top of page
  • Writer's pictureJitendra Savanur

Joy of Devotion

On August 13th 1965, an elderly man, seventy years old, was boarding a cargo ship headed to the United States. Very few people, one or two, were there to say goodbye. People who sponsored his journey said that he would succumb to the turbulent voyage through the Atlantic. Yet here he was, all alone, with some forty rupees and a trunk of books, painstakingly authored by himself. He had left behind everything, his family, his business, and most importantly, his comforts.

Being a devout follower of something, especially religion, is not necessarily seen as a very desirable thing nowadays. As I looked up into the Oxford dictionary for the meaning of the word ‘devotion’, the first entry I found was this: ‘Love, loyalty, or enthusiasm for a person or activity.’ Love, loyalty and enthusiasm are fine, but to the extent of being ready to pursue your goal against absolutely all odds, including your own life? That is rare to see. I have friend who serves as an officer in the Indian Army. When I asked him what do soldiers think while leaving for an assignment which may cost them their lives, he said, “There is a joy in living your life for a sublime cause. It is this joy which keeps us going.” I had heard it many times, from many people. But to hear it from someone who is experiencing it day-in and day-out was something special. As the saying goes, ‘Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced.’ And when a person speaks out of experience, it touches the heart of the hearer.It is but natural to wonder what makes these people take such huge risks, putting their life at stake.

Bhakti, or devotion, is upheld as the most sublime form of spirituality in the theistic traditions of India. It crashes through the barriers of the mind and intelligence and directly touches the soul, uplifting the practitioner in all aspects of life. Thousands of saints from India have served humanity by sharing this message of love and devotion to God with the masses. Why India alone, even Jesus upheld love for God as the highest goal attainable by humans, and he gave his very life in trying to protect this truth. All of us are pleasure-seeking. Seeking happiness and pleasure is the central goal of whatever we do, be it serving the nation at the borders or earning money as a businessman, or even simply helping someone cross the road.

Service is what is innate and inherent to all of us. This service, when imbued with a genuine sense of devotion, rewards us with joy, which is ever-cherishable through the hills and valleys, through the crests and troughs of life. And the joy is even more relishable when the devotion is selfless. In today’s fast-paced world, when everything is consumption-centric, selfless devotion may sound like a utopian idea, and even stifling or suffocating. However, even today, there are people who have selflessly dedicated their lives for the overall well-being of humanity, although they may not be in the limelight for doing what they do. Perhaps, they are experiencing the joy of devotion, which is so fulfilling that their own comforts and agendas become a secondary concern.

My brother was gifted with a baby girl recently. When I met him, he told me that bringing up a child is not a joke. We all know that children sometimes take us into a hyper-anxiety mode by their frivolous and often self-sabotaging acts. From what I see in his life, it is clear that correcting children and teaching them to make right choices in life requires lot of selfless determination. It may even entail the parents giving up their long cherished dreams for the child’s welfare. Yet, when the child grows up to become a successful and responsible person, it gives the parents the happiness and joy which very aptly put, is worth all the troubles they took during their child’s beginning years. Indeed, selfless devotion is visible in all walks of life, provided we possess the right vision.

Coming back to that elderly man, little did he know that he would span the entire globe fourteen times in the time to come, little did he know that he would be the inspiration for millions of people world-wide in their practice of selfless devotion and in sharing this message to others, little did he know that he would be internationally recognized as the foremost scholar of Vedic tradition, little did he know that he would write up to eighty books, each of them a philosophical treat in itself. But something he did know very well. The joy of devotion to God and His Holy Name, the joy of connecting the less fortunate ones to the grace of God, the joy of following the words of his spiritual master to gift the wisdom of ancient India to the West, and the joy of giving his life in the pursuit of selfless service to others, despite his dwindling health, was something unparalleled to any joy available in this ever-changing world. His name is AC Bhaktivedanta Swami, lovingly known by his children as Prabhupada. And certainly, he had tasted the joy of devotion, and enabled many to do the same. To conclude, a few lines come to my mind: The joy of devotion hath no limits, Deep within the heart it goes, Directed towards the supreme lover, The culmination of love it echoes. By serving others with this in heart, Seeds of fulfillment, thou shall sow, Give thyself, with a selfless heart, In that way, thou shall grow...

9 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Mukti Redefined

Suffering the pangs of material struggle, we all yearn for respite. The Vedas talk about four purusharthas or human objectives: dharma, artha, kama and moksha. By performing our dharma (religious duti

When God Offers a Discount

An offer too good to refuse In the retail industry, a tremendous amount of planning and strategy is involved in pricing products. Using thorough research into the thinking patterns of shoppers, every


bottom of page