Bhakti-vaśyā भक्ति-वश्या (120)

She is controlled by devotion or She is attracted by devotion.  vaśya means attraction or keeping under control. 

Śivānanda Lahari (Śivānanda Lahari is in the praise of Śiva and Saundarya Laharī is in the praise of Lalitāmbikā.  Both have one hundred verses each and composed by Ādi Śaṃkara) verse 62 refers the Divine Mother as bhakthi  janani meaning  ‘Mother thy name is devotion’ and bhaktārbhakam rakṣati meaning that She nurses the devotee as Her child.  When somebody is overwhelmed with the feeling of devotion, tears roll down his eyes, his voice gets choked and goose bumps appear.   This could be followed by a body shudder.  

The next verse of Śivānanda Lahari refers to the story of Kannappa Nāyanār (KN).  He was a great devotee of Śiva and his devotion is beyond explanation.  KN used to worship Śiva in the form of a liṇga.  KN does not know any rituals as prescribed by śāstrā-s.  He used to offer raw meat to Śiva and Śiva also gladly accepted his offerings.  One day, KN noticed blood oozing out from one of the eyes of Śiva.  KN tried to arrest the oozing by trying different methods.  But none of them worked.  Then he thought for a moment and immediately, he took one of his own eyes and placed in the place of oozing eye of Śiva.  The oozing stopped immediately.  Now, the other eye of Śiva also started oozing blood.  This time KN did not try any other methods.  He placed his big toe on the oozing eye of Śiva as a marking, as he will not be able to see anything, as he was about to remove his another eye also.  At that time, Śiva appeared before him.  Such is the type of devotion which Ādi Śaṃkara refers to in his verses.  The verse says ‘the one who follows KN, his (follower) footwear is used as kuśa grass (darbha) for the kalasa (a pot containing water with mango leaves and coconut on the top with a cluster of kuśa grass.  When mantra-s are recited, the energy of the mantras gets transmitted to the water inside the vessel.  This water is used for purification purposes and also used to purify a sādhaka and is called mantra bath.  Kuśa grass or darbha is used for all purification purposes) that is used to give a Vedic bath to Śiva”.  This is called devotion.  True devotion is nothing but sincere love. 

Those who are ignorant say that Śiva and love are different.  Those who are knowledgeable say that both Śiva and love are the same- says Tirumūlar, the great Tamil saint. Śrī Rāmakṛṣṇa Paramahaṃsa says that those who are the masters in Veda-s and śāstra-s say this is right and that is wrong.  Assuming there are defects in the ways of worship by such devotees, God will never mind the defects as He wants only sincere devotion.  He is ready to bless us, but we are not ready to get His blessings.  This is because, the path followed by us is wrong. 

Kṛṣṇa says, (Bhagavad Gīta (IX.30) “Even if the vilest sinner worships me with exclusive devotion, he should be accounted as a saint. He is positive in his belief that there is nothing like devoted worship of God,” and Kṛṣṇa proceeds to say in the next verse “that my devotee never perishes”. Kṛṣṇa says in (XI.54), “Only by undivided devotional service can I be understood as I am” says the Lord.

All the scriptures and Śrutiī-s make a clear definition of devotion.  Devotion can therefore be defined “as the subject where the feelings of ardent love blossoms within, expecting nothing in return, crossing the boundaries and limitations of all the prescribed rituals and gets transformed into an object where there is a desire to stay put with that object forever”.