The concluding teaching of Lord Krishna to Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita is surrender to Him by resigning all duties to Him, which offers an important insight into spiritual life.
Unless one has been diligently performing the duties enjoined in the scriptures (Karma yoga) how is it possible to renounce them in the first place? Is this not the plight of the majority of spiritual aspirants for they do not have the necessary prerequisites to follow any of the prescribed means to liberation? Just as a parent constantly remembers his child who is living abroad more than the one who lives with him, the Supreme Being is also concerned about the welfare of those in bondage as they are separated from Him. When a spiritual seeker turns to Him with devotion the Lord also responds with overwhelming compassion.
In his discourse, Nannilam Sri Vaidyanatha Diskhitar said the path to realise the Ultimate Reality was through devotion to the different forms of God. The Bhagavata Purana states that devotion to God springs in the heart of a person who worships the various manifestations of the Almighty. Absolute faith marks true devotion. But devotion does not mature to this level overnight. It is the culmination of a slow and steady process over several lifetimes but every act and effort in this direction results in spiritual merit.
There are five distinct prerequisites to develop devotion.
The first is penance, which broadly translates into all the good habits and devotional acts that one follows in life. This enables to stay attuned to the spiritual goal.
The second is reposing faith in God's grace.
Fidelity to truth is the third requisite, which by itself is of immense merit for the scriptures state that the Earth is sustained by truth.
The next requirement is a steadfast mind, which has to be developed by control of the sensory organs. Unless the mind develops concentration and does not get distracted by the attractions of the world it cannot engage in spiritual pursuit.
Finally, the seeker must take refuge in God with total faith in His saving grace.
After the sages compiled the Dharmasastras they deliberated what were the practices best suited to the Kali yuga. Only feeding others and devotion to God were chosen as they do not incur any transgression even if done improperly.
The above appeared in "The Hindu" on 21st Nov. The URL is as follows: