Ashray or Sambandha ?


Ashray means to seek refuge be servile / servant.

Sambandha means to have a relationship.


What sort of relationship do you have with God ?

Is it that of an ashrit – someone who is serving God, or a sabandhi – someone who has a personal relationship with God ?


As a servant, an ashrit needs to request and obtain an order (agyna) before commencing on any work.  A servant does not dare to do any work without an express order - agyna – just incase that will upset his master – swami.  You are keen to impress and hence awaken before your master and go to sleep after He is asleep.  Your every waking moment is consumed by thoughts of how best to serve your master.  There are countless examples of people who have taken on this dasya bhav and served the Lord as his obedient servant.


As a relative, a sabandhi does things to please his relative and does not need an order (agyna) to do this.  Depending on the relationship you have with God, you will do different things to please your Thakorji.  You can have any relationship with God.  You can be parent, child, lover, friend or even an enemy !


If you are a parent, you will be loving, indulging, stern, caring, cajoling, scolding, protective, adoring etc.  Your love for God as your child will be infinite and without any expectation.  How can you expect to gain anything from a child ?  So, as a parent, your love is very open and adoring and giving.  From the moment you wake up to the moment you sleep, you are constantly thinking about the child and your total being is focused on the child – the divine child.  Nanda, Yashoda and Kunti had this vatsalya bhav.


As a child, you will totally adore the divine parent.  You may be mischievous sometimes, but you will always be looking out for the parent and the divine will be your locus mundi, always looking for parental approval.  As a child you will have total faith in the ability of your parent.  For a child, obedience is essential and so you will obey the commands and principles set out by God in the scriptures.  From the moment you awaken to the moment you go asleep, you are always playing around your parent – your divine parent. 


As a lover, you can choose to be the wife, girlfriend or adoring fan.  One is secure in her “saubhagya” of being the official wife, the other is constantly afraid to let anyone know about that same intense love and the third is fearlessly open about her adoration ! 


A wife is secure in her position.  She is fortunate enough to have social and official sanction to serve her Lord.  As a wife, your life is totally dedicated to the happiness and service of the beloved husband.  From the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep, your day revolves around your husband.  Your total focus is your husband, your divine husband.  Likes of Sita, Rukshmani and Kalindi are firm in their swamini bhav.


As a girlfriend, you are constantly thinking of your beloved, and yet, because your relationship is not sealed by social acceptance, you are constantly afraid of two things –

1)      Will he leave me for another ?

2)      Will others find out about our love ?

Because it is not public yet, you are constantly conscious of others and conscious of not revealing your love in front of others.  Such is the ardour of your love, you can’t bear to be without your beloved nor can you afford to be near your beloved !  From the moment you awake to the moment you fall sleep – even in your sleep – you are thinking about the love you can not talk about.  Your total, all consuming focus, is for the divine lover whose love you dare not declare openly !  Countless gopis are cited as examples of those who love but dare not declare their love !


As an adoring fan, you love everything about your beloved.  Even the way they ignore you !  As an adoring fan you have no illusions about the remoteness of your object of adoration, yet, you will always carry a torch for your beloved in your heart.  You know it will always be a one-way transaction, and your love will never be reciprocated, yet, you love ardently and live in hope that one day – one fine day, your favourite person will look your way and give you a smile.  As a loyal fan you always talk about your favourite person to anyone and everyone you can and you are gregarious with your praise for everything your favourite person does.  From the moment your beloved wakes till the moment they sleep, you want to know everything – EVERYTHING in total.  Consumed by desire for closeness, you constantly think of your favourite person, your divine favourite person.  Meera and Andel are excellent examples of adoring fans who care not what the world thinks and shout their love from the roof tops !


True friend supports, helps, laughs and crys with a friend.  As a friend to the divine, you are a peer, there is nothing to gain or loose in this relationship.  True friendship is as firm as a rock and as supple as a willow.  You play, you laugh, you work, you do things together and work shoulder to shoulder.  Camaraderie between friends is touching to see and wonderful to watch.  From the moment you wake up till the moment you fall asleep, you are with your friend, sharing, caring, feeling as one.  There is no divine and mundane between friends – this is true friendship – there is true feeling of fraternity and egalite !  Arjun, Janabai etc are true friends of the Lord.  The Lord has Himself shared their burdens with them out of total friendship for them.


As an enemy, you are at constant war with God.  Your every moment is consumed with feeling of how you have been wronged by God and how unfair His laws are.  So consumed are you by this animosity, you can not think of anything other than your enemy and his bad points – morning noon and night !  Hiranyakashyapu, Ravan, Kansa and Shishupal are a few examples of souls that have merged with the Lord through “ver” bhakti !




Beyond these twins of ashrit and sabandhi is the devotee.  The devotee adores and Lord and sings his praises ceaselessly, knowing that the Lord is all powerful and will take care of everything.  Devotee is devoted to service of the lord and works ceaselessly to do the work that is prescribed in the scriptures for them.  Following the dharma assigned to him / her in life, a devotee aims to please the Lord with action, devotion and adoration.  From the moment they awaken till he moment they fall asleep, they are thankful to the God for all that God as provided.  They are aware of the immense power that exists in divine grace and are humble in demeanour.  Likes of Vidur, Vallabh, Gausaiji, Tukaram, Purandards make up countless legions of devotees who throng to the divine feet.



Decide – YOU decide – which one of these YOU want to be.

Bhagwat Shah © 


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