Nine Forms of Bhakthi- Devotion - SAKHYAM

Sakhyam is the eighth form of devotion wherein the devotee considers himself to be the ‘friend’ or sakhaa of the Supreme.

“Friendship should not be based on consideration of fear and favour. The only friend who will continue to be with you for all time is the Divine friend - God.”

In the Sakhyam stage, the devotee sees God as his friend. A friend is always your well-wisher, hence whatever happens is accepted as a special gift from this special Friend. Everything is seen as His Prasad. He sees God to be the companion by his side (in everything and everywhere). In every relationship he see Him. Sranavam (listening), Kirtanam (singing), Smaranam (contemplation), Padsevanam (serving His lotus feet), Archanam (worship), Vandanam (salutations) and Dasyam (considering the Lord his master) have brought him to the stage where he yearns not only to be with God at all levels, physical, mental and spiritual, and in all situations, but to merge and become one with Him.

The friend of God stops desiring the world and the worldly. His eye is fixed on his divine Friend alone. Eyeing his divine Friend he becomes a friend of all creation. His intentions have become purified, meaning he is no more selfish, he no more works for personal gains. From personal he has moved to the universal

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Arjuna conquered both sleep and ignorance because of his friendship with Kṛiṣṇa.

There is a story in the Bhagawad Gita about Krishna and Arjuna. Arjuna was said to be at the Sakhyam level of devotion and such was the relationship that Krishna always revealed the secrets of His actions to him.

One day when they were out in the jungle they lost their way. They eventually reached a village near the jungle. As they were hungry and tired they went to a rich man’s house and asked the residents for some food. The rich man only gave abuses and sent them off. On departing Krishna blessed the man with more riches.

Arjuna observed this but kept quiet.

Then they reached a poor man’s hut near the jungle. Likewise, they asked the resident for some food. It was a poor brahmin who lived there. He invited them in with joy and brought some milk for them. That was all he had in the house. Not knowing who they were, he followed the vedic call for ‘atithi devo bhavah’. He was a great devotee of the Lord and was pleased to be of service to Him in the form of these two strangers.

Thanking him for his kindness they left and Krishna blessed him with “may your cow die”.

Now this was too much for Arjuna to digest. How could his friend Krishna bless the rich man for abusing them and curse the brahmin for his sacrifice? He had a sickly looking old cow which gave only a little milk, which he offered to his hungry guests and so leaving nothing for himself.

Being a warrior Arjuna protested at the injustice in Krishna’s words. But can the Lord ever do injustice? Being a true friend of Arjuna, Krishna revealed the secret of His action. His blessing for the rich man to prosper more was actually a curse.

The rich man was already very arrogant because of his riches, he had no compassion in his heart for his fellow beings. By giving him more riches he was damned to stay in that arrogance which would increase. From the spiritual standpoint it was a curse, but from the worldly perspective it was taken to be a blessing. The Lord sees the spiritual standpoint only because it is that which brings us happiness and sorrow, and not the amount of money we have.

We devotees must learn to see things differently. Sakhyam 105 Krishna’s curse for the old brahmin was actually a blessing. Krishna revealed that the brahmin had detached himself from the world. He was only attached to his cow. So to remove his attachment to the cow, Krishna took it away. From that time onwards the brahmin learnt to depend solely on the Lord for his existence. He gave himself up to His care. It was a great step forward for him. So what was a curse from the worldly standpoint was actually a blessing from the spiritual standpoint.

Arjuna is another classic example of a devotee who achieved perfection through friendship with the lord.

Krishna was so familiar to Arjuna that he even asked Krishna to drive his chariot in the battle of Kurukshetra! And yet, when Arjuna became confused as he faced his relatives on the battlefield, he turned to his friend and charioteer for help. Because Arjuna had such a friendly rapport with the lord, his turning to Krishna for instruction was a shift in the relationship.

When Krishna reveals His magnificent universal form to His friend Arjuna, he was aghast, and stammered out an apology. “I have in the past addressed You as ‘O Krishna,’ ‘O Yadava,’ ‘O my friend,’ without knowing Your glories. Please forgive whatever I may have done in madness or in love.” (Bhagavad Gita. Chapter 11.41)
Krishna is so kind and merciful that in spite of such opulence He played with Arjuna as a friend. Such is the transcendental loving reciprocation between the devotee and the lord.
Although Arjuna had seen the opulence in Krishna’s universal form, he could not forget the friendly relationship with Him. This is the beauty of having an eternal friendship with the Lord!

Completely pure souls in the spiritual world enjoy a friendship with the lord because they have no desire for anything else. In the text Madhurashtakam it is stated –how sweet is lord’s friendship with us – “sakhyam madhuram”! Recognizing that the lord has already extended Himself to us, it is left to us to reciprocate His friendship.

In the Gita, Krishna declares, “He who searches me out in friendship he shall find Me. Then, I am always with him, always. He will never lose sight of me nor will I ever lose of him.”



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