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Nine Forms Of Devotion Or Bhakti Told By Sri Rama To Sabari

Goswami Tulsidas in his magnum opus, Sri Ramcharitmanas, narrates how Bhagavan Sri Rama elaborated on the nine forms of Bhakti or devotion to Sabari in the Aranya Kanda of Ramayana. The old Bhil woman Sabari had unwavering devotion for Bhagavan Sri Rama.

Bhagavan Sri Rama says to Sabari on nine forms of devotion:

Now I tell the nine forms of devotion; please listen attentively and cherish them in your mind.

The first, in order, is fellowship with the saints and the second is marked by a fondness of my stories. The third is marked by helping my devotees through service. The fourth is worshipping Bhagavan with single-minded focus.

Muttering my name (Srihari Vishnu) with unwavering faith constitutes the fifth form of adoration.

The sixth form consists in the practice of self-control and virtue while desisting from manifold activities and ever pursuing the code of conduct prescribed for the saints.

He who practices the seventh type sees the entire world embodied in me without distinction and reckons the saints as even greater than myself.

He who cultivates the eight variety of devotion remains contented with whatever he gets and never thinks of detecting the fault of others.

The ninth form of devotion demands that one should be guileless and straight in one’s dealing with everybody, and should in his heart cherish implicit faith in me without ever showing exaltation or depression.

Whoever possess any one of these nine forms of devotion – be he a man or woman or even any animate or inanimate creature – is most dear to me, O, Sabari, noble lady!

Tulsidas has deviated a little from the standard nine forms of devotion with some social or ethical objective in view.