Guruji, I want to develop bhakti. How can I do it? Even though I pray regularly, I am doing it mechanically, not out of complete devotion. Please guide me.

The very fact that you have asked this question shows that you hold God in reverence, and that you have the necessary bhakti – yearning for God. However, it appears that you are dis-satisfied with your level of bhakti. Perhaps you have developed the habit of comparing your bhakti with that of others. Perhaps somebody has told you that you do not have the required bhakti. Do not worry at all. Each one is on a unique pathway towards God and God-realisation. Each human being is different. So long as you are aspiring for God, do not worry about the level of your bhakti. Cultivate the habit of being loving and compassionate towards all. Do not find faults with others, never criticise or hurt others. Always be smiling and generous and remember that God resides in every being, including yourself. Be grateful for this human life that has been given to us. Serve everyone with love and affection, without any expectation. Surrender yourself to the will of God. Pray to God to give you the strength to tackle every situation in life. Often you will find that our prayers to God contain a list of our desires. When this happens, our prayers act like a commercial deal with God. Resist this. Just pray to God – without demanding anything from God. If you do so, you are in effect surrendering yourself to the will of God.

In order to be immersed in God-consciousness, dedicate every action of yours to God. Whether you are eating, working, sleeping etc., dedicate each action to God or your ishta-devata. Develop the habit of waking up during Brahma muhurtha -around 3.30 a.m. or 4 a.m. This is the time when the entire atmosphere is filled with purity. Utilise it efficiently to cultivate love for Brahman. Quickly finish all your ablutions and sit down with a lighted lamp before your ishta-devata. Sit in a comfortable position either on a chair or on the floor with your back straight. Do some deep breathing till you feel settled, say your usual prayers, and imagine yourself to be in a one to one interaction with God.  

If you are in the habit of meditating, you may do so with closed eyes while internally chanting the name of your ishta-devata or your favourite mantra. Do some Pranayama and Yoga which will lead you to your inner world. Continue this with discipline for at least a month. You will find yourself getting more and more God-conscious. You will note that all your thoughts are automatically directed towards God. Attend Satsangs, Kirtans, read holy scriptures like the Bhagavad Gita, Ramayana, etc., and you will definitely develop bhakti towards God

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