ONCE an abhyasi wrote to Master: ‘Let me first ‘see God and then I shall start Puja.’ Master replied: “You want to bring in your experience, that which is the end of your activity. It is just like a boy desiring to understand Shakespeare and Milton first and then to start learning a, b, c, d. If the very object which is being sought stands before you, then how can anyone dare ask you to worship?”
This clearly shows that Puja is after all a means to achieve some end. If the end or the Goal is achieved then there is an end to all Puja. It is only when the Goal is lost sight of, the means assume an elaborate form and a rigid one too. This is the reason why there are innumerable divergent and complicated mechanical forms of worship.
Having decided upon the aim, namely realising one‘s oneness with God, and to abide permanently in Him, the means to achieve it must be found out. Again, the difficulty about the conception of God has to be solved. There are many definitions of God: God with qualities, God without qualities, God with form, God without form, God manifest, God transcendental, God finite, God infinite, and so on. If one’s mind is allowed to play with these conceptions, it is bound to make a mess of all these. So, in order to have the correct conception, the help of a worthy guide who has traversed the entire distance should be taken. The worthy Master, if He has the Power of Transmission at His command, will infuse the subtle idea of God in the subtlest way, and the mind. if it is thirsty, firmly catches hold of the idea in its own subtle way. The result is a sort of satisfaction, nay, a kind of feeling of having found a firm footing, nay, not even this, but it is even the realisation of its secret longing. Lo! the beginning is made with the very end.
Now, comes Puja. A question may be asked as to why at all Puja should be done when the Goal is attained at the very beginning by Master’s Grace. The reply is that the Goal so realised is still occult, secret, subtle, or at the most it is a momentary flash in the abyss of ignorance and darkness. No doubt, the inner-most core of the heart is lit up but it has to be cautiously and constantly fanned so that an integral and complete transformation may be effected.
This fanning operation is puja, worship, abhyas or practice. Just as it has been seen that the Goal is so easily achieved in so subtle a manner, naturally, the practice also, likewise, should be easy and simple. It is a matter of common experience, and abhyasis know it quite well that the practice, if consciously and conscientiously done, goes on becoming subtler and subtler day-byday, especially when it is aided by the transmitting power of the Guide.
In the System of Sahaj Marg, a subtle link between an abhyasi and God is established from the very start. And the practice consists in trying to strengthen the link thus established. The thought is the dominant, nay the main factor in this practice. It is even so in every practice. The thought is made to dwell more and more often on the pious idea infused by Master until it becomes a living experience for ever. This is the whole technique of Puja.
Love and attachment to Master accelerates the practice. This love increases rapidly if one takes the bhava (attitude) of any relationship known to human beings such as lover and beloved, child and mother, or servant and Master. One may decide upon his bhava to be taken up according to his own taste. If the bhava of true relationship between man and God is taken up, the problem is solved immediately. But man is not normally aware of the true relationship. Hence, it is advisable to take up that bhava which is an image or a close replica of the real thing. Some of the great acharyas have advocated, and correctly too, the bhava of a slave and a Master. This is almost the very relation, which actually exists between Man and God. Now. it depends upon His Grace to allow us to take liberties with Him, as He generally allows.