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Walking the little way

Beginners who are overwhelmed by inadequacy and fear at the very idea of walking the path: the ways of karma yoga, jnana yoga and bhakti yoga seem so exalted as to be virtually inaccessible to them. To such brothers and sisters, I offer the option of what Gurudev Sadhu Vaswani called “the little way” or the alpa marg!

The way of love is the “little way”. It is the way of the little ones, the way which simple folk, such as we are, can tread. It is the way of bhakti, devotion, surrender to the Lord, by offering the love of our hearts to every creature that breathes the breath of life. It is the way of longing, deep yearning for the soul’s beloved. As a miser longs for gold, as a lover longs for his beloved, as a child longs for his mother, even so, said Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa, must you long for the Lord. The longing of the heart breaks forth into tears. For the little way is the way of silent, unbidden tears. And as Sant Tukaram exclaims: “Blessed are they who have tears in their eyes. The tears of bhakti are more precious than the holy waters of the Ganges, Jamuna and Godavari.”

With tear-touched eyes, the bhakta cries the cry of separation: “O Lord, where art Thou? I have sought Thee, birth after birth, but have not yet been blessed with a glimpse of Thy beauteous Face. Have mercy on me, Lord, and reveal Thyself to me!”

For all are the images of the one Lord of love: and love must be denied to none.


In silence, the bhakta sits everyday and, in the agony of separation, cries the cry of love. Coming out of silence, as he looks around him, he finds that the world is sad, is broken, is torn with tragedy, is smitten with suffering. Such a world needs sympathy, compassion, love. And as he moves amongst men, he gives the service of love to all—the virtuous and the wicked alike. For all are the images of the one Lord of love: and love must be denied to none.

It is neither the will-to-power nor the will-to-live, but the will-to-become an instrument of God’s help and healing, in this world of suffering and pain, that will lead to the fulfilment of man’s divine destiny.

God does not demand great things of us. He wants us to walk the little way. All he asks is this: that you do your duty with devotion and dedication. God is pleased with little things, small prayers, small sacrifices, a small charity, a little service; a little prayer and devotion pleases God, if it is offered in reverence and dedication.

To be drenched in love, to lose oneself in love, is to walk, in Sadhu Vaswani’s meaningful words, the “little way”. And to walk the little way is to become humble as the dust, is to be emptied of the ‘self’ and all that the ‘self’ stands for—the clamour and confusion of our sordid, selfish, earthly existence.

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