The easiest and shortest way to God-Realization is through the contact of a Sadguru, which means keeping the company, or sahavas, of such a Master, obeying him and serving him. This remedy is like a special express train which carries you straight to your destination.
The second way is to repeat with all love and in all sincerity any one name of God, and in the absence of a Sadguru to serve humanity selflessly. This is like a journey by passenger train which halts at almost every station.
The third method takes a very long time. It means performing all the rites and ceremonies of one’s religion wholeheartedly and faithfully, but not mechanically. This method is like a freight train chugging along very slowly.
The Avatars and Perfect Masters carry their special disciples with them by express trains. To those individuals who are inclined toward devotion and service, the Masters have shown the path of selfless service and repetition of God’s name. And for the world at large, they have pointed to the path of observing rituals and ceremonies. But all these religious customs and rituals given by the Masters are full of deep meaning. The Hindus’ singing of bhajans and clapping, and the namaz-prayers of the Muslims are methods that do away with sanskaras, the great hindrances on the path to God.
For example, take the kusti, or sacred thread of the Zoroastrians. The three knots of this sacred thread signify the three holy principles of religion: good thoughts, good words and good deeds. Now what is the deep significance of jerking or shaking the kusti before it is worn each day? It symbolizes the throwing off of the dirt (sanskaras) collected since the previous day. But the kusti must be done sincerely with full faith; otherwise, thousands of kustis done out of sheer habit with mere mechanical mutterings are of no avail. Similarly, the Hindus’ bhajan singing and the Muslims’ namaz are an effort to focus the mind on one object – God.
Lord Meher, American ed., Bhau Kalchuri, Vol. 3, pp. 805 – 806.