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Pad means Bhagwan’s lotus-feet. Padseva bhakti means to offer devotional service – seva – to Bhagwan and the God-realized guru, (Svetashvatara Upanishad 6.23).
Shri Krishna also advocates seva bhakti in the Gita (4.34).
In the Vachanamrut, Bhagwan Swaminarayan extols the importance of seva of Bhagwan and his realized Sadhu: it eradicates swabhavs and vasana (Gadhada II 7, II 25), it leads to moksha (Gadhada II 28, II 40), it bestows strength to subdue the indriyas and antahkaran (Gadhada II 63), it helps one to attain bhakti with an understanding of the mahatmya (glory and greatness) of Bhagwan (Vartal 3), it enables the jiva become a supreme bhakta (Vartal 5) and it earns Bhagwan’s grace (Gadhada II 28).
The ritual of physical seva in a mandir includes housekeeping, maintenance, serving pilgrims and devotees, making garlands, cooking, gardening and farming. Besides physical seva, a special form of mental seva is to regard God, the guru and devotees as divine and to develop an attitude of looking only at their virtues – gunas.


Archan bhakti means to offer puja – worship with physical materials such as kumkum, chandan, flowers, leaves such as tulsi and bili, and fragrant water. Shodshopchar puja involves worship in 16 ways. The most important requisite for archan bhakti is to believe that Bhagwan resides in the murtis and in the Aksharbrahma guru (Vachanamrut Gadhada I 68).


Vandan means to humbly offer pranams and to prostrate to Bhagwan and the guru. Male devotees offer dandvat pranams and females offer panchang pranams. Such bhakti demands utter humility by eradicating one’s ego. This bhakti also forms the basis of dasyam bhakti.


Das means servant – sevak. Dasya bhakti means to surrender one’s ego and karmas to Bhagwan and guru and offer humble devotion with total sharanagati – surrenderance as his servant and also as the servant of his servant – das na das. Bhagwan Swaminarayan lauds the glory and benefits of dasya bhakti: all evil instincts are eradicated and the jiva attains virtues of jnan, vairagya and bhakti (Gadhada I 58) and becomes a true bhakta in this very life (Gadhada II 62).
Practical rituals of dasya bhakti include humbly cleaning the mandir and serving devotees and pilgrims.


Sakhya means friend. Sakhya bhakti means to have unflinching faith in Bhagwan and offer him bhakti as a true friend. Arjun offered such bhakti to Shri Krishna. Brahmanand Swami offered such bhakti to Bhagwan Swaminarayan.


Atmanivedanam means to devotionally surrender one’s body, mind and atma to Bhagwan. Atmanivedanam bhakti means to devotionally surrender oneself and one’s family and wealth to Bhagwan. Eminent devotees in the past who offered such bhakti include Prahlad, King Ambrish, King Rantidev, King Bali, the gopis, Draupadi, Kunti and Uddhavji. During Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s time, such devotees included Dada Khachar, Ladudan Barot (who later became Brahmanand Swami), and Anandanand Swami (from Ayodhya) and Swayamprakashanand Swami (from Bengal), who both renounced their muths and followers to join Bhagwan Swaminarayan.
With today’s fast-paced living styles, stress additionally induced by electronic media and information overload, it is not surprising that people easilylose their mental and spiritual balance. One then wonders how to regain spiritual strength and re-orientate oneself. In Vachanamrut Gadhada II 63, Bhagwan Swaminarayan reveals the answer: one who has love for Bhagwan and his sadhu and serves them with intense shraddha (faith) along with navdha bhakti will attain instant strength, even greater than imbibing atmanishtha. Hence, rituals of navdha bhakti, if practised in one’s daily life, will act as de-stressors and positively invigorate one’s being.
Of all the bhakti rituals, the one most important and key ritual for moksha is katha. Why? Through katha one is able to eradicate swabhavs, become nirvasanic, attain redemptive attributes and realize Bhagwan’s true form.
In the next article we shall discuss home rituals.

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