There are 8.4 million species on the earth planet. Amongst them, the human form of life is the only one where spiritual practice is made possible to get rid of all sorrows and attain eternal happiness. This human life is so rare that even celestial Gods long for it. This human form can only be attained by the ultimate grace of God.
We are already aware that Supreme God, Shree Krishna is synonymous with Bliss. Therefore, this proves that the attainment of God is the only goal of human life, since we all seek happiness. We also know that the only way to achieve this is to practice Bhakti (Devotion). In Bhakti, all we need to do is remember God in our mind and keep increasing our love for Him. We have to increase the longing for His Divine vision. This alone has the power to purify our hearts and when the process is complete, our guru will bestow upon us the priceless Divine love of Shree Radha Krishna.
There are many types of Bhakti, but three of them are most significant: - Shravan Bhakti, Kirtan Bhakti and Smaran Bhakti.
Shravan Bhakti means to listen to knowledge related to God, understand it and follow it. To chant, sing and immerse ourselves in the Divine names of God, His virtues, His glories and His pastimes is known as Kirtan Bhakti.
Smaran Bhakti is to deeply meditate on the form of God in your mind. This is called as Roopdhyan. Every individual is qualified and has the right to do Bhakti, unlike other paths (Gyan and Yog) where there are many rules, conditions and pre-requisites.
There are three main conditions which every follower of the path Bhakti has to fulfill.
trinādapi sunīchen tarorapi sahiṣhṇunā |
amāninā mānden kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ ||
Humility trinādapi sunīchen - A devotee must be more humble than a blade of grass. A devotee must realize and consider oneself to be more humble than a blade of grass. When you crush grass under your feet, it never protests or complaints. It bends as directed and then becomes straight after a while. In the same way, one should always be humble in his/her behavior.
Forbearing / Tolerance tarorapi sahiṣhṇunā - A devotee must be more forgiving/tolerant than a tree that bears fruits. When someone throws a stone at the tree, it does not get angry but in return, gives us a fruit, is it not amazing! It replies to your anger with a sweet fruit for your benefit! Svayam na khādanti phalāni vṛikṣhāḥ. The tree itself does not eat the fruits. It feeds everybody.
Respect for others - A devotee should not be looking for praise or compliments, but rather have respect for others. A devotee should always give respect to others and should not desire respect in return.
In this way, one should lead a life filled with humility, tolerance and respect for others. A devotee should always chant, sing and remember God, His pastimes, His grace and virtues with affinity every moment.
Having respect for others without seeking any compliments, being humble and always forgiving, all of these virtues can be expressed in one word, Humility. It is the foundation of devotion. Devotion starts, stays, and develops only on the basis of humbleness. Any touch of pride and ego spoils it, just like a pinch of salt spoils a cake. Pride or ego is an obstacle in devotion. Humbleness of a devotee develops dedication to his master and dependence on God's Grace.
We like to be appreciated by others. This is a major reason for a person's downfall spiritually. We should try to become a good person, rather than expecting others to appreciate us even though we might have ill-feelings for others. When someone criticizes or scolds us, we start feeling bad. We get angry and annoyed with that person and we sometimes turn hostile towards that person. We harbor hatred and negative feelings for others. This kind of feeling is very harmful for us.
If we continuously remember people or incidents that increase negative feelings inside us, then we are causing harm to ourselves by dirtying our mind. Our aim should be practice the art of continuously remembering God and Guru, who are pure and Divine personalities. This alone will cleanse our heart and mind. In our lives, we have developed a one-sided attitude where we only like to be appreciated and not criticized.
Once, a person started to abuse and criticize Lord Buddha and continued to do so for the whole day. By evening, he could hardly speak a word. Lord Buddha advised His disciple, "Give him something to eat. He has been at work since morning and he must be tired". The man abusing Lord Buddha was completely surprised. He said to Lord Buddha, "Are You made of stone? I have been humiliating you the whole day and you give me food to eat?"
Lord Buddha replied, "Tell me something my friend. If you give something to a person and he does not accept it, what will happen to that gift? It will remain with the same person who gifted it in the first place. In the same way, whatever abuse you hurled at me has remained with you since I did not accept it. If you had spoken a few words about God, His virtues, His pastimes or His abodes, I would have gladly accepted them."
Hence, we should aim to develop a liking for criticism and resist the temptation to be appreciated. When we reach such a stage where we like to be criticized and dislike being complimented, then we will progress at a very fast pace.
We should always remember a very important fact. Till the moment we attain God, we will be under the influence of Maya and we will continue to suffer from the diseases of the mind like desire, anger, jealousy, hatred, ego, etc. We have also accumulated innumerable sins from our past lives and all of these will be destroyed only with the attainment of God.
sarvadharmān parityajya māmekam śharaṇam vraja
aham tvām sarvapāpebhyo mokṣhayiṣhyāmi mā śhuchaḥ
If someone calls us names or criticizes us as an angry, sinful or a bad person, then what is wrong with it? It is a fact and we should happily accept all these faults and try to rectify them.
Here is an interesting analogy. When we introduce a policeman as a 'Policeman', he never complains or asks us to identify him as a 'Director General'. He is happy to be called as a 'Constable'. In the same way, when we people are sinners, why do we feel bad about being criticized?
Saint Tulsidas says:
nindak niyare rākhiye āṅgan kuṭi chhavāy
The one who points out our faults or mistakes is our well-wisher. When a snake or a scorpion creeps up our body, and someone alerts us, we call him our well wisher.
There is one more point that we should remember. As long as we remember God, only that period (moment) can be considered as 'good' or 'right' deeds. The rest, we can conclude that only bad deeds are performed since that time (moments) are not dedicated to God. Have we ever realized how many hours do we think of God in a 24-hour day?
We must repeatedly think and resolve that even if someone criticizes us, we will not feel bad. Practice makes a man perfect. Everyday at night, before we sleep, we must recall, "How many times have I erred today? How many times did I commit the same mistake?" The next day, we will be more alert and cautious. In this way, by constant and relentless practice, we will stop feeling bad when others talk ill of us.
Shree Krishna resides in our heart and notices each and every idea of ours. We should not get hurt or feel bad or get disturbed, because His Grace is dependent on our mind being detached from worldly feelings and completely attached in Him.
Constant remembrance of this thought will lessen our faults, and at the same time, we will attempt to remember God. We should not have any ill feelings towards the one who criticizes us because Shree Krishna resides in his heart also. Be neutral with the one who finds fault in you and do not have a feeling of hatred towards anyone.
Shed tears by this saying prayer again and again:
yadi dainyam tvatkṛipāheturnatadasti mamāṇvapi
tām kṛipām karu rādheśh! yayā te dainyamāpnuyām
It means "O Shree Krishna! If you bestow your grace on humble ones then I am not at all humble. Therefore, grace me in such a way that I develop the feeling of being humble and shed tears." Remember that there is no way out of this and it is absolutely mandatory to practice this Sadhana, as human life is temporary and momentary.
Eventually by constant practice, our faults will vanish. Hence, with practice, all our faults will slowly and gradually vanish and you will feel calm and peaceful.