If we consider Arjun as a bhakta, then we can easily understand what bhakti is all about. What do we think of Lord Krishna’s instructions to Arjun in Bhagavad-Geeta ? Do they contribute to bhakti, or are they something else ? If the answers to these questions are in the affirmative, then the verse from Geeta quoted herein shall help us understand the meaning of bhakti.
In the second chapter, verse 50, Lord Krishna states, “yoga is skill in actions”. What action is the Lord referring to ? Arjun was opting to leave the battle-field and take up the occupation of begging. What did the Lord tell him persuasively ? “Get up with firm resolve to fight” (2.37). “For you, doing battle is the right choice” (2.33).
Now let us extend this logic to a common man. Every one is placed in a particular situation with different duties. Moreover, each person has his or her own individual nature. How can he or she become a bhakta ? If we accept that God is our father and we are all part of His family, then an example of a family will clarify the concept of bhakti.
What are different members of a family supposed to do ? What would please the head of a house-hold the most ? That he does his personal duties well in a good-natured way while, at the same time, contributing to the family welfare as far as possible. When we accept this, we are on the way to understand the meaning of bhakti.
Another example, that of a company, shall help further clarify the concept of bhakti. What does the boss of a company expect from his employees ? Who gets promoted ? Obviously, those who carry out their respective duties given to them according the their particular abilities.
Let us imagine that we are part of a large company with God as the boss. How does one get promotion or liberation ? Obviously, by pleasing God by doing our respective duties perfectly, willingly and good-naturedly. The accountant does not have to become a manager to please the boss ; he only needs to do the job of accounting as best as possible. Lord Krishna states this fact quite forcefully by mentioning the same in two verses (3.35 and 18.47). We do not have to change our profession, if it is bonafide.
Bhakti is not about escaping one’s responsibilities and Arjun was told not to do so. Escaping from prescribed duties and opting for sanyas as a escape route was not permissible for Arjun. In fact , this path is not allowable for any of us either. Bhakti does not necessarily warrant taking sannyas.
Is bhakti limited to this alone ? No, we need to know more, that is, what God expects us to do, since His pleasure is crucial in obtaining liberation. And, His pleasure is possible by following His instructions, as contained in bonafide scriptures, like Bhagavad-Geeta. “I shall award you liberation if you surrender to My instructions” ( 18.66).
We are never expected to act whimsically, just as any employee of a company is not allowed to do ; every one must confirm to the rules and regulations clearly laid out. Neither do we need to copy anyone else, nor force someone else to change to our way of thinking ; all must confirm to the scriptural injunctions as applicable to their own natures. After all, the divisions according to the nature of work and one’s nature are everywhere, created by God (4.13).
Even kings were greatest bhaktas, like king Janak cited by Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad-Geeta (3.20). One is required to do his or her particular duty, always remembering what God expects one to do (8.7).
Bhakti is not as mysterious as it is made out to be. If one is gaining real peace, security and happiness and looks forward to the future both in the present life and beyond, he or she can be classified as a good bhakta.