Pure spiritual practice

In the path of devotion, one can approach and worship God through five types of bhāvas (attitudes). These are śānta, dāsya, sakhya, vātsalya and madhura bhāva. Let us try to know more about these bhāvas.

One of the branches of vātsalya bhāva worships God as Mother. Among all paths, this is the best and most harmless approach. It is one of the many special paths of Hinduism to reach God. In this method, God is worshipped as Shakti. The cosmic energy of God characterised by the three aspects of creation, sustenance and destruction, is addressed as the Mother.

Many people are aware of Lalita Sahasranama Stotra (The thousand names of Goddess Lalita), however, its real name is Lalita Rahasyanama Stotra, because each of these thousand names have a secret meaning. These names are not figments of someone’s imagination, nor were they written by a poet, these are the divines names and chants uttered by none other than the surrounding goddesses of Universal Mother.

The benediction that comes from reciting Lalita Sahasranama is immeasurable. We can evidently witness the immediate benefits of reciting these names if we do it heartfully. In human life, no fulfillment could be greater than obtaining the grace of Universal Mother. There are many methods of worship, approaches of devotion and secrets of yoga/tantra embedded in these names.

The energy that creates, sustains and destroys the universe is the Universal Mother, also called Para Shakti. The same energy, when in an immobile state, not engaged in any of the aforementioned activities is called Parama Shiva by Tantras. They are the dynamic and static states of the One indefinable thing. Tantra calls them as Shakti and Shiva. However, they are called upon by various names in various religions.

The thousand divine names of Universal Mother are what we call Lalita Sahasranama. The name Lalita is itself very soothing. The very energy which is the fundamental basis of existence of the universe is Lalita, which means ‘the one with a delicate form’, and not of the terrific nature. She is full of compassion and love, gentle like the autumnal moon. She is the benign force that protects her children through her watchful eye. Worship of God as Mother is an idea unique to Indian religion.

Even if we cannot learn or practice the secret techniques embedded in these names, if we can at least pray to the universal Mother by chanting them with gentle and heartfelt devotion, we can definitely reach the goals of human life easily; there is no need to talk about the people who understand the secrets embedded in these names and follow them in their lives. They can be considered as gods walking on the earth.

Shakti worship has been prevalent in India since very ancient times. Following the vedic verses such as mātru dēvo bhava, the tradition of regarding one’s mother as God has spread across the country and gradually evolved into Shakti worship. In our country, honoring one’s mother with the position of a goddess has been a very special practice since times immemorial. Even incarnations of God such as Rama and Krishna, worshipped Shakti. From simple life forms to an incarnation, everyone is a child of the universal Mother.

Sri Ramakrishna once told Swami Vivekananda a story.

Ever since he saw the Universal form of Lord Krishna, Arjuna used to praise him excessively. In an effort to make Arjuna understand things properly, one day, Krishna asked Arjuna to join him for an evening walk. Both of them reached a big Java Plum (Syzygium Cumini) tree full of its fruits.

As per the order of Lord Krishna, when Arjuna went to one of the bunches of fruit, he saw a form of Krishna in each of them. Then Krishna said to the awe struck Arjuna, “Arjuna! You have seen that in the supreme energy called Time, many incarnations like me come to pass. In the grand play of the universal Mother called Kali, many incarnations take birth, finish their job and merge into the same energy again. This is the truth, understand this properly.” Then Arjuna understood the mystery of divine incarnations.

In the recent Navratri season, we worshipped God in the form of Universal Mother. Among the devotees, I could see only a handful of Satvik worshippers here and there. However, in most places, lower level practices such as worthless rituals and animal sacrifices still continue to exist. Most forms of worship are performed only to fulfill one’s desires but not to gain spiritual illumination.

Rituals are good; but they should evolve into devotion and worship of the highest level. Mother does not need our animal sacrifices and rituals with vermilion and allied articles. Instead, if the animal nature in us is offered to Her as a sacrifice, that becomes the highest ritual. If we can kill the demon in us, that is the most ideal form of worship. Mother does not feel satisfied without killing the demon Mahishasura who is none other than the ego in us.

Mother does not need the animal sacrifices and food that we offer. The animal or demon is present in every one of us in the form of ego; he must be sacrificed. Without doing this, no matter how many rituals and chants are performed, our nature remains unchanged, which is of no avail. These rituals may give us some mundane benefits but not the ultimate benefit of spiritual illumination and ultimate release from all types of bondage. To attain that level, we need to know how to do the secret satvik worship.

Worship should not be a part time practice. It should consume the whole of your life to take you to the summits of Self realization and God realization. To achieve this, our religion has given many great ways and approaches by following which we can reach the destination. However, where are the men who are ready to walk the path? Who cares to walk the real spiritual path? Where could we find now, the divine valor of ancient sages, who could regulate the whole world by a mere glance? Where is the dispassionate majesty that could ignore the luxuries and comforts of the worldly people as mere blades of grass and proclaim to the world that only God realization is the ultimate desirable goal?

Where are the sages who are supposed to give the real teachings to awaken the ignorant people who are lost in their life, who can not see the unlimited wealth of knowledge around them, spending time in lower rituals? Where are the followers of the true path? What a disastrous situation we are in? In spite of having the legacy of the highest religion and wealth of knowledge, we are behaving like blind people.

Understand and practice the highest wisdom demonstrated by the Vedas, Upanishads and Tantras. We have to prove to the world that we are the real descendants of the sages.

Śṛṇvantu viśvē amṛtasya putrāḥ āyē dhāmāni tavāni tasyuḥ vēdāhamētaṁ puruṣaṁ mahāntaṁ ādityavarṇaṁ tamasastu pārē tamēva jñātvā atimṛtyu mēti nānyapandhā vidyatē ayanāya - listen to this divine hymn of the Upanishads, awaken, and get ready to do the work. Life is very short, if self realization is not achieved before death arrives, human birth gets wasted. Don’t ignore this truth.

Obtain the greatest result by practicing the pure Satvik Upasana.


All rights reserved. This article has been translated by Ranganath D, which was originally posted in teluguyogi.net on September 29, 2009. The content or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express permission of the publisher.

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