Cherished Memoirs 63 – Sri Swamiji’s explanation on the term – ‘Bhaya Bhakti’

This series chronicles interesting experiences recounted by the devotees of HH Maharanyam Sri Sri Muralidhara Swamiji. These articles are translations from the series, “Madhuramaana Mahaneeyar” that is published every month in Madhuramurali Tamil monthly magazine.  The original article was written by Dr. Bhagyanathanji, Personal Secretary of Sri Swamiji.

Sri Swamiji’s explanation on the term – ‘Bhaya Bhakti’

Recently, a devotee who had come to the Ashram raised a question to Sri Swamiji, “Is not bhakti said to be love for God? Why then do we colloquially use the term bhaya bhakti (bhakti mixed with fear)? How can fear and bhakti go together?”

Sri Swamiji gave a wonderful explanation for this. He said, “Some say that one should fear God. Some others say, ‘Why should one fear God? Fearing God does not sound good to me. One should have only love for God. Bhakti alone is enough.’”

He then continued, “Should one fear God? Should one have bhakti for God? Or should one hold fear and bhakti towards God? Is God a wild animal for us to fear? Or is he some creature like a scorpion or serpent for us to fear? Or does He dislike us? Is He our enemy? Why should we fear Him? Is He not verily our Father, Mother, Guardian, Leader? Why then fear Him? Do we nurture fear of God throwing some curse on us? One who curses cannot be God at all!

“When Bhrigu Muni kicked Bhagavan, did He enquire of him with deep concern, ‘Are your legs aching as it has hit against this hard heart of mine?’ God does not get angry. He does not know to punish. God will never harm anyone. He is interested only in our welfare. God never forsakes those who have faith in Him. Why then should one fear Him?

“Well, let us take up worldly life. Say, we like a person a lot. We will keep watching him and enjoy seeing him. We would like to be with him always. Separation from him would bring sorrow. We yearn for his attention and think, ‘Won’t he smile at me?’ What is the reason behind this? We don’t know. We like him; that’s reason enough. We see several others yearning to speak with this person and desire to associate with him in some way or the other. If the person whom we like does not look at us or speak to us or remains indifferent it would be hard for us to bear it. We would go mad. This experience is inexplicable!

“Let us now take up the subject matter on hand. If moving with a human cause this state what then to speak of God’s Love? How lofty is that Love! The love that we humans have for God is of a human nature. The compassion that God has for us is divine. Only those who experience that divine love knows its joy! We should always hold the fear of losing the divine love of God due to our folly. Should we not have that kind of fear along with bhakti? Who can refute this!”

Dr. Bhagyanathan, personal secretary to His Holiness Sri Sri Muralidhara Swamiji
Originally published in MadhuraMurali Tamil monthly magazine, July 2018 issue. Translated by Nisha Giri, Houston TX

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