Living Bhakti

Shabari is the kind of bhakta I want to be. She carried her bhakti, her relationship with God throughout her entire day. She turned each action into service to God. Is this not what an Atma Kriya Yogi does?

Who do I want to be when I stand up from my meditation mat? 

Who do you want to be when you stand up from your meditation mat?

Am I still an Atma Kriya Yogi? Are you?

I remember the first time I heard the story of Shabari - a saint and devotee of Rama. As a child, her guru told her that she would receive Lord Rama in her home one day and so, she spent the rest of her life living each day as if that was the day she would greet Rama. She cleaned her home with care because maybe Rama would arrive that day and she wanted her home to be clean for Him. She cooked each meal as if that was the meal she would serve Him. She treated each person with kindness and compassion and humility because she did not know which form Rama would arrive in. She lived for Rama. She lived bhakti.

Finally, decades years after being told Rama would grace her with His presence, He finally arrived - walking up the little dirt path to her humble home with Lakshmana at His side. I picture Shabari, now an old woman, with long gray hair, a hunched back, aching joints and only two teeth.

Bhagavan doesn't need to go anywhere. What pulls him is this bhakti. Then Bhagavan says, 'You don't need to come to Me. Have this devotion, have this bhakti, and I'll come to you.'

Paramahamsa Vishwananda

Far from the little girl she once was, Shabari greeted him with a smile of her two teeth and welcomed Him inside. She offered Him only the sweetest fruit - each one taste-tested to ensure it was good enough for her beloved Lord. Lakshmana, who was thoroughly confused and disgusted by such offerings and his brother’s apparent delight, asked Rama how He could dare accept such offences. 

With a smile still for Shabari, Rama said ‘It is her love that I accept.’

Shabari lived bhakti. She lived her love-relationship with God. But sometimes, when I meditate upon her, I wonder if she ever got lazy and only cleaned the house a little? In all those years waiting for Rama, did she ever doubt He would come? Did she ever get short-tempered and grumpy with someone? Did she rush through her prayers at night sometimes because she was tired and just wanted to go to bed? In other words, was she ever like me?

At the same time, I realise Shabari is the kind of bhakta I want to be. She carried her bhakti, her relationship with God throughout her entire day. She turned each action into service to God. Is this not what an Atma Kriya Yogi does?

Atma Kriya Yoga does not begin and end on our meditation mat. It comes to permeate our entire day. In just a few short weeks, we’ll be hosting the next Living Bhakti Retreat - a ten-week, Atma Kriya Yoga journey dedicated to discovering bhakti, to living bhakti, and deepening our relationship with God so that hopefully we can be a little more like Shabari.