Nine Types of Devotion Suggested by Shri Sai Baba of Shirdi -

Nine Types of Devotion Suggested by Shri Sai Baba of Shirdi

Due to merits of past births, we have got the birth of a human being. So we should be ever conscious to attain the objective of our life i.e. self realization. Saints show us the way to achieve self realization. They make us to follow the path of their own remembrance which ultimately leads us to union with God. Sai Baba was one such saint, but the only exception was that he was God Incarnate but lived like a saint, a human, among others. He never claimed to be God, but always uttered that he was faithful servant of his master (God).

Bhakti or religious devotion is however of several types. On one extreme is the purest form of satvic (selfless) devotion that tends to be sacrificial and selfless in nature and leads to the liberation of its practitioner and his or her union with God. Next is the rajasic (egoistic) form of devotion that seeks to use devotion as a means to gain some physical, mental or spiritual power or boon in order to further ones own egoistic interests or selfish motive. 

On the other extreme is the dark and tamasic devotion that indulges in cruel and bizarre practices such as human or animal sacrifices and dark tantric rituals that aim to appease the objects of their devotion and gain control over things or cause intense pain and suffering to others in the most abominable, cruel and destructive manner. 

It is very well known incident that Sai Baba gave nine coins to Smt. Laxmibai before leaving his mortal body. These nine coins indicated nine types of devotion of him. Moreover Sai Baba has emphasized nine types of Bhakti. 1) Shravan (hearing) 2) Kirtan (praying) 3) Smaran (remembering) 4) Padasevan (resorting to feet) 5) Archan (worship) 6) Namaskar (bowing) 7) Dasya (service) 8) Sakhyam (friendship) 9) Atma-Nivedana (surrender of the self). All these types of Bhakti are included in the Nine Gems of Sai Bhakti, if practiced regularly would surely make you pass the Bhavsagar (ocean of life).

1) Shravan (hearing): Shravan means listening the glories, stories, plays (lila) of incarnations of God with pure love. The devotee gets absorbed in the hearing of Divine stories and his mind merges in the thought of divinity or his beloved God with deep faith. The mind loses, as it were, its charm for the world. We should hear the stories or lila of God with a sincere heart devoid of the sense of criticism or fault finding. 

2) Kirtan (praying): Kirtan is singing of Lord’s glories. Kirtan destroys devotees all sins and purifies mind and heart of devotee. It gives divine bless to devotees and it also purifies the whole environment. Kirtan is one of the quickest ways to get oneness with God. 

3) Smaran (remembering): Smaran means remembering God all the time without interruption. This is unbroken memory of the Name and Form of the Lord. There is a rule that whatever we remember all the time in our whole life, we remember the same at the time of death due to our practice. And our next birth depends upon what we remember at the time of death. If we remember God at the time of death, then cycle of birth and death stops and we get liberated and become one with God. So, smaran or remembrance of God is very essential.

4) Padasevan (resorting to feet): Padasevan is serving the lotus feet of the God. When the devotee constantly and intensely is attached to the Lotus Feet of the Lord he is said to be in the Param Bhakti of Padasevanam. 

5) Archana (worship): In this kaliyuga, the best way to worship the lord is by doing Archana or Worship to his Archa Vigrahas. Worship can be done either through an image or a picture or even in a mental form. Archana is offer beautiful and fragnant flowers in worship of God. God is pleased with whatever we offer him full of love. Lord Krishna said in Gita; Patra(leaves), Puspha (flowers), Jala (water), Toyam (fruits) whatever my devotee offers me with deep love and devotion, I become please with him and I personally come to receive it. The purpose of worship is to please the Lord, to purify the heart through surrender of the ego and love of God.

6) Namaskar (bowing): Vandana is another form of “Bhakti”. We can show towards the Lord. Vandana is prayer and prostration. Humble prostration touching the earth with the eight limbs of the body (Sashtanga-Namaskara), with faith and reverence, before a form of God, or prostration to all beings knowing them to be the forms of the One God, and getting absorbed in the Divine Love of the Lord is termed prostration to God or Vandana. The ego is effaced out completely through devout prayer and prostration to God.  

7) Dasya (service): Dasya Bhakti is the love of God through servant-sentiment. Fulfilling his wishes, realizing his virtues, nature, mystery and glory, considering oneself as a slave of God is Dasya Bhakti. In Dasya Bhakti the devotee considers himself a servant of God. 

8) Sakhyam (friendship): Sakhaya bhava utilizes friendship which exists only between equals. God raises the human to His level and becomes one with the soul. The aim of making friend is to be in close company of God all the time, love him and feel oneness with him

9) Atma-Nivedana (surrender of the self): Atma-nivedana means complete self surrender to God. The devotee offers everything to God, including his body, mind and soul. He keeps nothing for himself. This self- surrender is absolute love for God. By complete surrender of self to God, God takes all responsibility of his devotee. By Atma-nivedana devotees becomes egoless and desire less, experiences oneness with God and merged into God at the end. 

The nine modes of Bhakti are the ways in which a devotee attains the Supreme ideal of life.

Contributed by: Shikha Mishra