“Bhakti” denotes spontaneous loving service. When a loyal servant gives service to his master in exchange of some monetary benefit it is not considered as Bhakti for it comes under the category of hired service.
Similarly a friend helping one of his fellow friends in consideration of obligation or in expecting a reward or with a sense of gratitude cannot be termed as spontaneous loving service or Bhakti. In the same lines when a father serves his son expecting some future benefit for himself or son serves his father as a duty is not considered as spontaneous loving service or Bhakti. Similarly if a wife loves her husband because of his fat purse or a husband loves a wife because of her skin and complexion, it is not considered as spontaneous loving service.
The relations which we maintain in our temporary stay in this material world such as the relation between a master and servant; between husband and wife and any such relations cannot be categorized as Bhakti because any ordinary relation of this world will carry a motive behind it. Even if we come across some relationships apparently without any motive, by deep thought we could make out the motive in a lower or higher degree. But Bhakti or spontaneous loving service can never be subscribed to any object of this world because it is reserved to the Supreme personality of Godhead.
The term “Service” entails the acknowledgement of a person who is served and a person who gives the service. The Supreme Lord being omnipresent implies that His service, His servants as well as Bhakti is also omnipresent. Bhakti is without any inebrieties and transcendental to all ordinary ideas of service. The service in this material world is full of selfishness and motivation but Bhakti is completely free from all such mundane ideas. Nothing can aid in attaining Bhakti or nothing can be determinative for practicing bhakti. Bhakti in her pure state is herself the means and the end.
Service to Godhead in its unalloyed form of devotion without any contamination of any other desire for reward is called as Bhakti. Motivated service to Supreme lord with an idea of achieving or expecting something is not Bhakti. Sometimes it is seen that the devotees when in the modes of material nature would take to devotional service with some desire which can be pided into modes of goodness, passion and ignorance. Bhakti rendered in the mode of darkness is characterized by desire of envy, anger, pride, enmity and such products. Those who offer their prayers to the Supreme Lord for the sake of destruction of their enemies are characterized as Bhakti in the mode of darkness.
The Supreme lord categorically declares in the Bhagavad gita that he protects his devotees and annihilates all disturbing demons hence there is no need for one to separately plead for annihilation of his enemies. The supreme lord asks Arjuna to declare that his devotees are never vanquished in any circumstances.
When a devotee worships or renders service of the Supreme lord with an intention of accumulating wealth, name and fame etc., then it is categorized under the modes of passion. Similarly a person with a sense of duty towards the supreme is in the modes of Goodness.
Pure Bhakti is never tinged with such material modes of goodness, passion and ignorance. A shaded deception of spontaneous love is visible in the affairs of the youth. A young man gets attracted to a young woman spontaneously from his heart and the young woman also desires to associate with the young man with the same eagerness. But all of this spontaneity is only because of pleasing themselves specifically their own senses. This display of lust gives us an idea of spontaneity of love, which is only applicable in the transcendental service of the lord. Service of the Lord which springs from the spiritual plane bereft of all actions driven by mental and physical gain is called as Bhakti; therefore she is unalloyed in nature. It is performed with love and with no motivation of profit for personal gain. When we engage such unalloyed devotion in transcendental service of the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna with the intention of pleasing his senses only, then it is called as pure Bhakti.
According to the author of Chaitanya Charitamrita, Srila Kaviraja Goswami, the symptoms of unalloyed devotion are as follows: One should have no desire other than a determination to make progress in the devotion of Godhead. There should be no desire to worship the Impersonal feature of Godhead such as “Brahman” or “Paramatma” or any other feature of the lord in his empowered capacities of demigods. There can be no endeavor for gaining neither for knowledge nor for working for the sake of fruitive results. Freed from all these, when one maintains his livelihood according to simple means and exclusively lives for the culture of transcendental service of Godhead with heart and soul-it is called pure unalloyed devotion “Bhakti”.
Material lust is wrongly considered by people as love but it is satiable and dying. Opposed to Material Lust is such pure undying Bhakti.
We are aware of examples in the print media as well as the visual media of how the so called love affairs turned bitter and led to porce because of satiation of physical lust. Love of godhead is spiritual and never satiated. Rather such unalloyed unconditional love of God increases the eagerness to serve God without cessation. There could be rather critical tests in life of a devotee and he has to safeguard and apply the principles rightly to distinguish acts of material lust and service rendered in spiritual love.
By attaining the transcendental love of God, one is satiated of all material desires and becomes immortal. Imperfect, insufficient and mortal methods can never aid one get real satisfaction, perfection or immortality. Absolute truth cannot be obtained by experiment. He is achieved by Absolute method which yields absolute perfection, satisfaction and immortality. The apt example in such case is Dhruva Maharaj. He started his austerity with intent to have some material gain but when he saw the Supreme Personality of Godhead he was completely satisfied of all his unwanted hankerings. Hence he declined to accept any reward offered to him by the Supreme lord. He deducted that nothing could compare to the Absolute form of Supreme personality present before him. This would not be attainable by yogis of yore by their great penances. He liked his achievement to that of attaining a jewel of immeasurable value while his intention was to get some broken pieces of glass. Thus by attaining the Absolute truth all other longing will vanish, save and except the desire to have Absolute only. The only method to enable people to such consciousness of spontaneous love of Godhead is to bring them to the platform of Bhakti.
By attaining loving service of Godhead or Bhakti, the devotee-
(1) Does not long for any other engagement.
(2) Does not fear from anybody or anything.
(3) Does not envy anybody.
(4) Does not engage in sensual enjoyment.
(5) Does not hanker for ordinary material achievements.
There is no other engagement of any kind for a pure devotee of the personality of Godhead for he has dedicated himself completely to the service of the Supreme Lord. His work and results of attainment, gain or loss are never to be categorized as his own but they come under the work and results of supreme lord. A fruitive person enjoying the sensual pleasures of this world and the devotee who has dedicated his mind, body and words but apparently suffering because devoid of all such pleasures are not to be compared from material dimension. Any activity of a devotee is meant to please the supreme lord and for that he maintains his life. Any activity done by him to keep his body and soul together is ultimately to engage himself in the service of the lord. The supreme Lord compensates such sincere devotees sufficiently and protects his devotees from great dangers. The Supreme Lord declares his mission in the Bhagavad gita as follows:
Ananyas chintayanto mam yo jana paryupasate.
Tesam nitya abiyuktanam yogakshemam vahami aham.
The supreme lord is pleased to maintain his pure devotee as we see the example of an ordinary man taking pleasure to maintain his family even at his personal sacrifice. The devotee is never anxious of his personal protection for he knows the supreme lord out of his own accord takes care of the necessities of his pure devotees and provides whatever is necessary for practice of devotional service. Externally we may see that the activities of the devotee are as same as the activities of an ordinary man, but there is vast difference between the two. The devotee acts based on the inspiration of the Supreme lord for the pleasure of the supreme whereas the ordinary man acts to satisfy himself or his extended-self such as family, society, nation etc.
The grace of the supreme lord inspires the pure devotee to serve the supreme lord and he approaches the supreme destination but an ordinary worker however talented or powerful is suffering or enjoying his own activities. All such personal endeavors which are of are futile and bind him more to the modes of nature.