World Scripture


Devotion to God is the love for God that expresses itself in joyful and emotional outpourings of praise and worship and a constant longing for God's sweet presence. This powerful mode of religious consciousness is particularly manifest in the bhakti tradition of Hinduism and Sikhism, in the dancing and songs of Sufi Muslims and Hassidic Jews, and in pietistic movements throughout the history of Christianity. Many of these passages describe this mystical emotion as a transformed and sublime love of a bride for her beloved, as in the Song of Solomon in the Bible, in the love poetry of the Adi Granth, and in the amorous episodes of Krishna and the cowherd girls in the Srimad Bhagavatam. Other passages express devotion to God in songs and psalms of praise.

Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

                Christianity.  Bible, 1 Corinthians 10.31

The supreme Lord who pervades all existence, the true Self of all
creatures, may be realized through undivided love.

                      Hinduism.  Bhagavad Gita 8.22

Heaven and earth contain me not, but the heart of my faithful servant
contains me.

                       Islam.  Hadith of Suhrawardi

He is the Living One; there is no god but He: call upon Him, giving Him
sincere devotion.  Praise be to God, Lord of the Worlds!

                           Islam.  Qur'an 40.65

"And you shall love the Lord"--namely, you shall make the Lord beloved.

                        Judaism.  Talmud, Yoma 86

Yoma 86: Quoting Deuteronomy 6.5, p. 723.
Those who remember the Lord with every breath, each morsel, And in whose mind ever abides the spell of the Lord's Name-- Says Nanak, are blessed, perfect devotees. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Var Gauri, M.5, p. 319 Lord! In praying to you I violate the restraint of tongue, in remembering you I violate the restraint of mind, and in prostrating to you I violate the restraint of body. Be it as it may, I vow to ever pray to you, remember you, and prostrate myself before you. Jainism. Jinasena, Adipurana 76.2 Greater is he who acts from love than he who acts from fear. Judaism. Talmud, Sota 31a The path to the Unmanifest is very difficult for embodied souls to realize [by effort at meditation]. But quickly I come to those who offer me every action, who worship me only, their dearest delight, with undaunted devotion. Because they love me, these are my bondsmen, and I shall save them from mortal sorrow and all the waves of life's deathly ocean. Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 12.5-7 He who loves me is made pure; his heart melts in joy. He rises to transcendental consciousness by the rousing of his higher emotional nature. Tears of joy flow from his eyes, his hair stands on end, his heart melts in love. The bliss in that state is so intense that, forgetful of himself and his surroundings, he sometimes weeps profusely, or laughs, or sings, or dances; such a devotee is a purifying influence upon the whole universe. Hinduism. Srimad Bhagavatam 11.8 Holy is the man of devotion; Through thoughts and words and deed And through his conscience he increases Righteousness; The Wise Lord as Good Mind gives the dominion. For this good reward I pray. I know that my greatest good is to worship The Wise Lord and those that have been and are. By their names will I worship them And come before them with praise. Zoroastrianism. Avesta, Yasna 50.21-22 Be wakeful, for the longing of the righteous to see Me has increased, and verily My longing towards them has increased more. Islam. Hadith As a hart longs for flowing streams, so longs my soul for thee, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God? My tears have been my food day and night. Judaism and Christianity. Psalm 42.1-3 The Chakora bird longs for the moonlight, The lotus longs for sunrise, The bee longs to drink the flower's nectar, Even so my heart anxiously longs for thee, O Lord. Hinduism. Basavanna, Vachana 364 My beloved speaks and says to me, "Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away; for lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth its figs, and the vines are in blossom; they give forth fragrance. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away." Judaism and Christianity. Song of Solomon 2.10-13
Sota 31a: Compare 1 John 4.18, p. 237. Bhagavad Gita 12.5-7: Cf. Bhagavad Gita 18.65-66, p. 644; Srimad Bhagavatam 6.1, p. 909; Japuji 20, M.1, p. 727; Gauri Purabi, Ravi Das, p. 401. Srimad Bhagavatam 11.8: Cf. Chandogya Upanishad 7.23, p. 198; Sun Myung Moon, 10-20-73, p. 197. Yasna 50.21-22: The translation of this Gatha portrays an historical conception of the religion of Zarathustra which may differ from the monotheism of modern Parsees: it appears to have been a henotheism in which the Wise Lord Ahura Mazda is served by subordinate divine entities. Hadith: Cf. Qur'an 11.93, p. 740; Song of Solomon 5.2 , p. 740. Song of Solomon 2.10-13: This book is also called Canticles or Song of Songs. Scholars regard it as originally a collection of some twenty-five songs of love and courtship such as might be sung at weddings. Despite its secular origins, this book has been prized by mystics as lyrically portraying the intimate experience of divine love for the individual soul. Christians have taken it as an allegory of Christ's love for the church, his Bride: see Ephesians 5.21-33, p. 261; Revelation 21.2, pp. 1118f. In the Jewish tradition it describes God's love for Israel: see Canticles Rabbah 2.5, below; Canticles Rabbah 4.4.3, p. 919; Exodus Rabbah, p. 286.
How may I live, Mother, without the Lord? Glory to Thee, Lord of the Universe! To praise Thee I seek; Never without the Lord may I live. The Bride is athirst for the Lord; All night is she awake lying in wait for Him. The Lord has captured my heart; He alone knows my agony: Without the Lord the soul is in travail and pain-- Seeking His Word and the touch of His feet. Show Thy grace, Lord; immerse me in Thyself. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Sarang, M.1, p. 1232 My heart is joy-filled, blossoming with love; Ravished am I by His love-- Love of my eternal Lord. He is the immortal Lord Supreme, Whose will nothing restrains; Gracious, compassionate, In each one's life involved. He is my sole knowledge, object of meditation, adoration, His name in my soul lodged: Neither ritual garb nor wandering nor austere yoga Know I to win Him over: Nanak, true devotion alone conquers His love. Agreeable is the cool night, followed by happy day; Thou who art asleep in thy own ego, the Beloved calls thee. Awakened is the youthful bride to the Lover's call, In aspect pleasing to Him. Thou youthful bride! discard falsehood, deceit, Maya-absorption, concern with the world. Round my neck I wear the pearl-string of His Name, The jewel string of His holy Word. With hands folded Nanak makes supplication: Show Thy grace, take me into Thy favor! Sikhism. Adi Granth, Bilaval Chhant, M.1, p. 843-44 Upon my bed by night I sought him whom my soul loves; I sought him, but found him not; I called him, but he gave no answer. "I will rise now and go about the city, in the streets and in the squares; I will seek him whom my soul loves." I sought him, but found him not. The watchmen found me, as they went about the city. "Have you seen him whom my soul loves?"
Sarang, M.1: Cf. Rig Veda 1.164.49, p. 146.
Scarcely had I passed them, when I found him whom my soul loves. I held him, and would not let him go until I had brought him into my mother's house, and into the chamber of her that conceived me. I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or the hinds of the field, that you not stir up or awaken love until it please. Judaism and Christianity. Song of Solomon 3.1-5 "For I am love-sick" [Song of Solomon 2.5]. Said the community of Israel before the Holy One, "Sovereign of the Universe, all the maladies which Thou bringest upon me are to make me more beloved of Thee." Another explanation: The community of Israel said before the Holy One, "Sovereign of the Universe, the reason for all the sufferings which the nations inflict upon me is because I love Thee." Another explanation: "Although I am sick [i.e. sinful], I am beloved of Him." Judaism. Midrash, Canticles Rabbah 2.5 To the shepherd girls, Krishna was their beloved friend, lover, and companion. When Sri Krishna played on his flute, the shepherd girls forgot everything; unconscious even of their own bodies, they ran to him, drawn by his great love. Once Krishna, to test their devotion to him, said to them, "O you pure ones, your duties must be first to your husbands and children. Go back to your homes and live in their service. You need not come to me. For if you only meditate on me, you will gain salvation." But the shepherd girls replied, "O thou cruel lover, we desire to serve only thee! Thou knowest the scriptural truths, and dost advise us to serve our husbands and children. Very well; we shall abide by thy teaching. Since thou art all in all, and art all, by serving thee we shall be serving them also." Krishna, who gives delight to all and who is blissful in his own being, divided himself into as many Krishnas as there were shepherd girls, and danced and played with them. Each girl felt the divine presence and divine love of Sri Krishna. Each felt herself the most blessed. Each one's love for Krishna was so absorbing that she felt herself one with Krishna--nay, knew herself to be Krishna. Truly has it been said that those who meditate on the divine love of Sri Krishna, and upon the sweet relationship between him and the shepherd girls, become free from lust and sensuality. Hinduism. Srimad Bhagavatam 10.5
Song of Solomon 3.1-5: Cf. Book of Songs, Ode 1, p. 255; note to Song of Solomon 2.10-13, above. Canticles Rabbah 2.5: The first interpretation speaks of how suffering is for the purpose of love, bringing Israel nearer to God; see Menahot 53b, p. 571. The second interpretation refers to the fact that those who love God naturally attract persecution from the fallen world; cf. Matthew 15:11-12, p. 879; Berakot 61b, p. 881; Gittin 57b, p. 886; Hebrews 11, pp. 754f. On the third interpretation, cf. Forty Hadith of an-Nawawi 42, p. 523; 2 Timothy 2:13, p. 507. Srimad Bhagavatam 10.5: Cf. Srimad Bhagavatam 10.34, p. 658; 10.16, pp. 626f.
O Rama... I wish to be with thee! I shall experience no fatigue in following thee, even if I may no longer rest near thee on a luxurious couch. The kusha grass, the reeds, the rushes and thorny briars on the way, in thy company, will seem as soft as lawns or antelope skins! The dust raised by the tempest that covers me will resemble rare sandalwood paste, O my dear Lord. When, in the dense forest, I sleep beside thee on a grassy couch, soft as a woollen cover- let, what could be more pleasant to me? Leaves, roots, fruits, whatever it may be, little or much, that thou hast gathered with thine own hand to give to me, will taste of amrita!... To be with thee is heaven, to be without thee is hell, this is the truth! Hinduism. Ramayana, Ayodhya Kanda 30 Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. But there were some who said to themselves indignantly, "Why was the ointment thus wasted? For this ointment might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii, and given to the poor." And they reproached her. But Jesus said, "Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you will, you can do good to them; but you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burying. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her." Christianity. Mark 14.3-9 Once, while Yasoda was holding the baby Krishna on her lap, she set him down suddenly to attend to some milk that was boiling over on the oven. At this the child was much vexed. In his anger he broke a pot containing curdled milk, went to a dark corner of the room taking some cheese with him, smeared it over his face, and began feeding a monkey with the crumbs. When his mother returned and saw him, she scolded him. As a punishment, she decided to tie him with a rope to a wooden mortar. But to her surprise the rope, although long enough, seemed too short. She took more rope, but still it was too short. Then she used all the ropes she could find, but still Krishna could not be tied. This greatly mystified Yasoda. Krishna smiled within himself, but now, seeing that his mother was completely tired out and perplexed, he gently allowed himself to be bound. He who has neither beginning, nor middle, nor end, who is all-pervading, infinite, and omnipotent, allowed himself to be bound by Yasoda only because of her great love. He is the Lord omnipotent, the Lord of all beings, the con- troller of all; yet he permits himself to be controlled by those who love him. Hinduism. Srimad Bhagavatam 10.3
Ramayana: Sita expresses her undying love for Rama. Since Rama is God incarnate, Sita's devotion is representative of every true devotee of the Lord. See Ramayana, Sundara Kanda 19-22, pp. 884f. Srimad Bhagavatam 10.3: The last line from this account of an episode from the life of Krishna expresses an important truth: love is the one power which can control even the Almighty God.
Sing you all, and sing aloud! Devotees, sing your songs. Let children, too, sing. Sing to him who is like a mighty fortress. Let the viol send down its strains, the lute raise its voice around, the bow string strike its echoing sound: to Indra is our hymn upraised. Hinduism. Rig Veda 8.69.8-9 Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty firmament! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his exceeding greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with timbrel and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals! Let everything that breathes praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! Judaism and Christianity. Psalm 150 Come together, you all, with the power of spirit, to the Lord of heaven, who is One, the Guest of the people. He, the ancient, desires to come to the new. To him all pathways turn; verily he is One. We all here are thine, O Indra, praised by many, We who go about, attached to thee, Lord of wealth! O Lover of song, none but thee receives our songs. Love these our words as the earth loves her creatures. Loud songs have sounded to the bounteous Indra, One worthy of praise, the Supporter of mankind, to the much invoked, waxing strong with lovely hymns, and the immortal One who is sung day by day. Towards Indra have all our loving songs, joined to the heavenly light, proceeded in unison; as a wife embraces her husband, comely bridegroom, so they encompass the bounteous One for his grace. Hinduism. Sama Veda 372-375
Rig Veda 8.69.8-9: Cf. Ramkali Anandu, M.3, p. 201. Psalm 150: Cf. Psalm 100, p. 202.