There are many sadhanas for awakening bhakti. The sadbana of the great bhakta Ramdas was called mantra upasana (worship through mantra). It includes the following four practices:
- Continuous mental and verbal chanting of a mantra. In his case it was Sri Ram Jaya Ram JayaJaya Ram.
- Visualization of the form of the guru in your heart.
- Identification of every object on which the mind dwells with divinity. Whatever you think of, remember that it is the form of the supreme.
- Observation of the mind. Take the attitude of watching the processes of the mind. This is awareness.
You will note the great similarity between his sadhana and the list we have given from the Srimad Bhagavatam. His method was a condensed version.
Another great help is to study and think about the infinite events occurring in nature. The sun rises and sets. The moon waxes and wanes. The flowers bloom, each variety almost simultaneously. The birds sing. The clouds float across the sky. Babies are born. An infinite number of magical events are occurring around us. A million pages could be written on this subject. Each event is a miracle. How do they happen? What is the force, the intelligence behind these multitudinous occurrences? Everything is a marvellous miracle. Let these things continually remind you of the wonder of existence. Let these things remind you of the supreme.
Try to do every action as a worship of the supreme. Let every thought be an expression of devotion. Offer your actions and thoughts to your guru or to the incarnation of the supreme that stirs your heart. This is the way to perfection.
Visualize and concentrate on a picture of any great saint, bhakta, yogi, sage, incarnation such as Guru Nanak, Kabir, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Paramahamsa Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda, Ramana Maharshi, Adi Sai Baba, Sri Aurobindo, Swami Sivananda, Swami Ramdas, Mohammed, any of the Sufi saints, Christ or any of the Christian saints such as St. Francis or St. Teresa, any of the Jewish saints, Buddha, Mahavir, Krishna, Rama, Milarepa and anyone you care to choose. Or you can concentrate on your guru if you have one. The choice is yours, but there must be devotion.
In the Uddhava Gita Krishna instructs his disciple Uddhava: “Having withdrawn the senses (pratyahara) from contact with the surroundings, the devotee should concentrate on my form, especially one part such as my smiling face. Then he should be aware of mv all pervading self which is free like the sky. Leaving that after some time, he should feel as though he is one with me, and stop thinking of all other things. He will see me, the antaryamin (the inner being) in himself, and himself in me like the light that is united with the fire. All doubts about matter, knowledge and action will completely cease.”
Use any symbol of the supreme. This will take you beyond the symbol itself, if you have intensity and sincerity. It is difficult for most people to feel love (prem) for something intangible or impersonal. It is for this reason that a concrete form is utilized. Total absorp-tion in the limited form or name will lead to the unlimited.