In these pages, Swami Tattvavidananda explores the nature of bhakti
or devotion for the Lord and the crucial role it plays in one's life. In the
context of this teaching, he takes up eight specific verses from the twelfth
chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, known as Bhakti Yoga. These verses mention
various qualities exemplified by a true devotee, the bhakta
laksanas, which endear the devotee to the Lord. In
the course of explaining these verses, Swamiji has also examined the relevant
parts of Sri Sankara's commentary on this chapter in great detail.
Swamiji teaches that having devotion or
love for the Lord transforms karma and janana into
karma yoga and janana yoga. Such love purifies the
mind and helps us maintain an appropriate attitude to life and overcome our
preoccupation with the material objects of the world and focus upon Isvara. Swamiji describes the various forms of prayer and
the various kinds of devotees, and shows how the fact of seeking is itself a
denial of lsvara. Devotion is defined as an
indication of one's emotional growth and culminates in saranagati,
the unquestioning acceptance of Isvara' s will and that it alone prevails.
This book is one of the most detailed
expositions on the characteristics of the true devotee, the janani
bhakta. It is especially valuable because it is also
a wonderful exploration of Sri Sankara's commentary
on the topic. In these verses, the janani bhakta is depicted as an ideal and held up as a superb
model of conduct. He is seen as a realized soul, who manifests all the bhakta laksanas quite
effortlessly. Swamiji shows us how masterfully Sri Sankara has interpreted each
of these qualities. The reader will note that this sequential and precise
delineation is no mere theoretical exercise; Swamiji also provides very
practical suggestions that will enable the reader to emulate and assimilate
these qualities in his own life.
As one of the foremost teachers of
Vedanta at the Arsha Vidya Gurukulam
in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, Sri Swami Tattvavidananda
considers non-attachment or dispassion to be the greatest principle of all.
Here he teaches that the preoccupation with the material objects of the world
must cease so that one may learn to appreciate the higher reality that
transcends all names and forms. While his guidelines for practicing the
qualities of a janani bhakta
may seem strict to some, they will serve well to enhance our understanding of
the topic. Each subsequent reading is sure to provide greater clarity of
thought and appreciation of the teaching.
Swamiji has meticulously transliterated
the entire text with word-for-word meanings and ensured that the manuscript has
been thoroughly examined and revised. On behalf of all of Swamiji's
students, and as his student myself, I offer my gratitude to him for having
made this teaching available to readers everywhere.
Sri Swamiji would like to acknowledge
with reverence the inspiration he has gained from the works of Sri Swami Akhandanandaji Maharaj. He would
also like to acknowledge the enthusiasm and affection of the students of the Arsha Vidya Gurukulam,
Saylorsburg, PA, USA. I am sure that the reader will be able to appreciate and
apply the valuable and practical insights in this book.
Four Qualities of a Devotee
defining characteristics of a devotee
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