In Hinduism, there are three margas (paths) through which a person can attain moksha. The first path is jnana-marga. Jnana can be translated as awareness or insight. One begins to detach him or herself from worldly statuses and possessions, he or she can begin to move towards moksha through jnana-marga. This involves meditation, which was followed by several rishis several centuries ago. In the recent past, by Gurus like Maha Periyaval, Ramana Maharishi and others. Understandably, this is the most difficult marga to take.
The second path is karma-marga, which entails faithful participation in ritual sacrifices that are often dictated and presided over by a Brahmin (priest). Again, this is a very difficult marga, as it involves several complex fine procedures to follow. Agni (Fire) is the only median, by which God accepts our offerings. However our offerings do not reach God, when the timing and procedure is imperfect. Despite all this, we do perform simple homams with the belief that our priest does his duties well and our offerings reach God.
The third path is bhakti-marga. Bhakti refers to a selfless devotion and commitment to a personal deity. This is the direct link between you and the God. You believe in God and that belief should be blind. No matter what happens, you believe that God drives you and that is for a reason. You don’t have to go to temple every day for Bakthi. You can follow Bakthi marga where ever you are and what ever you do. Daily prayers, chanting God’s name when ever you can and where ever you can are a few of the ways in that manthra.
Most of the Nayanmaars have followed Bakthi Maarga and attained moksha. Let’s take Thiru Neelakantar. He always chanted “Thiru Neelakantam” through out his life. Even in his most difficult period in his life. Finally he attained what he wanted to achieve, his ultimate goal which is dharshan of Lord Shiva and attained the feet of Lord Shiva. So as Aandal, whose only objective was to marry Perumal. She followed Bhakthi marga and attained what she wanted to achieve.
I don’t believe that we will have similar level of Bhakthi or determination like Nayanmars or Alwars, however, one basic concept remains that chanting the Lord’s name is one form Bhakthi. Naming our children after one of our favourite God; Calling them by the same name is one of the ways of chanting God’s name. Greetings is another way. Let’s substitute “Hello” with “Thiruchitrambalam”, “Arunachalam”, “Ram Ram”, “Radhe Krishna” and what ever is our favourite God’s name. I know this can’t be achieved when talking to foreigners and in a professional world, but it can be easily practiced when speaking with your friends and family.
By practicing this, you can achieve several benefits, the primary being practicing Bakthi marga. You create opportunities for chanting and remembering God. You always spread positive vibes among people around you; Maintain good relationship; Mind is always alert and hence reduce gossips; Develop confidence; Even if the friend on the other side of the phone is in one of his crappiest moods, this is likely to reduce the level of crappyness which only helps in developing meaningful conversations and many more.
Let’s change our greetings for a better living.