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From: Shree (shree_at_usa.net)
Date: Wed Dec 24 1997 - 06:58:15 PST

Devotion can be practised by all 

              Date: 24-12-1997 :: Pg: 24 :: Col: c 

              Cl: Religion 

              CHENNAI, Dec. 24. 

              The scriptures prescribe many methods for
              realising God to suit the nature of different
              individuals. But, broadly they are all classified
              under four paths - Jnana, Karma, Bhakti and
              Raja yogas. Jnana yoga is the path of knowledge
              involving the study of scriptural texts and the
              method of enquiry. Karma yoga is the
              performance of all actions without expectation of
              results as duty and Raja yoga, the practice of
              meditation. 

              All these paths require the sustained effort of the
              spiritual aspirant and if one takes into
              consideration the observance of these paths in this
              modern age, one can with certainty say that only a
              very few will be able to follow them strictly. If this
              is so, then the question arises whether the spiritual
              path and the goal of liberation are meant only for
              a select few. Is the scripture silent and
              unconcerned about the majority of people
              wallowing in Samsara? Certainly not. 

              Human birth itself is a gift given to man by God
              for the sake of realising the end of liberation.
              Hence the scriptures with great concern have
              devised many methods only with the intention of
              bringing this goal within the reach of every
              individual. The path of devotion (Bhakti yoga)
              had been prescribed as an easy alternative to the
              paths of Jnana, Karma and Raja yogas, said Sri
              Muralidhara Swami in his discourse. 

              One should not have the misconception that the
              spiritual goal can be attained only by Vedantic
              enquiry and meditation. The same end can be
              attained by devotion to God, because in this case
              the Almighty Himself undertakes the responsibility
              of His devotee's spiritual progress. This fact is
              stressed in the scriptures and also can be seen in
              the lives of great devotees and saints like
              Bhodendra and Sadguru Swamigal, who realised
              God through the path of devotion. 

              So one must have the goal of liberation always in
              mind and orient all actions towards this goal.
              Otherwise, human life will be no different from
              that of animals and other living creatures. The
              path one adopts to realise the spiritual goal must
              have scriptural sanction. Everyone can adopt the
              path of Bhakti without any difficulty and by doing
              so, one does not stand to lose anything in the
              process. Even if one fails to realise God in this
              birth, there is at least the certainty that one's
              Karma will be greatly mitigated. 

              Devotion can become steadfast by cultivating the
              company of saints and devotees. Satsangh
              ensures that the mind does not get distracted by
              worldly attractions. The grace of the Guru is the
              most important factor in spiritual life and the Guru
              comes into the life of the spiritual aspirant when
              devotion to God becomes steady. 

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