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Importance of Bhakti
Advaita, Visishtadvaita, and Dvaita are one in the emphasis on Bhakti to obtain God's grace. The fact that man alone, among the creatures of the world, grows vertically, where as the other creatures grow horizontally, indicates that he should also strive to grow taller in spiritual stature. Such an eminence in stature comes from Jnana which alone gives abiding peace or saanti. Man undergoes troubles and pains in a greater measure than other animals; but that is compensated for by this capacity to acquire Jnana, which makes for the realisation of Truth and the experiencing of Aananda or Supreme Saanti. Jnana itself begets Aananda and Jnanaananda is Parama mangalam. Isvara is of the nature of this Jnanaananda. He is the Paramataman in whom all auspicious qualities are fully affirmed in a superlative measure. Even as the ocean is the repository of all waters, Isvara is fullness, the All. There is no other to him. He is the All with out a second. That is Advaita. Idam Sarvam Purusha Eva, all this is the Paramatman, says the Sruti. Sri Sankara expounds this truth with Yukti(logic) and Anubhava(experience).
But mere intellectual comprohension of it is not enough. It must be realised as a fact in one's own experience. For such realisation grace of God is a pre-requisite. Isvaraanugrahaadeva Pumsaam Advaita Vaasana. We begin with a feeling of distinctness from God. The predicament of worship is one of duality of Deity and Devotee. But even then the devotee does not feel that God is external to him and to the Universe; He has the consciousness that God is imminent in himself and in every particle of the world, in-dwelling every where and in everything, how ever minute. Our duty is worship Him in this way with devotion, and if we do so, He reveals His true nature to us. Bhagavan says :
BHAKTYAA MAM ABHIJANAATI YAAVAAN YASCHAAMI TATVATAH
The word, BHAKTYAA, meaning through devotion, shows that bhakthi is the means for the realisation of the truth of God's nature. Advaita, Visishtadvaita, and Dvaita are one in this emphasis on Bhakti to obtain God's grace. To whatever school we belong, we should invoke that grace through Bhakti, leaving it to Him to reavel the truth of His nature. All Achaaryas have stressed this need for Bhakti.
This devotion must evidence itself in fulfilling God's commands in observing the duties laid on us in the Vedaas. To say 'I have devotion to God', and not to act upto His commands is meaningless. Performance of prescribed duties, Vihitikara-maanushtaana, is the sign of true devotion. Doing one's Karma, one should dedicate it to God. Obligatory duties are Nitya and Naimittika. Vaishnavites significantly refer to them as Aajna Kainkarya. Such performance of Karmas as detailed in the Vedaas is true Isvara Aaradhana. They not only bring about personal merit, but also secure the welfare of the whole world. Thus Karma, Bhakti, and Jnana do constitute the scheme of salvation.