Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa, who experienced spiritual ecstasies from a young age, had both kinds of disciples-the householders and monastics, some of whom were later to become monks. There was also a small group of women devotees. The householder devotees were Ramchandra Dutta, Manmohan Mitra, Durgacharan Nag, etc. His monastic disciples included Narandranath Dutta (Swami Vivekanada), Rakhal Chandra (Swami Brahmananda), Baburam Ghosh (Swami Premananda), Taraknath Ghoshal (Swami Shivananda), etc. He concluded as under:
Spiritual steps for householders:
How to love God:
Reference: The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna – by Swami Nikhilananda
Science & Psychology of Bhakti (Divine Love)
The term Bhakti comes from Bhaj which means to revere, to share, to partake, to worship and to be attached to God. Bhakti is not precisely love or devotion. Love and devotion spring from explicit or hidden selfish gain whereas Bhakti is a subtle experience from pure and selfless devotion towards deity. In bhakti, power of emotions is elevated to the level of divine devotion. Bhakti elevates. Bhakti transforms. Bhakti brings fulfilment. When bhakti sprouts, one does not need of any other thing. Tears of ecstasy flows out, when merged with the almighty.
Question arises why one should do Bhakti without gain in this material world. The question has been addressed in various scriptures of Hinduism. Selfishness, if not accomplished, develops kama, krodha, etc. the negative aspects of feelings. But in selfless love one gradually develops positive aspects such as gratitude, satisfaction, generosity etc. which are attributes of Atman. These bring peace and bliss. Bhakta completely surrenders to the extent of losing his identity through selfless love. Zenith of bhakti is advait (अद्वैत, non-duality), when bhakt and Bhagwan become one as Gopi and Krishna.
By listening and repeating stories of almighty, Bhakti grows and attachment with almighty increases. When bhakti becomes addiction, moksha is easy.
Gopis were spiritual preceptors of Bhakti. Their sight was steady on the entire form of Shri Krishna and enjoyed the bliss. They have been immersed in the playful activities of Balkrishna and oblivious of other things. While performing their duties, their mind was constantly engrossed in Balkrishna. This is height of Bhakti. Sri Shankaracharya said, “Immerse in any form of deity with full devotion; perform all worldly duties keeping almighty in manas and for the almighty; if devotion is done all through our actions, speech and thought, shri Krishna (or any other form of almighty) enters in life; believe all other forms part of that form”.
Tukaram says, Bhakt (devotee) is one who never vibhakt (separated) from almighty. Eknath, Tukaram, Narsingh etc. were householders. Celibacy and name of almighty can help in crossing this world as Hanuman ji crossed ocean.
Gyani may be tormented by abhiman (false pride). Bhakti (divine love) brings several attributes. Bhakt becomes polite, courteous. As patience and virtues increases, bhakti ripens. Without detachment, bhakti does not succeed. Good conduct and thoughts nourish bhakti. Luxuries destroy Bhakti. Bhakt feels difficult to endure separation of almighty.
Without Vairagya (dispassion), persistence does not come. When Gyan, Vairagya and Bhakti are perfected, the person becomes divine. By thinking whether he has made preparations for welcoming death, vairagya sprouts. By thinking about miseries of birth, death and diseases, vairagya arises.
Bhakti is in core of all paths of liberation whether Raja Yoga, Karma Yoga or Gyan Yoga. It is common to all paths. All paths of liberation except bhakti require efforts and discipline. Bhakti starts with joy and love. Hence the path starts with fruits.
Psychology of Bhakti
Characteristics of Bhakti
Obstacles of Bhakti
In this world, manas (मन) keep roaming. As soon as one sees beauty in world or body, sin starts. Attachments to sensual pleasures are of manas (मन). Meditating the sensual pleasures makes the manas impure. Abandoning such thoughts of sensual pleasure, purify the manas.
It should be arrested by intelligence. Until manas (मन) is not curbed, bhakti is not gained. Manas (मन) impurities are of two types viz. gross and subtle. Gross impurities can be removed by tapa (religious austerities), vrata (vows), Anshan (fasting) etc. But subtle impurities are removed by intense bhakti (divine love). Servitude melts the manas (मन).
Vasnas (longings) are biggest hindrance in spiritual progression. When there is no vasna in mind, bhakti will sprout. Without vairagya (detachment), bhakti weeps. Desires are hindrance. With increase in patience and good conduct, bliss increases in bhakti. Wise person remembers almighty every moment. Thinking about beauty of almighty starts bhakti. When manas becomes steady in almighty, it is peaceful. After liberation of manas, jivatma enjoys freedom.
Science to cultivate Bhakti
Tulsidas ji in Shree Ramcharitramanas has lucidly explained importance of satsang in Bahkti:
Types of Bhakti
The real worship is living holy life, total surrender, offering of oneself, one’s possessions, and one’s actions and even the sense of agency to Him and unwavering faith and devotion (अनन्य भक्ति) and service to living beings. Such Attitude of devotion (bhakti) is born out of knowledge (Jnana) of one’s relationship with the divine. Jnana supports Bhakti and bhakti deepens Jnana.
Shri Krishna in Shrimad Bhagavad Gita has mentioned this in chapter 9 as under:
Three articles on Bhakti are already published which deal on - what is Bhakti (Doctrine of Bhakti), how to cultivate Bhakti (Cultivation is Bhakti) and Evolutionary stages of Bhakti. This article aims at explaining the signs of Bhakta at various evolutionary stages of Bhakti.
At the first stage i.e. Signs of Sadhana Bhakti:
1. Aspirant has a strong faith in God as the highest value and a sense of the utter temporariness of worldly achievements.
2. Aspirant, then, turn to the scriptures and spiritual teachers who impart the doctrines regarding, the self, Nature, and God.
3. Aspirant performs the duties of life without personal desire or fruits of actions or attachment and for success. In this one must have an understanding of oneself as the Atman. Karma Yoga and Jnana Yoga to be practiced together.
At second stage, i.e. Signs of Para Bhakti:
1. Viveka (Practice of Discrimination) – Aspirant practice viveka for all the things that are taken in through the senses. Ramanuja system emphasizes more on the need to be discriminate in taking food i.e. eat only things that are Sattvika or purity-generating and prepared and served only by persons and in conditions that are pure.
2. Vimoka – Aspirant resists the impulses of passions like anger, sexuality, jealousy etc.
3. Abhyasa – Aspirant practice all the disciplines of worship such as worship of divine images, japa, collective singing of the names of God, visiting holy places etc. which remind that God is the indwelling Principle (Sesi) in oneself and the whole universe.
4. Kriya – Aspirant performs the following five-fold duties of life:
6. Anavasada – Aspirant is free from despair, pessimism etc. and preservation of a cheerful and positive attitude of mind.
7. Anuddharsa – Aspirant does not yield to excitement or depression and to preserve an even temperament in all situations.
By long and continued practice of these disciplines, by practice of detachment, dhyana and upasana, the mind of aspirant gets purified and develops power to perceive the Divine as the inner self. At this stage, his faith is strengthened by the glow of love for God and develops into Para Bhakti when the mind, even without any external stimulation, goes towards God in place of sense objects.
At third stage, i.e. Signs of Prema Bhakti:
When the mind of Aspirant feels the great attraction of the God, and Bhakti is said to develop then into the stage of Prema Bhakti. The devotee becomes mad with love and longing, and is always in intimacy with the Divine. Prema bhakti is same as system of Prapatti when the attachment to God becomes the sole music of one’s life and one is immersed in the bliss of the Parmatman.
Doctrine of Self-Surrender (Prapatti under Sri Ramanuja system):
Dedication of oneself, along with one’s dependents and belongings, to God is the central feature of self-surrender. It evokes God’s grace and leads the aspirants to supreme status. Abandonment of religious rites and taking refuge in Him leads to transcendent purity and freedom from all sins. Self-surrender is analyzed in six phases as under:
1. Aspirant resolves to cherish love for all, as all animates and inanimate beings constitute His body.
2. Aspirant abstains from hostility to all beings. It means abonnement of all evil ways and enmity to others.
3. Aspirant has faith i.e. strong conviction that God is the refuge of all and will protect him. Seeking His protection means maintenance of an attitude of prayerfulness for it.
4. Aspirant chooses God as one’s shelter. He resigns oneself absolutely to His care and protection. A feeling of one’s pitiable state owing to a realization of insufficiency of all self-effort made for one’s salvation.
5. Aspirant entrusts oneself, one’s near and dear ones, possession etc. to Him and throwing one’s burdens, one’s “I and mine” on Him. He accepts that God’s protective grace is always with one.
6. Aspirant is humble i.e. he has no pride and conceit of agency and is ready to submit unperturbed to any misfortune or failure, accepting it as the Divine will.
The Prapatti doctrine holds that a single moment of resignation with the attitude of mind is enough to bring the God’s grace operative on the Jiva. The effect is immediate and non-laborious.
Characteristics of the Bhakta, who has developed delight in Bhakti:
Fruits of Bhakti:
Reference: Bhakti Schools of Vedanta – by Swami Tapasyananda, Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai.
Two articles on Bhakti are already published which deal on - what is Bhakti (Doctrine of Bhakti) and how to cultivate Bhakti (Cultivation is Bhakti). This article aims at explaining the various evolutionary stages of Bhakti. Sri Ramanuja, Sri Madhva, Sri Vallabha and Sri Chaitanya are acharyas (teachers) of bhakti who excelled and propagated Bhakti among masses; resultantly India witnessed Bhakti movement in medieval period. Bhakti is looked upon as a distinct fifth Purusartha.
Once the devotee follows the discipline of Bhakti, the devotional sentiments are more & more pronounced. When the heart of devotee is unshakably established in the God and mind refuses to move, complete devotion is accomplished.
From Shraddha, ardour (dedication & eagerness) is born. When ardour deepens, it is called Prema or Love. As Prema grows it is successively called Sneha, Mana, Pranaya, Raga, Anuraga, Bhava and Mahabhava. These are stages in the development of love.
Evolutionary stages explained by various philosophers of Bhakti:
Such self-forgetting dedication, uncorrupted by the narrow self, eliminates from the aspirant all thoughts of attaining Mukti, or release from cycle of birth and death, even the dawn of pure devotion. One who has attained this state of mind is said to have attained the fifth Purusartha, the state of selflessness. Selflessness is the characteristic of spiritual love, whereas self-consideration is the very basis of sensuous attachments.
Reference: Bhakti Schools of Vedanta – by Swami Tapasyananda, Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai.
In the first article on Bhakti titled as “Doctrine of Bhakti (Devotion)” deals with the question “What is Bhakti”. Many philosophers claims the Bhakti cannot be cultivated. Others have given the path to cultivate Bhakti. Selfless devotion is stable only when one has developed balance of emotional and intellectual love. Bhakti matures when the devotee realizes the real form & attributes of Para Brahman (God) and thence develops renunciation from worldly pleasures.
Shraddha (firm & unquestioned faith) is essential for Bhakti. Shraddha is generated in the mind of person by the association with holy persons whose conduct and conversations alone can impress a person with the existential nature of the spiritual reality. Shraddha should be attained. Those who have Shraddha are qualified for Bhakti. Religious knowledge and monasticism (religiously mandated behavior) are not essential for development of Bhakti.
Sri Madhvacharya accepted the authority of Bhagavad Purana and its Navdha Bhakti, both as a discipline to cultivate Bhakti. Navdha Bhakti is nine God-centered actions discussed as under:
श्रवणं कीर्तनं विष्णोः स्मरणं पादसेवनम् | अर्चनं वन्दनं दास्यं सख्यमात्मनिवेदनम् ॥ (7.5.23)
(Sravanam, kirtanam, visno, smaranam, pada-sevanam; archanam, vandanam, dasyam, sakhyam atma-nivedanam)
In Navdha bhakti, first is sravana. But shravan of katha (noble stories) is not sufficient. Whatever is listened should also be meditated (Manan or manthan). After the meditation of katha, it should be practiced.
The first six items are practiced as preliminary disciplines or Apara-Bhakti, by which one gets gradually spontaneous love of God without any external stimulation and becomes capable of practicing devotional attitudes and self-surrender. The final stage is called Para-Bhakti. When Atamasamarpana is performed, the first six disciplines become the spontaneous expression of Bhakti with the feeling that one is His Dasa and purpose of His existence is His service.
Sixty Four Devotional Disciplines for cultivation of Bhakti:
There are sixty four devotional disciplines for cultivating Bhakti. These disciplines can be clubbed under a few sub-heads which corroborates Navdh which are as under:
Relating to Guru –
1. Submission to the spiritual teacher (Guru);
2. Serving the teacher;
3. Avoiding making too many disciples and getting entangled in their affairs;
4. Avoiding writing too many books, practicing too many crafts, delivering too many lectures, and involvement in too many disputations;
5. Receiving, initiation and lessons from him in the devotion to Sri Krishna;
6. Prostrating before Guru;
Relating to Navdha Bhakti:
7. Listening to the recitation of the names of the God (Sahastranama etc.);
8. Following the scriptures;
9. Studying the Bhagavata Purana with fellow devotees;
Kirtana (Collective singing):
10. Performing Sankirtana (collective singing);
Smarana (Japa, Meditation)-
11. Silently repeating the divine name (Japa);
12. Repeating devotional verses;
13. Singing the praise of Krishna;
14. Meditating on the God;
15. Remembering the God always;
Padaseva (Service of deities or Social Service) -
16. Loving the feet of the deity;
17. Serving the devotees (Vaishnava);
18. Using all one’s energies towards performing His works;
19. Serving the deity in all possible ways;
Archana (Worship of deities) -
20.Witnessing the evening and other services at the temple;
21. Dancing before deity;
22.Prostrating before deity;
23.Following the deity in religious processions;
24.Circumambulating the deity in the temples
25.Going to the temple regularly;
26.Reverential service of his image.
27.Worshipping the deity regularly;
28.Respecting Salagrama and other emblems of Vishnu;
29.Avoiding disrespect to the deity as worshipped by others;
30.Observing fast on Ekadasi etc.;
31. Putting on the Vaishnava marks;
32.Stamping the letter ‘Hari’ on the arms;
33.Accepting with devotion flowers, Tulsi etc. offered to the God;
34.Eating with relish what is offered to deity (Prasada);
35.Drinking the water with which the deity is washed;
36.Smelling the fragrance of flowers, incense etc. offered to the deity;
37.Touching the deity;
38.Gazing at the deity;
39.Seeking the God’s grace;
42.Holding devotional festivals according to one’s capacity;
43.Observing monthly vows especially in Kartika;
44.Observing Janamashtmi with special reverence;
45.Adopting the attitude of servant towards the God;
Sakhya (Friendliness) –
46.Adopting a friend’s attitude towards the God;
47.Revealing one’s innermost feelings to the deity;
48.Dedicating oneself to the God;
49.Offering to Him all that is dear to oneself;
Relating to Stay & self-discipline:
51. Abstinence (self-discipline & restraint);
52.Residing in Mathura and other holy places;
53.Living in sacred places of the Vaisnavas;
54.Association with holy persons;
55.Earning only for maintenance and hoarding;
56.Keeping away from atheists and impious men;
57.Avoiding too many ambitious projects;
58.Giving up faulty behavior;
59.Not being overwhelmed by adverse fortune;
60.Not harassing others;
61. Avoiding Savaparadha (disrespectful behavior in worship) – failure to observe the rules of purity, procedure and reverential homage in one’s association with temples of God and holy images (moving irreverently before holy images, indulging in impure or prohibited practices, not contributing according to one’s capacity for worship, eating without offering to God, offering what is eaten already etc.);
62.Avoiding Namaparadha (disrespect to divine name) – slandering saintly persons, ignoring spiritual preceptors, finding faults with scriptures, deliberately sin, resolve to sin, holding an attitude of indifference to divine name, considering oneself superior to the divine name etc.;
63.Using all one’s energies towards performing His works;
64.Maintenance contact with Bhaktas more evolved than oneself.
Reference: Bhakti Schools of Vedanta – by Swami Tapasyananda, Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai.
Vedic ritualistic actions, either of an obligatory nature or of an optional nature, are for attainment of heavenly enjoyments. Most of the persons are devoted to ritualistic duties, some are devoted to knowledge, a few think of God, and among those hardly one is liberated. One in million is true devotee. Hence, specific devotional rituals forming part of the Bhakti discipline are to be adopted.
Discharge of one’s duties in selflessness and detachment, and as an offering to God, has a place in the devotee’s life, as it leads to purification of his mind through elimination of demoniac tendencies born of self-centeredness. The methods of concentration adopted by the Yogis can be usefully employed in the path of Bhakti also as an aid to hold the mind in concentration on the God.
Bhakti is not mere emotions or feeling or Shraddha but firm, ceaseless and unshakable love of God, which surpasses every other form of affection and attachment, and which is based on and inspired by a full knowledge of His transcendent majesty. Worship of Divine images, visit to holy places, study of devotional literature, repetition of Divine name, participation in Bhajans and association with holy men, are some of the means for helping the growth of the infant plant of devotion. The end-phase of devotion is passionate and undeviating love of God.
What is Bhakti:
Bhakti is that continuous flow of the heart that has been liquefied by the love towards God. It develops unalloyed faith in God and submission to His will. To intellectuals, it is the conviction consequent upon the knowledge of the ultimate relationship with God that generates love and attachment to Him. Ramanujacharya equates Bhakti with Dhyana and Upasana. Dhyana means concentration of mind on Him and Upasana continuous thought of Him.
Sri Madvacharya, stressed that Bhakti should not degenerate into excessive emotionalism. Its healthy form is a well-balanced complex of emotional and intellectual love. He therefore holds that love of God should be preceded by the knowledge of His cosmic majesty and excellence, and as per instruction by a competent teacher of the doctrine of the Jiva’s nature as a reflection (Prati-bimba) of God, who is his Original.
Kinds of Bhakti:
Bhagavad Purana, which is recognized as a source book of Bhakti doctrine for over five hundred years, identified two types of Bhakti:
Bhakti, the highest Spiritual Fulfilment:
Reference: Bhakti Schools of Vedanta – by Swami Tapasyananda, Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai.
Trikal Sandhya consists of recitation of mantras from the Vedas. Tirkal means three times’. Sandhya means meeting points of day & night and forenoon & afternoon. Trikal Sandhya is also called Sandhyopasana. This is a process of expressing gratitude to nature and formless almighty. Gratitude develops positivity which helps in fulfilling desire and in eradicating grief.
Trikal Sandhya is mandatory for those who are being initiated through the sacred thread ceremony referred to as the Upanayanam by qualified Guru.
Timings of Trikal Sandhya
Purpose of Trikal Sandhya
Stages of Trikal Sandhya
The stages of Trikal Sandhya include Achamana, Anga Vandana, Ganapati Dhyana, Argya Pradhan, Pranayam, Prayaschitha Argyam, dhyana and Gayatri japa. (Mantras are prescribed at stage which should be learnt from qualified Guru)
Tapas (तप्) (Penance or Austerity)
The root word of Tapas in Sanskrit is tapa (तप) which means heat. Tapas or the spiritual energy is generated by practice of austerities like deep meditation, self-control & discipline and other spiritual practices to attain purification and transformation in the self. Tapasya means self-discipline, undertaken to achieve a goal. With the help of Tapas, the practitioner or worshipper experiences supernormal vision.
The word “Tapas” finds mention in Rigveda (Verse -10.154.5), Satapatha Brahmana (Verse -5.3 - 5.17), Chāndogya & Mandukya Upanishads, Atharva Veda (Verse -4.34.1, 6.61.1, 11.1.26), Patanjali’s Yoga Darshan (Verse – 2.1, 2.32) and Bhagwat Gita (Verse - 17.14-19).
Constituents of Tapas:
The Bhagwat Gita (Verse - 17.14-16) deals with tapas from three angles:
Kinds of Tapas:
The Bhagwat Gita (Verse - 17.17-19) defines the purposes of tapas as Sattvika, Rajasika and Tamasika as under:
Purpose of Tapas
Tapas in Kriya Yoga
In the eight limbs of Patanjali’s Yoga Darshan, one of the limbs is Niyama (observances of rules). Niyama are five which comprises purity, contentment, tapas (austerity), self-study and self-surrender (शौचसंतोषतपःस्वाध्यायेश्वरप्रणिधानानि नियमाः || Verse-2/32). Patanjali’s Yoga Darshan says, tapas, self-study and self-surrender are means of Kriya Yoga (तपःस्वाध्यायेश्वरप्रणिधानानि क्रियायोगः ||Verse-2/1). Tapas word is used in the sense of control over food, forbearance and also the performance of specified kriya.
Fasting, Vrata (व्रत) & Upvas (उपवास)
Fasting is integral part of Hinduism which not only provides freshness to life but also fuel spiritual & religious development. All the religions of the world have adopted the practice of fasting in some form. But in Hinduism, fasting is always associated with other actions to purify body and bring calmness to mind so essential for spiritual upliftment. These actions are Upvas and Vrata which do not have equivalent words in English language.
While fasting is more related to intake of food & drink, Upvas and Vrata are having more of spiritual connotation. The purpose of Upvas is to imbibe the virtues of God. Vrata is a commitment, spiritual practice, or mental discipline. Vratas give the strength to withstand the temptations of the instinctive forces. Fasting, Upvas and Vrata together purify the body, mind and soul.
Abstinence or reduction of all or some food items for definite or indefinite period is called fasting. In Hinduism, fasting is associated with certain dates such as Ekadasi, Pradosha, or Purnima; days such as Monday for Shivji, Tuesday for Hanuman ji in north, Ganesh ji in Maharashtra, Mariamman in south, Thursday for Brihspati or Guru, Friday for Goddess, Saturday for Hanuman ji in Maharashtra; festivals (Maha shivratri, Navratri, Janamashtami, Karwa Chauth, etc.)
The ancient Indian medical system of Ayurveda sees the basic cause of many diseases as the accumulation of toxic materials. Regular cleansing of toxic material keeps us healthy. Fasting overhauls the respiratory, circulatory, digestive and urinary system. In moderate fasting, the organs of the body are cleansed and renewed.
As per research report published in Medical News Today on 7.11.2018, the benefits of intermittent fasting (an eating cycle that includes periods of fasting of around 12–36 hours) based on research are as under:
Vrata (व्रत – Sacred Vow, संकल्प – Resolve)
Vrata has two words in Sanskrit, “Vr” means discipline and “rta” means regularity. In Vrata, the person makes self-commitment to abstain to do certain acts or make vows for spiritual practice. It is basically self-sacrifice or mental discipline. Vrata is a binding force, binding the external mind to the soul and the soul to the Divine. Taking a vow is a sacred trust between yourself, your outer self, your inner self, and your loved ones. A religious vrata is a contract between yourself, the religious community, the Gods and your guru.
References to the vratas are found in the Samhitas, Brahmanas and Aranyakas of all the four Vedas. In Vedas, Rudra is mentioned as the lord of Vratas (Vratapati).
While performing vratas, one must abide by several rules such as one should keep oneself clean and pure, observe celibacy, speak the truth, practice forbearance, avoid non-vegetarian foods and scrupulously perform all the rituals connected with it. Vratas prepare the person for self-transformation and realization.
Types of Vratas
Vratas can be classified according to level at which it is observed i.e. at body levels (kayakia Vratas), at mental level (manas vratas) and at speech level (vachika vratas). Further, it can be classified according to period of its observance, the purpose of its observance or the deities for which it is kept.
At speech level, the Vrata is Maun Vrata i.e. to keep silence for certain period. This purifies speech, brings no harmful effect on other persons, conserves energy and helps the person to introspect peacefully. Maun Vrata is active silence to bring positive change, in contrast to stop speaking out of anger.
Benefits of Vratas
Vratas develop confidence and discipline in life. Vratas give the strength to withstand the temptations of the instinctive forces. However, sometimes failing in the vrata is possible; but striving to fulfil it has the strengthening effect.
Importance of Vrata finds mention in Bhagwat Gita and Yajurveda as under:
Popular Personalities in Hinduism who took Vrata
In Mahabharata, Bhishma took Vrata to remain lifelong Brahmacharya. His vow is popular by name as Bhishma Pratignya. Bhagiratha took Vrata to bring Ganga to earth. For which, he did penance for thousands of years. Chanakya had taken Vrata to replace dhananandha & to keep an worthy successor for the throne of maghada. Mahatma Gandhi took 11 vows viz. non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, Brahmacharya, non-possession, physical labor, control of the palate, fearlessness, equality of all religions, use locally made goods and to remove untouchability.
Upvas (उपवास) has not the same meaning as fasting. Upvas has two words in Sanskrit, “Upa” means near and “vas” means sitting. During Upvas, the person, observes chastity, solitude, silence, and do self-introspection. Upvas is just not fasting. On that day, the persons choose to be near their favorite deity, control on all the senses is exercised, withdraw from regular activities, go to the temple, or find a secluded place for their devotion.
Varah Upanishad has explained that the purpose of Upvas is to be near to God, to worship God, to imbibe the virtues of God in life. It is not the name of torturing the body. (उप समीपे यो वासो जीवात्मपरमात्मयोः। उपवासः स विज्ञेयो न तु कायस्य शोषणम्।। - वराहोपनिषद् 2/39)
Emergence of Diverse Modes of Worship in Hinduism
It is always a matter of great interest that the most ancient religion of the world has a very comprehensive range of worship, prayer and to establish connection with God to suit every personality. The emergence of diverse modes of establishing connection with Gods is the outcome of intense researches done by ancient Vedic rishis during over 5000 years ago to saint singers of Bhakti movement which swept Bharat during medieval period.
Worship in Hinduism always aims at achieving Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. Diverse modes of worship such as Yajna, Yoga & Dhyana, Upvas (full or partial fasting to remember god whole day), Japa (chanting of mantra such as Gayatri mantra, beej mantra etc for deity), Bhajan & Kirtan (chanting of hymns/verses in praise of deity) and Upasna (performing traditional puja) are important constituents.
Depending on one’s preferences, one can stick to one or more of the following:
1. Activities by organs – such as yajna, traditional puja system;
2. Activities by mind – such as japa, dhyana, upvas;
3. Activities by mouth – chanting of prayer, mantra, bhajan, kirtan.
The various modes of worship are discussed as under:
Please also see detailed article on my website named as “Yag, Havan and Yajna” published on 22.02.2019 under the category “Puja System”.
Yoga or inner Yajna
Please also see detailed article on my website named as “Patanjali Yog Darshan” published on 28.08.2018 under the category “Philosophy”.
Traditional Puja System
Please also see related articles on my website named as “Puja” published on 10.08.2017, “Tantra” published on 22.02.2019 and “Yantra: under the category “Puja System”.
Upvas, Japa, Bhajan and Kirtan
Please also see related articles on my website namely “Mantra” published on 06.11.2018, “Bhakti Yoga” published on 07.03.2018 under the category “Philosophy”; “Chanting of Mantra” published on 15.09.2018 under the category “Puja System”; “Vaishnava Bhakts” published on 02.03.2018 under the category “Deities, Philosophers & Bhakts”.