“I have a mind that has become thoroughly filled with thoughts of Him, with all my sentiments directed at Him. As I am constantly thinking about Him, in that manner I am seeing Him today and hearing about Him.” (Sita Devi, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 32.12)
aham hi tasya adya mano bhavena sampīḍitā tat gata sarva bhāvā |
vicintayantī satatam tam eva tathaiva paśyāmi tathā śṛṇomi ||
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“Get out of my head. Stop bothering me already. I don’t want to think about you anymore.” Those tormented by affection for a particular person know these sentiments all too well. Those who wish to forget a past incident also have likely said the same under their breath a few times. When the mind is consumed with thoughts of a particular object, it appears that the object comes to life. No matter where they look, no matter which way they turn, they keep seeing that one thing. When the object stuck in the mind is the Supreme Personality of Godhead in one of His many beautiful forms, then the apparent curse turns into the greatest blessing.
That blessing explains how bhakti-yoga works at the constitutional level.
“What are the other levels? How is bhakti practiced at the non-constitutional level?“
The word “practiced” reveals everything. When that word is present, the bhakti, or devotion, is not at the constitutional level. Take any particular field and consider the experts in it. The person who is very good at billiards likely doesn’t need to practice an easy shot. They don’t have to think. With a mind focused on something else even, they can line up their shot and make it almost every single time. The expert typist doesn’t have to look at the keyboard when doing their work. They don’t have to check to see that everything is coming across on the screen accurately. Their typing is at a level where it becomes second nature.
That highest level in bhakti is described as constitutional because it is the origin from which everyone has descended. This means that previously we were perfectly conscious of God. We never thought of competing with Him. The thought of surpassing Him in any area of opulence never entered our mind. We worried only about how His pleasure could increase every day. We used the days as a delimiter for systematically executing our schemes to please Him. The expert organizers in this area are Vrinda Devi and Paurnamasi, who know how best to bring pleasure to God in His original form of Krishna. They devise schemes in the spiritual land of Vrindavana to allow Krishna to meet with His beloved Radha in ideal settings.
Falling from the spiritual world, we get separated from the constitutional level of bhakti. To get it back we have to practice. In the beginning we follow rules and regulations. If we are fortunate enough to believe in God, we fear Him a little bit. Since we think that rewards other than devotion to Him are more important, we approach Him with requests. We ask that He keep our family members safe and healthy. We ask that He give us enough provisions to maintain our livelihood.
If we are doubly fortunate and hear from someone who is at the constitutional level of bhakti-yoga, we take our religious practices up a notch. In this step, we do what our guide tells us out of love and respect for them. We start to chant the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. We try to think of the Supreme Lord as often as possible. We believe in the fact that He is all-attractive, that any aspect of His personal self is worth contemplating. Though we still have desires for material enjoyment, we suppress them as best we can.
The constitutional position is one step further. Then there is no need for practice. There is no need for thinking of God in a certain way. The love is there, and it remains. It cannot go away. An example of what results comes to us courtesy of Sita Devi in the quote referenced above. From the famous Ramayana of Valmiki, this verse explains how Sita is consumed with thoughts of Rama, who is her dear husband. Rama is also all-attractive, carrying His bow and arrow with Him and revealing to His devotees a beaming smile that instantly cures the dangerous enemy known as pride. Rama is God Himself, and Sita is always with Him. Their relationship is in marriage, which means that Rama voluntarily binds Himself by duty to protect Sita. She too uses the excuse of following the duties of a wife to always remain with Him.
The link between the two is so strong that one never forgets the other. The love for Rama essentially torments Sita. And that torment is a wonderful thing since it brings her husband’s association. Since she’s always thinking of Him, it’s like she sees Him everywhere. She hears of Him, too. Of course in this situation the seeing and hearing are not created by the mind. Hanuman is within vicinity, and he is describing Rama to Sita.
It is like music to her ears, as she will soon be reunited with Rama after a long period of uncertainty, which was created by the evil king of Lanka, Ravana. And so the long spell of misery triggered by the fall from the spiritual world, spanning many lifetimes, comes to an end when bhakti-yoga reaches the constitutional level. We will know it is there when we become helpless in our thoughts, when Sita and Rama will never leave our mind no matter how hard we may try.
No matter how hard to try,
Rama not to leave heart of mine.
Constitutional level explains,
In which Sita Devi always remains.
In whichever direction Him to see,
Of His association never to be free.
A boon is this helpless condition,
Bound always by God’s affection.
Categories: spotting hanuman
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