Meaning of Dasya Bhakti

According to Swamy Shivananda, Dasya Bhakti is “to serve God and carry out His wishes, realizing His virtues, nature, mystery and glory, considering oneself as a servant of God, the Supreme Master”.

Dasya is a form of bhakti wherein, the bhakta considers himself as a servant or a slave of the Lord. Dasya bhakti includes serving and worshipping the images or idols of the Lord, cleaning or sweeping the temples, serving Gurus or saints, serving the needy and devotees of God with an attitude of servitude or as a slave serving his master (here the Lord Himself). To lead the life as mentioned in the scriptures, Upanishads also exhort Dasya Bhakti.

Essence of Dasya Bhakti

To consider oneself as a slave of the Lord requires an attitude of humility to the Lord.  Humility can be developed only when the ego or the “I” is decimated. Humility will bring about an attitude of total surrender in a bhakta. Total surrender is the ideal of Dasya Bhakti, as the bhakta has nothing to lose by giving up everything for the Lord and has only to gain everything by serving God or his various forms. Total surrender leads to reaching the ultimate goal, Self Realization.

How to cultivate Dasya Bhakti?

Swamy Chinmayananda opines that, Dasya bhakti can be inculcated even when one is engaged in discharging one’s day to day material responsibilities. Actions performed with a spirit of devotion and complete surrender to the Lord, will efface the sense of doer ship and bring about the attitude of dasya in a bhakta. Work performed without attachment and with an attitude of offering to the Lord does not create bondage. Actions performed without bondage leads to Liberation, the ultimate goal. This is also the essence of Karma Yoga as given in Bhagavad Gita.

Dasya Bhakti requires a bhakta to constantly think of the Lord, even while discharging material duties. Constant thinking of the Lord makes one’s mind calm. Such a mind will get established in God Consciousness. The craving for external objects gets reduced. The bhakta will be able to enjoy the divine grace within. His heart gets purified with the devotion for Lord and His creations. His speech, actions and thoughts all get directed in serving his Master- God.

Hanuman, Lakshmana and Angada cultivated the attitude of Dasya Bhakti to Lord Sri Rama. Only when bhakti is deep rooted in an individual, Dasya bhakti can be developed.

Benefits of Dasya Bhakti

When one sincerely serves the Lord, the divine energy within will make the bhakta do things which were earlier considered impossible. There is a renewed energy and rigour with which things are done. As one progresses spiritually, he sees only God around him. The trees, ocean, birds, animals etc all appear as God in different forms.

Nature of action and its types

Action is part of existence and all actions produce some results. Human beings seek a sense of joy or fulfilment out of their actions and results. The nature of actions performed is classified into three types:

  1. Unproductive
  2. Productive
  3. Inspired
  1. Unproductive: Unproductive actions are those which do not produce any substantial results. Most of the actions in which a man is engaged in, such as watching TV, chatting over phone etc on a day to day basis do not produce any substantial or long term result, other than momentary gratification. Initially engaging in such activities may be interesting but in the long run, it does not serve any purpose.
  1. Productive: Actions which bring about a sense of joy or fulfilment is termed as productive. Such actions are termed as work. A particular action which is well planned and executed with the objective of meeting a specific purpose or goal is work.  All actions performed at home, office or society constitutes work, as it brings about a sense of achievement and fulfilment of certain desires and helps lead life. Work when it becomes routine leads to boredom. To overcome boredom, man indulges in unproductive work. Work without inspiration becomes “labour”. Labour is always painful, drudgery, tiring and never fulfilling. Thus it is common to see a labourer ever discontent with the fruits of his action or “labour”.
  1. Inspiration: Any work that is performed with a liking or with love/devotion will become an inspiration. As the work is an inspiration by itself, the doer is not keen on the outcome of his action. Actions are performed for the sheer sense of joy rather than the outcome. However, the outcome of an action performed with devotion is bound to be exemplary and bring success. Such actions will fill the doer with a sense of joy and fulfilment.

How to transform work into inspiration?

Work done without love/devotion will only become drudgery. When the same work is done selflessly for the benefit of others, it becomes an inspiration. Work can be selfless, only when the ego is dissolved. Once the ego gets dissolved, the heart becomes pure and gets filled with the love/devotion for the Almighty. Actions performed with joy are not only inspiring but also fulfilling. One of the highest form of seva is service to mankind; helping others in any way one can selflessly. Thus any work done with inspiration is an expression of love to God. Such work is known as Seva or Service.

Swamy Chinmayananda says “Everyone with knowledge exerts, sweats and toils. But only a few succeed in life. They generally forget that the mind is the “doer” in us and the body is but our tool. Learn to bring your mind to where your hands are working and see the results. Actions become excellent, and success is the tribute life pays to excellence. Such Seva not only enriches the doer materially and spiritually, but also benefits everyone around”. In B.Gita it is said “That alone is living by which many others live”. This is also known as the Yagna spirit in B.Gita or the spirit of sharing. The entire Universe is but an expression of giving/ sharing, be it the ocean, the Sun, the earth, the trees etc.  

Examples of Dasya Bhakti

Story of Jatayu

Jatayu, the king of the mighty vultures and an ardent devotee of Lord Sri Rama lived in Dandaka forest. He lived for over hundreds of years. With age, Jatayu had become weak and blind, but was still a mighty vulture. Once, he heard the cries of a woman and the haughty laughter of a man. He at once recognised the voice to be that of Sita Mata, and the wicked Ravana. He knew that Ravana was speeding through the air with Sita Mata on a chariot. His immediate thoughts were to rescue Sita Mata from the clutches of Ravana. Though old and fragile, Jatayu fought a fierce battle with Ravana in the air, with his sharp talons and beak as hard as iron. Ravana was taken by surprise to find such a formidable adversary in the old vulture. Ravana realising that Jatayu was blind, cut one its wings, sending the vulture crashing down. Jatayu wreathing in pain, holding on to his life, cried out aloud “Rama, Rama”. His mind was occupied with the thought of Lord Rama. He wanted to perform his last duty; to inform his beloved Sri Rama about the incident and thus help Sri Rama locate Sita Mata. The despairing Rama, while searching for Sita, heard His name being called out. On following the sound, he found Jatayu lying on the floor, wreathing in pain. Jatayu then narrated the entire incident to Sri Rama on which Sri Rama declared “Sri Jatayu is the eternal embodiment of bravery demonstrated by My loyal servants”. In his last moments, Jatayu was filled with a sense of fulfilment of discharging his duty towards his beloved Lord, Sri Rama.

Jatayu’s story is an example of the Seva bhava of a bhakta towards his beloved Lord. Jatayu was selfless; though suffering from pain, had only one thing on his mind, to inform Sri Rama and help Him locate Sita Mata. Though fully aware of Ravana’s might and his own weakness, or his imminent death in the battle, his sole intention was to serve his Master- Sri Rama. He was completely immersed in the thought of serving his Lord against all odds. It is this devotion to his Master that earned him the Lord’s blessings.

Dasya Bhakti of Sri Hanuman

Dasya Bhakti is incomplete without a mention of Sri Hanuman’s bhakti to Sri Rama. Hanuman had a seva bhava, completely selfless in his service to Lord Rama and was a Karma Yogi. Once when Lord Rama asked Hanuman, “How do you think of me”?   Hanuman replied saying “O Lord, while I identify myself with the body I am, Thy servant. When I consider myself an individual soul, I am thy part, but when I look upon myself as thy spirit, I am one with thee. This is my firm conviction”. In the Dhyana shloka of Ramayana, it is said that “wherever Ramayana is being recited, there the great Maruti, who is the destroyer of rakshasas, sits listening humbly with folded hands and with eyes overflowing with tears of joy.” Thus Ramabhakti and consequential peace and joy can be enjoyed by worshipping Lord Hanuman.

When Ravana asked Hanuman who he was, Hanuman immediately replied “Dasoham Kosalendrasya- meaning, “I am Sri Ramachandra’s servant”. There is no better ideal than Hanuman who always considered himself as the eternal servant of Sri Rama. He says ”My dear Lord, if You like, You can give me salvation from this material existence, or the privilege of merging into Your existence, but I do not wish any of these things. I do not want anything which diminishes my relationship with You as servant to master even after liberation”.