WHEN THE HEART CRIES FOR GOD
You are all acquainted with the Hindu doctrine and, for that matter, the devotional doctrine of every religion that there are two different phases of devotion to God. One has been called vaidhi bhakti, or formal devotion, and the other has been called prema bhakti or raganuga bhakti, devotion proceeding from true love of God. You know how a mother longs for her child when the child is away. You do not have to tell her that it is her duty to long for the absent child; it is a spontaneous feeling. She cannot pay attention to anything else, or if she does other things, underlying all her activities there is this pervasive longing of the heart; all the time she thinks of the child. In the same way a state comes to a seeker of God, one who has not as yet realized Him, when his whole soul runs towards Him. Even if he does other things, behind all those activities there is only a fragment of his mind; the rest is continually reaching towards God, wanting to find Him, to embrace Him.
This is the second kind of devotion.
The first kind has been called formal devotion because unless certain forms are observed by the devotee, he finds that whatever love he might have felt for God evaporates, disappears from his heart. I should not, however, give you the idea that from beginning to end this kind of devotion is just a matter of form with no sincerity or feeling; there has to be feeling, real feeling, behind it. It is called formal’ only as compared with the second kind of devotion, which is spontaneous.