True devotion to God is the only agency by which man can escape the bondage of existence, and attain salvation. It imparts a rare sweetness and grace to the nature of man, it fills his heart with mercy and loving-kindness, it endows him with humility and purity, and it impels him to relieve the sufferings of the poor and the wretched even at the cost of his life. All great reformations in the world have invariably been founded on true devotion to God. It is the basis of all virtuous action; it is at the root of all Optimism and Faith.
True Bhakti involves, of course, social service, but its essence is faith, meditation, and prayer. Dayanand taught the greatness of Bhakti both by percept and by practice. He had always a most intimate sense of the presence of God in himself. Even, like legendary Dhruva and Prahlada, he renounced his all for realisation of God; and when he attained the state of emancipation, he lived day and night, like Jada-Bharata and King Janaka, in a state of intimate communion with Him. Hence it was that he was always so fearless, so detached from the world, and so entirely free from passion.
Once, when he was starting from Farrukabad to some place nearby, his friend, Seth Durgaprasad, stationed four armed men on his carriage, two in front and two in behind. Dayanand asked with smile, what fault he had committed to be guarded so carefully. The Seth replied. “Master, may wicked men of this place have been looking forward to a favorable opportunity to injure you, as they cannot bear to see your noble qualities. I have stationed this armed watch on your carriage, to frustrate the unholy intensions of these people.” The Swami calmly replied, “It is only for the last few years I have come among you, and now you are so solicitous to guard my person from danger. But I had my enemies even when I was roaming about as an Avadhuta, and yet I had none to protect me then. Who, do you think, it was that saved me from all dangers in those days?” “Then God himself was your protector.” “Well, that the same God is still with me now, and I go about absolutely fearless, as I have implicit trust in His protection, you may as well ask your servants to get down, and not trouble themselves.”
On another occasion, When Swamiji was sitting in a garden on the outskirts of Benares, his disciple, Baldev, came up to him in great excitement and said, “Master, the Mahants and Pandits of various sects that you have denounced are coming hither with a vast crowd of ruffians. I am afraid that you may suffer injury at their hands, for these goondas of Kashi will stick at nothing. If it were Farrukabad, your disciples would gather around you, and guard you from all danger; but here, alas, you are all alone!” The Swamiji calmly replied, ‘Fear not Baldev, I am not all alone, for God is with me. Why, then, should I fear? Let them all come, and we will see what happens.”
It was the firm faith of Swami Dayanand that the enterprising man would get the help of God in all good deeds. “It is the duty of every man,” he said, “to do honestly all that lies in his power, before he calls upon God to help him. Every man should earnestly pray for God’s help, for without it there can be no true understanding or performance of Dharma.”
Swamiji had implicit faith in the doctrine of Divine Grace. He believed that God can be realised only by those to whom he shown His Grace. “God is Father and Mother unto us, and we are all his children. He shows His mercy by creating even such small thing as flowers and fruits for our pleasure and use.” “The man who is truly devoted to God and implicitly obeys His commands, is ever happy, He in His mercy imparts to us all knowledge, that we may be partakers of Divine Bliss.”
Once, in a speech at chandapur, he described God’s mercy on following terms: “When a man prays to God with all his heart and all his soul, God in His mercy necessarily makes him a partaker of the Supreme Bliss. Just as, when a child cries to go to his parents at a distance, they, out of the fullness of their love, hasten to the little one and take it up in their arms, lest it should hurt itself in its struggles to go forward, even so God hastens to his faithful devotee, and takes him to His bosom, when he finds that the devotee is earnest and sincere in his endeavors to reach Him. Then he has no more pains to suffer, and may be sure of enjoying Supreme bliss forever. God is always unwearied in securing happiness to His true devotees.”
The repetitions of God’s name, and the mutterings of prayers, hold an important place in Bhakti-Marg. The sage Patanjali attaches great value to the repetition of the Pranava, the mystic syllable OM, with the contemplation of its meaning. Manu also speaks of japa as a means of securing individual happiness. In fact, almost all saints and sages have regarded the constant repetition of God’s name with contemplation of its meaning the simplest and most effective means of spiritual development.
“Always repeat His holy name,” says the Swami, in reverent contemplation of its meaning.” “He who wants to turn a Sannyasi should fast for three day, taking only milk, sleep on the bare ground, and be engaged in pranayama, in meditation, and the recitation, in a secluded place, of the Pranava.’ “He who adopts the gounna Sannyasfor the sake of knowledge should study books, seek the company of good men, practice Yog, and repeat the Pranava with his mind fixed on God.”
Swami Virjanand used to repeat the Gayatri Mantra, standing in the Ganges, Dayanand, too, used to spend long hours at Badrinath in the recitation of this mantra. He was very, particular about all wearers of the sacred thread reciting the Gayatri regularly.
Replying to a question put to him by a certain Gangaram, the swami said as follows: “The only means of conquering the sensual appetite is to stay in a lonely place, and never to witness dance and the like. Never see unworthy forms, never hear unworthy sounds and never think of unworthy objects. Live your life in accordance with the strict rules. Never delude, yourself with the idea that the craving for sensual pleasures can be completely satisfied, for it always grows with what it feeds on. Let him who wants to conquer his sense repeat the Pranava day and night. If, while reciting the mantra at night, he feels too tired, let him sleep for two hours, and then continue the recitation.”
“Let the wind (of sinful cravings) blowing tortuously (in our mind) fall far behind the forest (of oblivion): O Indra!)God of supreme power) Lord of extensive Bounty, make us worthy of reputation conferring on us the gift of beautiful and speedy means of conveyance and of rays of light (of knowledge) thousands-fold. (Rigveda 1.29.6)