Bhaktha Dhruva

Bhakti Yoga

Bhakti Yoga or union of the Atma and Paramatma through devotion has been practised and preached by Gurus and pupils down the centuries. Unlike Karma yoga and Jnana yoga where a certain prerequisite knowledge of Self and Non Self is required, bhakti yoga can be practised by all irrespective of caste, creed, gender, education, age, status or level of enlightenment. History has shown us that illiteracy was no bar as exemplified by  Kabir, Tukaram and the Gopis of Brindavan, neither is age a barrier – Dhruva or Prahlad being an example, neither is belonging to a lower class like Kanakadasa, Nammalvar, Bhadrachala Ramdas nor having a previous criminal record like Valmiki, Ajamila, Bilvamangala. None of these act as any deterrent to attainment of the Lord. Jatayu and Gajendra were not even human beings and Mirabai and Andal were women. Thus the path of bhakti is truly universal and open to all saints and sinners alike.

There are two types of Bhakti, Para bhakti and Apara Bhakti. Para bhakti is devotion to the formless Brahman while Apara Bhakti is devotion to a Being with name and form. Thus Para bhakti is more difficult of the two. But for majority of human beings Apara bhakti is the path to salvation.

The scriptures show us that there are different attitudes to the path of devotion to approach God. Some have approached God when in trouble like Draupadi and Gajendra. They come under the ‘Arta’. Some are the ‘Jignasu’ type who are eager for knowledge like Janaka and Uddhava yet others are the’ Artharthi ‘ types who propitiate God to get his help in solving some particular difficulty or crave for either wealth, progeny or fame like Vibhishana and Sugriva. The fourth type is desireless devotion or Nishkama bhakti like Narada, Prahlad and the Gopis of Brindavan. But no matter what type, it’s ultimate outcome is everlasting communion with God.

Tulsidas the great poet and devotee of Lord Rama says that Jnana, vairagya and yoga are all masculine in conception(according to the grammar of the Hindi language) so they cannot succeed over the tangles of maya which is considered feminine whereas bhakti being feminine does not succumb easily to her charms!

There are three stages of Bhakti through which one has to rise. The first is Bahya Bhakti or external adoration. Worship of God in temples, symbols and sacred books are all examples of Bahya Bhakti. Festivals, pilgrimages and rituals are also included in this stage of devotion.

The second stage of bhakti is Ananya bhakti, the exclusive worship of one’s own Lord or Ishta Devta chosen in one’s heart. This intense devotion purifies the heart of the devotee, dissolves his sins and accelerates his spiritual progress. An example of this is Tulsidas whose passionate devotion for Lord Rama led to the writing of the great epic Ram Charita Manas.

The third stage of bhakti is Ekanta bhakti, the purest and highest level of devotion to God. Here the devotee loves God for his own sake. He not only feels Him in his own heart but also feels Him in the heart of all beings. The devotee does not care for class, caste or creed but sees Him in all and all in Him. The Gopis of Brindavan are a classic example of this type of Bhakti.

The nine expressions of devotion or Nava Vidha Bhakti according to the Shrimad Bhagvat are-

1, Sravanam-Listening to the glories of the Lord like King Parikshit

2. Keerthanam- Reciting the names of the Lord like Narada, Chaitanya,  Thyagaraja.

3. Smaranam-Recalling Him and His deeds like Saint Shuka.

4. Padasevanam-Waiting on Him like Lakshmana

5. Archanam- Worshipping Him like King Ambareesha.

6. Vandanam- Saluting Him like Akrura and Uddhava,

7. Dasyam- Serving Him like Hanuman and Garuda.

8. Sakhyam-Befriending him like Arjuna and Sugriva.

9. Atmanivedanam-Dedicating one’s whole life to Him like King Bali.

The Story Of Dhruva


The story of Dhruva embodies the power of the holy name and is one of perseverance, courage and inspiration. His initial prayer to Lord Vishnu was for fulfilling his material desire but in the end his devotion destroyed his desire. Even after thousands of years his devotion continues to inspire generations to walk the path of bhakti.


King Uttanapada was the son of Svayambhuva Manu. He had 2 wives Suniti and Suruchi. Queen Suniti had a son named Dhruva and Queen Suruchi had a son named Uttama.


Queen Suruchi was the King’s favourite queen and the King thus loved Uttama more than Dhruva. Once when Uttama was sitting on his father’s lap, Dhruva too tried to ask his father to allow him to do the same. But the Queen Suruchi spoke harsh words to him and told him that he did not deserve to sit on the lap of his father nor rule the kingdom as he had not taken birth in her womb so was not qualified to sit on his father’s lap. She further mocked him and told him to redeem himself by seeking Vishnu’s blessings.

The child Dhruva who was five years old at this time was deeply pained, even more so, when he saw that his father was silent and did not take offence to the harsh words. He went to his mother for solace and she consoled the distraught child by advising him to take Queen Suruchi’s words seriously and to observe penance.


The very name Suniti means ‘embodiment of virtue or niti’. Thus she preached moral values to her son. She told him that she was helpless and God alone was the refuge of all human beings and he alone could fulfil the desires of all. She placed her hand on his head and advised him to go to the forest and seek the Lord with one pointed devotion.


Dhruva accepted his mother’s words and left for the forest. Sage Narada divined Dhruva’s intentions and came to meet him. But when he expressed doubts due to Dhruva’s tender age, Dhruva told him not to worry and reassured him that with his mother’s blessings and his own determination, he would definitely succeed in his goal. Narada tried to advise him on the perils of forest life with its wild beasts, serpents etc and told Dhruva that as he was used to royal comforts it would be very difficult for him to succeed but Dhruva was undeterred. He said that since his goal was a pure one God would definitely help him and he would succeed.

Narada’s heart melted at the steadfast determination of the young boy and he instructed the boy to chant the name of the Lord with a pure heart and mind. He whispered in his ear the great Dvaadasi (twelve syllable) mantra Om Namo Bhagavathe Vaasudevaaya.


After Narada left, Dhruva went deep into the forest, found a shady part, fixed his seat and began chanting the mantra without interruption. It is said that initially whenever he felt hungry and thirsty he ate fruits fallen on the ground. Later he ate only tubers and leaves. After that, he subsisted only on water and finally he lived only on air.

The five sheaths of the human body

There are five sheaths in the human body-

1. Annamaya Kosha- sheath of food

2. Pranamaya Kosha-sheath of life

3. Manomaya Kosha- sheath of mind

4. Vijnaanamaya Kosha-sheath of knowledge

5. Anandamaya Kosha-sheath of bliss

Dhruva neglected only the Annamaya kosha. With his pranamaya kosha he inhaled and exhaled the name of the Lord’ Om Namo Bhagavathe Vaasudevaaya’. He clearly pictured in his mind the form of the Lord as described by Narada with his Manomaya kosha which was imprinted in his heart. Thus Nama-Rupa(Name and Form), reciting the name while picturing the form –this became Dhruva’s penance.


As a result of Dhruva’s steadfast prayers the whole forest began to get heated. The sages and saints who lived there could not bear the heat of his prayer vibrations. They were astonished when they discovered that the vibrations were emanating due to the prayers and mind control of a mere five year old boy. It is said that the sages tried to distract him by sending wild animals and evil spirits to trouble him. But nothing could disturb him nor harm him. Dhruva had the faith that since God was the sole protector of all beings, he would look after and protect him. Such was the depth of his faith. When nothing could distract him, the Gods in heaven started getting desperate. They went to Lord Vishnu(Narayana) for succour.

Although Dhruva began his prayers with a desire to win his father’s affection, as his prayers progressed he lost all material desires. He realised that as the body was composed of five elements it was perishable but the Indweller has neither birth nor death.

Appearance of the Lord

As time progressed he became weaker and his voice was no longer audible but he continued to repeat the name in his mind. Finally the Lord’s heart melted at his Bhakta’s cry and He appeared before him.

As the Lord appeared closer and closer to Dhruva it is said that the body of Dhruva shone with effulgence. Dhruva at last opened his eyes and overcome by his love for the Lord fell at his feet. His voice returned by the Lord’s grace and he began extolling the Lord and singing his praises.

Finally the Lord asked what his heart’s desire was but Dhruva no longer had any desire for the material world. He said that all he wanted was the Lord and nothing more. It is said that Dhruva wished for a drop of water but found Divine Nectar itself, he wished for a piece of glass but got a diamond instead.

Divine Benediction

The Lord in His Divine Mercy told Dhruva that it was his duty to go back to his kingdom and rule it wisely and after his period of rule the Lord promised him that he would secure liberation and merge with the Lord.

Dhruva bowed to the Lord and returned to the kingdom. His father and step mother were filled with remorse and embraced him asking for his pardon. King Uttanapada crowned him King and along with his queens left to spend the rest of his life in solitude and meditation. Dhruva ruled wisely for many years and waited patiently for his merger with the Lord. Finally the Lord said that he would become the Pole star or the Dhruv Nakshatra in the sky living forever and reminding mankind of his glory and love for the Lord.


This was the power of bhakti as exemplified by Dhruva. The meaning of the word Bhakti is Bhagvad Anurakti or attachment to God. Thus Dhruva went beyond the first four koshas to reach the Anandamaya kosha and achieve supreme bliss and went on to show mankind that with steadfast faith and determination, one could reach the lofty heights of becoming One with the Lord.


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