The Signs of Bhakti or Devotion
The true sign of devotion is the singing of such praise of the Lord as does not interfere with the concentration of the soul. The singing of such praise refreshes our remembrance of Him and keeps alive the current of devotion in our minds at all times.
Dancing in ecstatic devotion to the Lord is not devotion, because by such dancing the attention of the mind is deflected. For true devotion it is necessary for one to have bireh – longing and restlessness to meet the Beloved.
If one is arrogant or greedy in devotion, that devotion is the lowest or tamsik form of bhakti. If the idea of self-praise or fame enters one’s mind, the devotion is known as rajsik bhakti. But if all desires are eliminated and we offer our devotion as part of our natural and innate duty, it is called satvik bhakti.
The real or true devotion is beyond these three gunas – qualities. It is pure. It is without desire, is dedicated entirely to contemplation of the Lord, and will manifest itself through a surge of emotions from tear-laden eyes. A devotee of such a pure type is always happy at the Lotus Feet of the Lord. He has no desires and does not care for worldly pleasures, nor do the comforts of heaven have any attraction for him. Even the idea of salvation cannot remove his attention from the Lotus Feet of the Lord.
I do not want a kingdom, nor do I want salvation. I want only love for thy Lotus Feet!
A devotee of this kind is always absorbed in remembrance of the Lord. To him God is very dear, and he is also very dear to God. But his devotion is not blind faith. He is fully conscious of the presence of the Lord.
In the beginning, devotion starts by singing praises of the Lord. Then gradually it is transformed either completely or to a great extent into pure devotion, which is performed with concentrated mind and body.
The Gita states:
Pure Bhakti is always able to find the Lord.
Narad described this devotion by saying that the inner feelings of a person who is successful in his devotion are of such a nature that he thinks himself to be a tool and the object of his devotion as the user of the tool. He thinks himself to be a cart, and the Lord is the one who sits on it and guides it.
What can a poor puppet do? It acts according to the directions of the wire puller.
When devotion is fully settled in one’s heart, then all worldly ties or attachments are automatically cut off and worldly pleasures become insipid.