Devotion: Letters to Initiates 7 – Archana

by | 19 Dec, 2023

The fourth limb of Bhakti Yoga is Archana. This means practicing various forms of worship.

Worship of the Divine can be internal or external. Most of the worship we witness in the world is external. Things like the Catholic Mass, or puja, sacraments and ceremonies are examples of external worship. Offerings are made, and by offering them to the Divine, the Divine wakes up in the food, wine, bread, fruit, or whatever else is offered depending on your tradition. When we consume the water or food, those who have any sensitivity to energy will feel shivers of Divine energy going through them, sometimes brilliant light within the mind, and a general feeling of bliss.

Archana includes any service to the Divine, and in this tradition that includes whatever we do to help the poor. Charity work is Archana. Archana also entails providing help and service to spiritually evolved beings, particularly our own Guru or Holy teacher. Through the giving of such service, karmic knots untie themselves and one’s consciousness and spiritual heart expand.

It is considered worship of the Divine to take care of an ashram or church. This is a high form of service, as the energy in holy places permeates us just by being there, even if we are not focussed upon the Divine. It is also helping the Guru and all of the people who attend. A very efficient means of acquiring grace!

I remember a few years ago at our Cooranbong ashram, we had a program in place where we accepted people who had been in the justice system and had to do community service in lieu of going to prison. One young man had been quite a cranky person when he first came to us. After a few weeks, his demeanour changed entirely. After some time he completed his hours. Then, he had an argument with his mother. She said: go back to that place you were doing service; you were so much nicer when you helped out there! He did, and he was. His consciousness was lifted by simply being in the space where so many sacred ceremonies and teachings, kirtan and mantra were performed day in, day out. He didn’t even attend any of those events; he just weeded the garden. Archana is that powerful.

People consider it a boon to be able to do any form of helping out at a temple or ashram. Whether it is cleaning, watering the garden or welcoming guests; anything that is service is worship in this context.

Internal worship is also practiced. This is when we might address the Divine and offer ourselves into Divine service. We might ask to be pure channels of Divine light, love and power to do good. One could say that there is a sense of the Divine within, which we love and wish to serve. This inner worship helps to elevate our consciousness and directs us to humbly offer what we have to affect the common good.

These are great and wonderful mysteries, but they are not part of our current mainstream western culture. What a shame!  When more people are able to really experience Archana and the devotion that comes through, our collective consciousness will take a quantum leap forward.



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