Service to God Is Devotion
The fundamental idea behind action is expressed in the following sloka:
“Karma brahmeti karma bahu kurviita”.
The fundamental idea behind knowledge is:
“Satyam jiṋánam anantaḿ Brahma.”
But the main underlying idea of devotion is:
Bhaktirbhagavato sevá bhaktih premasvarúpinii
Bhaktiránandarúpa ca bhaktih bhaktasya jiivanam.
On the paths of action and knowledge, Parama Puruśa is the goal, the entity to be realized, and there is a definite cult to attain Him, to realize Him. But on the path of Bhakti (devotion), it is the goal itself and not a cult. This is the fundamental difference between devotion on the one hand and knowledge and action on the other.
Bhakti is neither a cult nor an applied science; rather it is the highest stance of a cult. Those who follow the paths of action and knowledge say, “I want to realize the Supreme Entity.” But the idea in the devotee’s mind is, “I want to serve Parama Puruśa.” That is, the idea of service is predominant in Bhakti. This is the meaning of the first part of the sloka:
“Bhaktirbhagavato sevá.” “I don’t want anything from You, I don’t want even to know You, I only want to serve You.” Herein lies the excellence, as well as the superiority of Bhakti.
“Bhaktih premasvarupinii.” The awakening of devotion causes the aesthetic sense – the feeling of beauty that is dormant in one’s heart – to express itself fully.
“Bhaktiránanda rupáca”. What is bliss (Ánanda)? Bliss is the completely balanced state of mind, the highest state of human life. One who experiences bliss is not affected at all by feelings of happiness or sorrow. This sort of mental state, Ánanda or bliss is unassailed by feelings of happiness or sorrows. The bliss that is expressed through both “Ananda” or Bliss-subjectivity and objectivity is known as devotion.
People may say that there is a gulf of difference between subjectivity (internal feelings) and objectivity (external expressions). Why, then, are such contradictory adjectives used about the devotees? The reason is that the unit beings are both individually and collectively associated with Brahmananda (Cosmic Bliss). That is why in the state of devotional bliss there is no difference between subjectivity and objectivity. In the case of Ananda both these terms are used.
“Bhaktih bhaktasya jiivanam.” What is life? It is the expression of vital energy. Because of this expression, the inferential vibrations of the world get scope for reflection. This life is one of reflecting entity. For devotees, devotion alone is life, the expression of their vital energy. Where there is no devotion, when the devotion gets exhausted, the throbbing of their lives also stops. That is why devotees cannot even think of surviving without devotion, devotion is the very expression of their life.
For this reason I said that devotion is fundamentally different from action and knowledge. If we put action and knowledge on one side of a scale, and devotion on the other side, the scale will tilt in favour of devotion. Educated, intelligent and clever people consider the path of devotion to be superior. Devotees, on the other hand, consider the paths of action and knowledge to be those of the fools.
–P.R. Sarkar (also known as Shrii Shrii Anandamurti)
Ananda Marga Karma Sannyása in a Nutshell [a compilation]
Ánanda Vacanámrtam Part 15 [unpublished in English]