Vaidya N. Sundaram sundaram at ECN.PURDUE.EDU
Wed Oct 14 15:33:55 CDT 1998

On Mon, 12 Oct 1998, MSR wrote:

> namaste
> I would like to learn from the knowledgeable list members how
> they understand the term "bhakti" in their spiritual practice.

 I do not know if the wording used was intentional ... "how they
understand bhakti" ... it seems to me to be a fundamental question. What I
have learnt and read to be bhakti is not the same as what I understand it
to be. I have tried to put words to my intuitive understanding, then I
have tried to put it under the framework of the general concepts of
 I believe:
 Bhakti is a stream of thoughts, perhaps it is a sigle thought
perpetuating itself. It is not a feeling, no external sensation evokes it;
there is no reason attached to it. Bhakti is not some thing very obvious,
try as much as we can to make it so. It is not to be obtained, it cannot
be taught. The bhakti of another cannot be understood, nor can it
emulated. This concept of bhakti is ideal for a statement used too often
in schools: dont ask why, it is "simply because".
 It cannot be categorised as good better best.  it makes you obvious to
yourself - that is bhakti. The level to which it makes you obvious to
yourself grows until you see your Self as "That by which everything else
is known; that Light by which all else Shine"
 The different methods enumerated by Shri Ram Chandran, I beleive, are
methods by which we try to make our bhakti obvious to ourselves.

 In the larger context, a gory sacrificial offering for one is deep felt
bhakti for another. A foolish venture from one perspective is deep felt
bhakti from another. What constitutes true bhakti is unknown to any of us.
What is perhaps known, is only how to make ourselves consious of it, so
that we may let it grow.

 If you think you have bhakti: reconsider. The following anecdote should
tell you why you should reconsider.
 Prahlad's plight made Him come out of a stone pillar in the form of
Narasimha. The appointed time for killing Hiranyakasipu had not yet
arrived. So He played with Hiranyakasipu for some time. Hiranyakasipu had
bhakti. After simply tearing him apart, He was so angry, that niether the
Devas nor other asuras could approach Him. So much so that even His
consort Lakshmi refused to approach Him. The only person who spoke to Him
then was Prahlad Himself. Prahlad said, they may all think that they have
another place to go, and a refuge to to seek from your wrath at present,
but even now, I know of no refuge other than Thee.
 These are obvious cases of overwhelming emotions, easily categorised as
one or the other.

 If you now think you have no bhakti: reconsider.
 In the Shiva Purana is a story about a petty theif, who steals from the
King and hides in a grove. So that he may not get caught, he smears the
ashes from a fire on himself and pretends to be a holy devotee of Shiva.
At the time he is about to die, Lord yama instructs His servants not to
touch the theif, for Shiva is sending a vehicle to take him to Shivalokam.
Lord Yama Himself says, what is Bhakti and what is not is not our concern.
What pleases Shiva, pleases Him because He wants to be pleased by it.
For all you know, He may be pleased already!!


                      Vaidya N. Sundaram
 The place, time, objects and their knower etc., projected in a dream
during sleep are all mithyA (an illusion/false). So too, here. in the
waking state, the world that is seen is a projection by one's own
ignorance. Likewise, this body, the senses, the breath, the ego etc.,
are all unreal. Therefore, That thou art, the peaceful, defectless,
supreme, non-dual Brahman.  -- Adi Shankara in VivekacUdAmani.

"bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam"
List archives :

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list