Nine Forms of Bhakthi- Devotion- Padasevana

Padasevana, or Rendering Service to the Lordís Feet

Innumerable ways have been instituted to help an individual soul to

establish identity with the universal soul. The ecstasy of receiving lord'sgrace by subjugating in all humility to reach sublimation is one of the mostsweetest and easiest paths to follow that demands little criterion. This isone way of establishing identity and devotion. The humility that springs outof devotion to the lord finds expression in various ways. When PrahlAdA wasasked, What is the best lesson worth learning? he said,

shravaNam kIrtanam vishNoH smaraNam pAda-sevanam |archanam vandanam dAsyam sakyam Atmanivedanam ||

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Padasevana is serving the Lord's feet. Actually this can be done only by Sri Lakshmi or Sri Parvati. No mortal being has got the fortune to practise this method of Bhakti for the Lord is not visible to the physical eyes. But it is possible to serve the image of God in idols and better still, taking the whole humanity as God. This is Padasevana.

Service to the Lordís feet can be done through formal worship to oneís guru, to images of God in temples or oneís home, or to a mental image of God. There are many ritual forms of padasevana, such as: observing the sacred feet of the Lord again and again with devotional gaze; worshipping and serving them; sipping the sacred water in which the Lordís feet have been washed; worshipping the sandals of the Lord; meditating on them and praying to them; taking the dust of the Lordís feet and applying it to the forehead; serving in holy shrines and places of pilgrimage and places where the Lord incarnated for the good of humanity; regarding the Ganges as directly flowing from the feet of the Lord; worshipping, bathing in and drinking of such divine water. This kind of upasana destroys all worldly attachments and allows the mind to think exclusively of God.

Bharata served the sandals of Sri Rama throughout the period of his exile. What devotion! He kept them on the throne and worshipped them as representing Sri Rama himself. He ruled the kingdom in the name of Sri Ramaís sandals, acting only as the servant of Rama. This is worship through padasevana.

Padasevana is also service of the sick. Padasevana is service of the poor. Padasevana is service of the whole humanity at large. The whole universe is only Virat-Svarupa. Service of the world is service of the Lord.
Swami Vivekananda taught this kind of worship as a potent form of spiritual practice for the present time. He called it Shiva-jnane jiva-seva (service to beings looking upon them as manifestations of God). He said, ďYou may invent an image through which to worship God, but a better image already exists, the living man. You may build a temple in which to worship God, and that may be good, but a better one, a much higher one, already exists, the human body.Ē Swami Vivekananda spoke of four kinds of service.

1. Service to the physical dimension of living beings, which assumes the form of the gift of food, clothing, and shelter.

2. Medical help, which consists in saving or prolonging a life.

3. The gift of ideas, or the gift of education, by which the recipient is able to think for himself, become self-reliant, and improve the quality of his life. 4. Spiritual help, which shows the recipient the way to God-realization, or discovery of his inner Self.

Source: yogamag


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