the aspirant in this stage of Bhakti or love, is almost incognizant of his very corporality.
From this survey of the three stages of Bhakti Yoga, it is quite evident that for householders, men of busy avocations, in short, for the masses, the practice of worship is possible only up to the first stage. The average man should follow his creed, whatever it may be, in all sincerity, regardless of the rewards to come, and with the only aim and object of—"I want nothing but You—God."
But when I say "following one's own creed," I mean that everybody should be free to base his worship on the religious ideas and methods that appeal to him most, and not that one should stop dead at believing or disbelieving certain statements of a particular scripture, about subjects that are generally beyond the sphere of intellect. It is the act of worship from the heart, and not thoughts and beliefs, that counts in the religious province.
Thus, for a Hindu, a Muslim, a Christian, a Parsi, the best Bhakti is the performance of the Puja, the Namaz, the prayers, and the Kusti ceremony, respectively. But the performance must be from the very depths of the heart, and with the only object of "I want nothing but You (God)." Otherwise, a religion, however beautiful be its teachings, however grand be its philosophy, becomes nothing but a mere farce, which people indulge in generally more through force of habit and fear of society than through any idea of true devotion and worship.
Unless there is the will to worship, no number of ceremonies and no amount of lip-prayer will ever serve the true purpose of religion. It is one thing to learn by heart the whole of a scripture; it is quite another thing to repeat a single sentence of it from the heart. A Hindu may have the Shastras at his fingertips, but if he lacks in devotion from the heart, he is no better than a typewriter or a calculating machine.
A Muslim may laugh at so-called idol-worship; but he becomes guilty of stray-thought worship, if, while placing his forehead down in a Sijda in the course of his Namaz, without being prompted by the will to worship, he is attacked by objectionable thoughts, for it means that he is at that time paying homage, not to the Almighty, but to those very thoughts. For instance, if a Muslim gets the thought of any man or woman, while doing the Sijda, it amounts to having offered the Sijda to that man or woman, and thus the Namaz turns into a farce.