How to Improve our Devotional Life?
तद्भूरिभाग्यमिह जन्म किमप्यटव्यां, तद्गोकुलेऽपि कतमाङ्घिरजोभिषेकम्।
यज्जीवितं तु निखिलं भगवान्मुकुन्दस्त्वद्यापि यत्पदरजः श्रुतिमृग्यमेव॥ (10/14/34)
This verse of shreemad bhagvat says that “O God, give me such a fortune that I get the birth of an animal, bird, tree or forest valley in Vraj, so that I may anointed with dust of the vraj’s people, whose everything is Lord Mukund (shree krishna).”
This shows the greatness of a real devotee. We shall feel fortunate by just receiving dust from a true devotee’s feet, which means it is very hard to get.
As aspiring devotees, we are all very eager to receive the mercy of the god and to obtain this mercy there is one absolute necessity and that is to obtain the blessings of the dust of the lotus feet of pure devotees. A pure devotee never approaches the Lord directly but tries to please the servant of the Lord’s servants, and thus the Lord becomes pleased and only then can the devotee relish the taste of God’s grace.
One may have doubt whether my service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead will attain salvation, but there is absolutely no doubt that those who are attached to serving his devotees will attain salvation.
In Sat yuga, people’s minds and hearts were so pure and innocent, that salvation could be attained only by meditation of God. Then when the Treta Yuga came, due to a slight decrease in the purity of the heart of the people, they could not attain salvation by meditating. People now had to perform physical activities like singing bhajan and worship. In Dwapara yuga, the purity decreased even more. Now there was a need for temples and idols so that people could find God.
Today in Kaliyuga, meditating, singing Bhajan and worshipping, or going to the temple and seeing the idols is not enough to take us to Akshardham. We now need to serve the saint or a true devotee who has achieved God’s grace.
A devotee who believes in God but not in the devotee is average, but the one who is devoted to God and his devotees too is the best. If we believe that God is omnipresent, the service of devotees is also the service of God, because God resides in everyone.
In Kalyug, the glory of a true devotee is considered as compared to God’s own glory. The devotee can subdue the Lord by his fiery devotion. That’s why at present Hanumanji is worshiped in the form of a devotee of Bhagwan Shree Ram. There are more temples of Hanumanji compared to Bhagwan Shree Ram’s. There will be many villages which don’t have a temple of Shree Ram but, for Hanumanji, It might be Small but definitely there will be a temple of him. This glorifies the devotion of Hanumanji towards Shree Ram.
Jinabhai, A servant of God’s servant.
Once a great devotee of village panchala, Jinabhai went to Mangrol to meet Kamalshibhai Vanja. He was very sick and there was no one to take care of him, even his son was not paying any attention to him. There was filth all around his bed, insects were crawling all over him and flies were hovering. His condition was very pitiable. Jinabhai told his son to take proper care of Kamalshibhai or let Kamalshibhai take with him.
his son said “OK! surely you take him with you, we will get rid of this problem.” Jinabhai went to the market to find labourers who could lift Kamalshibhai and drop him to his village. He got only three labourers, he tried hard for fourth but he didn’t get it. Then three labourers and the fourth himself lifted the bed and started walking towards Panchala with one hand he was drawing his horse and with the other hand and shoulder, he was lifting the bed. In the midway, he found a fourth labourer and all of them went to panchala, where he put a bed beside his bed in his room.
He served Kamalshibhai like he was serving Bhagwan Shree Swaminarayan himself, after getting treatment and services kamalshibhai got well.
So, this desireless service of Jinabhai was noticed by Bhagwan Shri Swaminarayan and as a reward for that service, Swaminarayan Bhagwan helped Jinabhai many times.
Once Swaminarayan Bhagwan went panchala at his house and told his mother Gangabaa ” I am very hungry, bring whatever is prepared in your kitchen and give it to me”
Gangamaa said ” No maharaj ! let me prepare something for you, what is made is not fit for you to eat.”
Because it was the bread of sorghum (jowar -usually it is used as animal feed). Swaminarayan Bhagwan asked Jinabhai why are you eating this, Jinabhai said ” I am not sowing my farm by myself but I have hired a group who is sowing my farm, When the crop comes in the field, then they have to give it to me but they have not given it for two years. That’s why I’m forced to eat this sorghum. That group is neither Giving me crop nor any rent.”
From right there Swaminarayan Bhagwan rode Manki towards Kheda, At midnight he reached there and he woke up Colonel Walker(an English government officer and devotee of Bhagwan Shree Swaminarayan ), told the story and ensured to help Jinabhai. Colonel Walker sent one hundred soldiers with guns. After five days soldiers came to Jinabhai’s farm, went straight to that group, Beat them very hard and warned them that ” If we hear your complaint once again, we will put you all in jail. And no one will be there to save you. Now you all go and give Jinabhai his crop and beg sorry to him”. They all went to Jinabhai’s house with two years’ crops which they didn’t give to him. They put it all in front of Jinabhai and said “We won’t do this again to you. Please forgive us”
Thus Bhagwan Shri Swaminarayan saved the crops of his devotees and with this crop, jinabhai passed drought.
So, this is how Bhagwan Swaminarayan saved his dear devotee from drought.
And when the last time of Jinabhai came Swaminarayan Bhagwan himself lifted the pyre of Jinabhai at his funeral and walked more steps than Jinabhai walked with Kamalshibhai’s bed and gave him the pleasure of Akshardham.
We can bear the hot sun rays falling on our heads, but the soles of our feet will not be able to bear it. Similarly, God is at the place of head and we are the servants of his pious feet. Whatever happens, God will not let his devotees suffer even after death.
The place of the devotee has always been very high in our culture. The speciality of the best devotee has also been discussed many times. It has always been our belief that the one who always remembers the name of God, serves him, he is a true devotee.
In the 29th vachnamrut of Vadtal Muktanand Swami asked, “What is the cause of so much strong attachment to God?”
Bhagwan Swaminarayan answers, “Either there is such a powerful sanskar of pre-birth or one must have served and satisfied the saint of God who has such strong attachment towards God”, only by doing that, one can get such a strong attachment to God but without that, there is no other solution.so, Bhagwan Swaminarayan also described the value of a true saint and a true devotee.
If you bring your child to the temple and Swamiji garlands your child instead of you, you will be more happy. Because you know that the one who is being respected is yours only.
For any service, The work is the same but there is a lot of difference in the feeling behind it. It is not the action that is important, but what is the feeling behind that action, is more important and God sees that only. If one person is doing mala(chanting the name of god) while sitting in the temple, but he is thinking about the world, another person does the cleaning of the floor while remembering the Lord, then the one who does the cleaning is better than the one who does mala. This type of devotee is eligible to be served by other devotees. He has connected all the activities of his daily routine with God which is what makes him a true devotee. And serving that true devotee one can achieve devotion like him, God’s grace and Akshardham too.
Service of a devotee = Confirmation of God’s Abode.
There is an incident in the life of the great devotee Kanchipurna that nicely illustrates this principle of serving the devotees.
Kanchipurna was famous throughout South India as a great devotee. He resided in the city of Kanchipuram, where he daily offered the service of fanning the famous deity Lord Varadaraj.
Kanchipurna’s simplicity and devotion endeared him to Lord Varadaraj, so much that the two of them began having daily conversations. Some of the local people found out about this and individuals began approaching Kanchipurna, requesting him to convey questions on their behalf to Lord Varadaraj. so that lord would reply to him and then Kanchipurna would relate the answer back to the questioner.
One day a person who used to do service of Kanchipuram, asked him to enquire from lord varadraj if “he ever go to God’s divine Abode and if yes then after how many births ?”.
Lord Varadaraj confirmed that “after leaving his present body”, meaning that this is his last birth, after finishing this birth that devotee will go to Vaikuntha.
The desire arose in Kanchipurna’s heart to know if he would go to Vaikuntha after his present life. However, he was too shy to ask about himself. Finally, Kanchipurna revealed his heart. “My dear Lord, when will I go to Vaikuntha?”
Lord Varadaraj cast a loving glance at his devotee, and said, “Kanchipurna, you are my dear servant. I love you, but you will not go to Vaikuntha after this life. Because you have served me with great devotion, but you have never served my devotee. Unless someone serves one of my devotees they cannot enter into my abode.”
Hearing the Lord’s words, Kanchipurna stood there for a moment, and then, without saying a word, he suddenly put the fan down and left. Kanchipurna went searching for a devotee whom he could serve. Being famous all over South India, it was not easy for Kanchipurna to find a devotee willing to accept his service.
Although he tried and tried, no one would allow him to serve. Rather, everyone he approached said, “No! No! No! You are a great devotee. Lord Varadaraj personally talks to you! I cannot allow you to serve me. I’ll go to hell!”
Finally, Kanchipurna took off his saffron cloth. Dressed like normal people, he went to the home of one of the devotees named Mahapurna, disguised as a person who used to take care of cows. For a few months, he rendered service to that devotee’s cows, he was always careful to hide his face.
But one day it was raining heavily. He was all wet in the rain. He came to his room to change his clothes but he didn’t have any clothes except the saffron one. He put it on and sat in his room for chanting the name of god.
suddenly mahapurna entered the room and he recognised him and said “Oh! Are you Kanchipurna ? To date, you have been working as a servant. Due to this act of yours, I will be a part of the sin and will fall in hell. Because you are a true devotee and I told you to do this work. please forgive me.” Kanchipurana said, “No problem, I did it for my own sake, it is not your fault”.
Mahapurna knew him and so he refused to accept further service. Kanchipurna then returned to the temple of Lord Varadaraj. Seeing his dear devotee entering the temple, the Lord smiled upon him and said, “Kanchipurna, you did the best service of my devotee, Now at the end of this life you also can come to my abode.”
so, God himself will bear the pain but will not let his devotees even get hurt. Similarly, Shri Krishna had to bear thousands of hardships for himself. But, for the sake of his dear devotees Pandavas, he fought The entire Mahabharat war, with Duryodhan who refused to give an inch of land to Pandavas.
We should consider the service of a true devotee or a saint, as the service of God himself. and God will also accept the service done for his devotee as his own service and we will be facilitated with great virtues.
So, Serving a true servant of God is the secret to improving your devotion and through that service, both God and his devotees will shower their blessings on us. And the same blessings will take us closer to Akshardham.