not offer Him/Her choice of fruits and really pleasing incenses. I have never come across a pooja doer who could say he feared those idols more than a cop on the traffic Signal. (Laughs) Real Gods are roaming around in uniforms…
God is not getting even flattery. People are found doing better job out of it.. far more sincerely to a Minister from state government. They would do everything to please and seek the attention of this God who is visiting their neighbourhood for some inaugration function of “Durga Pooja”. The real Goddess is made to take backseat..
How can you claim that you even care and respect the God or your Ishta? You always behaved like a spoilt brat, indisciplined one displaying utter arrogance. Have you ever asked your God “May I come in my Lord?” before you entered the Pooja room. Did you wait for the answer to come to you or you barged in without caring. Did you ever bothered to ask him “My beloved Lord, Did you like the fruits which I have brought for you?” Did you ever ask said “Please forgive me today for I could not wash the plate peoperly for you”. You have taken the read Lord as granted and trust me those unreal Lords who are sitting in the Court Rooms today are being revered more.. they are being honored, so what if it is just the custom.
Reddy, Bhakti is a personal relationship between you and the creator of this universe. This relationships becomes supreme and all encompassing for Bhaktas. They would personify the creator and would treat him as their master, friend, teacher, mother, father or beloved. The Pooja as it is seen externally originated by copying some really devout “Bhaktas” who personified their God and treated them as they would treat their beloved, friend, master etc. But when you copy you can copy only external movements.. you can not copy what is going on inside that bhakta. Pooja is just expression of his/her love towards the divine creator.. and we feel we are in Bhakti. We are not!
The culmination of Bhakti (Devotion) in Pooja (physical expression of your devotion) is the evolved stage of Bhakti. In this stage you are not satisfied with just your thoughts and immersion of your mind in His thoughts. You start feeling urge to express your love, gratitude, respect.. towards Him. In such a state you cant hold yourself and express all positive feelings in the act of Pooja.
Reddy, you ask what can I do to inculcate vairagya. You can not do anything. You need not do anything. Just become aware of what you are seeking.. You are seeking You are seeking truth (sat), You are seeking life (chit) and you are seeking bliss (Anand).. in a way you are seeking satchidaananda.
In the first step to Bhakti is “Naamjapa”. Take a name.. and associate the supreme being with that name. Chant the name with love and respect towards the supreme, the one who is not sitting up there but also equally present in here. Call out for him.. seek him. Remember his name.. Gradually you will personify your Satchidananda , For Chaitanya it was Krisna, For Narada it was Narayana, For Parvati he was Shiva, for Tulsi it was Rama, for Ramakrishna it was Kali and so on.. endless is the list (Hari annant, hari katha ananntaa..)
If you are interested in seeking the ultimate reality through Bhakti. The first step is always Naama japa. Japa does not mean verbal iterations of His/Her name using your tongue or thought but its like taking dips in the Holy waters. Your whole persona should take the Holy Bath in his name. You should not beg.. you should earn it. Become worthy of His love.. and you will not have to beg for it, you will not get the feeling of doing flattery for it.
I have heard about a Sufi mystic, Bayazid. He meditated for years, and it is said God was very, very compassionate towards him. He had made such great effort; arduous was his search, intense was his prayer. So God sent an angel, and the angel came and said to Bayazid, “God is happy, and whatsoever you want He is ready to give to you. You just ask. Your days of seeking and inquiry are finished.”
But Bayazid said, “But no, that is not the way. I don’t want to get so cheaply because I know well…in life also I was deceived because of this cheap possibility. Now you cannot deceive me. Tell God that I will earn the hard way.”
But the angel said, “You are foolish! He is ready to burn the innermost light of your being. Just ask!”
But Bayazid said, “Thank you, and give Him also my thanks, but I am not going to do that because it will be borrowed; even if borrowed from God, it will be borrowed. Let me seek and search.”
The angel said, “God will feel offended. It has never happened; His offer has to be accepted.”
Then Bayazid looked around — he had a small lamp and the oil was almost finished. He said, “If He really wants to light something, tell Him to light my lamp because the oil is almost finished and the night is dark, and I have still to meditate. Just this will do. You just tell Him to give me one blessing: that my oil should never finish so I can meditate the whole night.”
That’s all he asked for, and it is said that God was very happy and He said, “This is the right way.” If he had asked he would have missed; if he had accepted he would have missed — because whatsoever comes to you without your earning it is never yours. You possess only that which you have lived. You possess only that which YOU have known. You possess only that which you have earned.
Love and Light