Oct 21: Dasya Bhakti and Pooja Vidhi

21 Oct

Krishnadas was one of the disciples of Sri Vallabhacharya.  He was a honest devotee and was doing service to Lord Srinathji of Nathdwara. He was taking care of the temple of Lord Srinathji.   Sri Vallabha instructed Krishnadas that only the best of the best products be offered to the deity.  This, Krishnadas, took as the initiation of the Guru and followed it in word and spirit.  Even today, the saffron comes from Kashmir, the betel leaves for the deity come from Vellore in Tamilnadu (which is known to produce the best betel leaves in the country), the utensils used for making the divine Prasad is made out of gold, the water from Ganges is brought to this place daily and saffron from Kashmir is flown to the temple on a daily basis.

Once Krishnadas travelling to Mathura on a horse carriage to get groceries for the temple when he heard a melodious music coming from somewhere.  He was so much drawn to the music that he asked the carriage driver to halt. Later, he asked that the carriage be driven towards the source of the music and finally, he reached a place where a beautiful maiden was dancing in front of rich people and singing in a melodious voice. 
Krishnadas sat mesmerized by the elegance of the maiden’s dance and the melody of her voice.  He felt there could not be a greater vocalist and dancer than her in the whole world.  He approached her after the dance and learned that her name was Ranjani.
He remembered his Guru’s instruction and told Ranjani, ‘Ranjani! Will you dance in front of my Master?’
Ranjani immediately turned down Krishnadas’ request – ‘I don’t come outside to dance. Ask your Master to come here!’
‘My master wouldn’t come. But I assure you, you will be very satisfied after having danced in his presence.’
Ranjani, ‘Well!  Will your master pay me enough? I demand a large sum when I perform outside.’
‘Don’t every worry about it. My Master is extremely affluent. No one in this world is as rich as him, so much so that, the Goddess of wealth herself is at his feet!’
Ranjani said, ‘I don’t dance in front of old aged people. Is your master handsome enough?’
Krishnadas said, ‘My master is the most handsome person on earth! He is like a million cupids put together, and he is ever a young man in his sweet-sixteen.’
Ranjani asked, ‘Is your master a rasika (connoisseur)? I will be really upset if my audience cannot appreciate and enjoy my music and dance and hence will not perform if he is not a rasika.’
Krishnadas immediately said, ‘My master is the greatest connoisseur of music and dance. He is ‘akhilakalaadi guru’ – the master of all arts!

Having convinced Ranjani, Krishnadas took her along with him to the temple.   When Ranjani asked him to take her to his master, Krishnadas pulled open the screen that kept the deity of Lord Krishna from her… and lo! Ranjani was speechless when she gazed at the divine beauty of the Lord and realized how she had wasted her time by dancing in front of mundane people. She took a vow that she would not dance in front of normal mortals and she immediately started singing and dancing in front of Lord Srinathji.  Her performance for the ‘Master’ was extra-ordinary that particular day and went on for a long time. With bhaava filled in her dance and music, her performance reached a crescendo. Eventually, as she finished her gracious performance, in a lightning flash, she went into the sanctum and merged into Lord Krishna.
Rajani, who was spending her life satiating others pleasure gave her life to the Lord the first time she saw him. There once lived an Azhwar called Tiruppan Azhwar who also merged with the Lord at the very first sight. The difference between the two of them is that Ranjani was not aware of devotion [bhakti] until she met Krishnadas. That is verily what a Satsang can do. Satsang can transform people and the minds in a fraction of a second – “Kshana sangena sadhushu”.

Following this, Sri Narayananji from Boston delivered an enthralling lecture on the path of Bhakti. A satsang is place where the path of devotion [bhakti] is predominant. Satsang is a means for Bhakti.  A satsang is a divine communion with one’s true nature, which is verily the true love – ‘tasya priyamaeva shirah’. The term ‘love’ can refer to myriad of things. It can refer to the love for parents/people, the passion on doing an act to name a few. But these are not reciprocated and not spontaneous either. The love for Lord Krishna is indeed spontaneous. When one possesses love on something, it is indeed valuable and captivating for that person.

Yathtrailokya mahiyasopi mahitham sammohanam mohanath
kaantam kanti nidhanatopi madhuram madhurya dhuryad api
soundaryottaratopi sundarataram tvadroopam ashcaryatho
pi ashcaryam bhuvane na kasya kutukam pushnaati vishno vibho

If there is something that can enthrall one very easily, then it is verily the form of Lord Krishna. No other form is as captivating as Lord Krishna’s form [Mahiyasopi Mahitham]. When something is certainly beautiful, then it definitely entices everyone and that the heart goes out for it [Kantham Kantinidhanatopi madhuram]. Everyone acknowledges the prowess of Lord Narasimha, but no one talks about his greatness because of his scary form and one should be very attractive and indeed the sweetest of the sweetest [Madhuram Madhuryadhuryadapi].  For one to have an instantaneous liking on one, that person has to be very amiable and gorgeous [Soundaryaottaratopi Sundarataram].

The above sloka is a beautiful sloka by Narayanabhathri on Lord Guruvayoorappan.  He speaks about the glory of Lord Guruvayoorappan in the second Dashakam [ten slokas]. In the first ten slokas of Narayananeeyam, he extols the greatness of the Lord who resides in Guruvayoor.  In this particular sloka, he explicates the qualities of the Lord and why one should possess immense love for the Lord.  There are a few qualities – “Mahiyasopi mahitam, Sammohanam Mohanaat, Kantham kanti-nidhanatopi, Aschryatopi ascharyam, Soundaryottaratopi Sundarataram”- It is not surprising that the Lord is beautiful and attractive and indeed the greatest of the greatest. What is totally bewildering and surprising according to Bhatatri is that greatest form is indeed standing as Lord Guruvayoorappan in front of him to verily enjoy the beautiful countenance of the Lord.

The greatest of the greatest surprise is Vishno Vibho  – That omnipresent Lord who is verily Lord Vishnu, has incarnated has a Guruvayoorappan and standing with banana fruit in one hand and butter on the other hand and clad on a red loin cloth [kaupina]. The Lord comes down and waits for us to shower the divine love on him. Mahatmas extol the various Bhaavas during the path of devotion [bhakti]. A Mahatma by name Roopa Goswami, delineates on five different Bhavas which is lucidly depicted in Srimad Bhagavatham. The first of the five is Vatsalya Bhava – the bhakti to the Lord akin to how a parent would fondle a child. Yashoda Ma rendered such a bhakti to Lord Krishna and all the Gopas and Gopis possessed such a Bhakti to Lord Krishna. The second Bhava is Sakhya Bhava.  Lord Arjuna possessed that Sakhya Bhava to Lord Krishna, the Gopas and Gopis had to Lord Krishna. Thirdly the Madhurya Bhava, the Bhava that the Gopis possessed for Lord Krishna. The fourth Bhava is Dasya Bhava; the Bhava that Uddhava and Sage Akrura had for Krishna. It is said that Dasya Bhava is one of the greatest Bhavas of Bhakti. Arjuna saw the Lord as Sakha- “hae partha hae arjuna sakhae kurunandanethi”. He treated Lord Krishna as his friend and later repented for that when Krishna departed from the earth. When one perceives the Lord as his master akin to how Lord Hanumanji treated Lord Rama, Uddhava to Lord Krishna, Vibeeshana’s Sharanagathi to Lord Rama to  name a few, the Lord perceives his devotee as a friend. Uddhava saw Lord Krishna verily as his master –

“Thvayopabhuktasraggandha vasolankara charchithaha”
Ucchishta bhojinodasa thava maayma jayaemahi”  [Srimad Bhagavatham 11.6.46].

Uddava consumed whatever Lord Krishna had used and discarded be it clothes, jewels, food remains since Uddava was his Dasa [servant].  But Lord Krishna treated him as his dear friend “tvam mae bruthyaha suhruth sakha”.  Lord Rama conveyed the beautiful precept that one need not surrender unto him and instead requested his devotees to acknowledge him as their friend – “Mitrabhaavena samprapthai nathyajeyam kathanchana”. Above all, the Dasya Bhava is one of the greatest paths to do Bhakti.  Shantha Bhava is where one perceives the Lord in everything akin to Sage Suka who saw Lord Krishna everywhere. It is interesting to see all these kinds of Bhavas being depicted in Srimad Bhagavatham in this order as mentioned above.   Above all in all these Bhavas of bhakti, the love towards the Lord is very important. It is independent of the type of life one leads be it Brahmachari, Sanyasa, Vanaprastha, Gruthasta. It is only the bhava that one worships the Lord that eventually matters.

A poor person once went to meet a Sadhu. He possessed no lofty desire. He earnestly requested the Sadhu to bless him with some wealth so that he could perform Pooja with that wealth. The Sadhu in turn advised him to perform pooja with whatever he had. The person was bewildered and repeated the same question to the Sadhu and got the same answer from him. This happened about five times and he finally understood what the Sadhu meant. The Sadhu wanted him to perform Pooja with his heart.

Acharya beautifully conveys the procedure to perform Pooja.
“ratnaih Kalapitam Asanam himajalaih snanaam cha divyambaram
nana ratna vibushitam mrugamadha modankitam chandhanam”

‘Aalaya sundarae mama gathrae’ – The body is verily the temple and the Rathnakachitha Simhasanam is one’s heart. The heart is studded with different kinds of gems known as “Nava Vidha Bhakti”. The moment one listens to the divine glories of the Lord and chants the divine names of the Lord, his heart melts and tears roll down the eyes – “vaak gathgatha dravate yasya chitham hasati kvachith cha vilasa udhgayathi nruthyathi cha” – The Lord outlines the basic qualities of bhakti. The devotee washes the holy feet of the Lord with his tears from his eyes. When the devotee reminisce the divine plays [leelas] of the Lord, he experiences horripilation which is verily the flower garlands that he offers to the Lord. The different Bhava Rasas  [happiness, anger, grace [karunai], love, kalaham]  that one experiences in their heart is verily offered as Prasadam to the Lord. The camphor for the Lord is verily the beacon light of true Jnana that the Lord has bestowed on the devotee. This is how a Pooja is to be done.

Our Guru Maharaj speaks with Radha Devi delineating the various ways a pooja is to be done –

“Shrunu Radhe Mama pooja vidhim sarasam”.

Tava Madhuradhara sudhaiva padhyam
Galavalitha karalathikaiva haram
Lajjaya nayanamilana eva dhyanam
Nanavidha premapralapa mevarchanam
Shrivanavikasitha sumagandhameva dhupam
Gagana vilasita tharagana meva deepam
Narthana Gana Youvana Soundarya
Prema Virahani Nanavidha Nivedhanam
Vyomavibhasitha soma eva nirajanam
Mama pada raja vilutana meva vandanam

Our Guru Maharaj beautifully conveys to Radha Devi in the above kirtan that the whole universe belongs to her and that everything in this world is offered unto her. The devotee washes the holy feet of the Lord with the tears from the eyes. When one does meditation of Radhe and sheds tears thinking about the Lord, that is verily the Archana for the Lord. The flowers of Brindavan exude a sweet aroma which is verily the incense. The sun and the moon are verily the Neerajanam for the Lord. The Mangala Arathi is verily done with stars in the sky.

In Venu Gitam, it is said that the Deer is considered to be one of the blessed creature. They did pooja with their eyes. They performed pooja to the Lord with a loving glance and devotion. That is verily the essence of Bhakti and the bhakti that one does should ultimately lead one to such a love.

dhanyaasmah muDa matayopi  hariNya etaah ya nanda nandanam upaattha vicitra vesham
aakarNya veNu raNitham saha Krishna saaraam pujaam dadhur viracitham praNayavalokaih

The satsang ended with prayers and Namasankirtan.

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