Anand V. Hudli
anandhudli at HOTMAIL.COM
Mon Sep 27 09:41:14 CDT 1999
On Mon, 27 Sep 1999 08:59:08 EDT, Rajesh Venkataraman
<rajesh_venk at HOTMAIL.COM> wrote:
>>Thanks for clarifying things.
>>My base objective for such questions to qualified people is due to the
>>that most people in the clan of Vedanta, think that bakthi is some thing
>>that is prescribed for people of lower caliber. They come with a hand full
>>of references and say that saguna upasana is just like studying ABCD ,
>>long will you study that ?., its for kids.
>Krishna himself says in the Bhagavad Gita that Bhakti is of 4 kinds
>1.Artha bhakti - bhakti of a person in distress
>2.arthArthI bhakti - bhakti of a person seeking material well being
>3. jijnAsu bhakti - bhakti of a person seeking liberated person
>4. jnAni bhakti - the bhakti of a liberated person.
>Only the orientation of bhakti varies but bhakti always remains. But the
>fact remains that the first two and even the third kind are of a lower kind
>than the fourth. And it is also true that a person cannot go to the fourth
>without passing through the first 3 stages. So they can never be belittled.
In general, I would say that the role of bhakti in Vedanta has been
difficult to define. This is probably because bhakti itself has been
defined differently and means different things to different people.
In fact, MadhusUdana defines three types of bhakti or devotion in his
gUDhArtha-dIpikA commentary on the gItA:
ubhayAnugatA sA hi sarvavighnopanodinI |
karmamishrA cha shuddhA cha jnAnamishrA cha sA tridhA ||
That bhakti is compatible with both jnAna and karma and it removes
all obstacles (to spiritual progress). It (bhakti) is of three
types - bhakti mixed with karma, pure (shuddhA) bhakti, and
bhakti mixed with jnAna.
There seems to be a sequential process indicated here. First, one
needs to cultivate karma-mishra-bhakti wherein one performs all actions
with a sense of dedication of the fruits thereof to God. This is
followed by a transition into pure bhakti where one is naturally
attracted to God, listening/chanting His glories, and "getting lost"
in the contemplation of God. Then, one realizes (with the help of a
Guru) that God is none other than Atman, the Self of all. This is the
jnAna-mishra-bhakti that everyone on the path of bhakti must strive to
reach ultimately. As the Marathi saint, Eknath sings:
kAyA hI paNDharI, AtmA hA viTThala - The body is this PaNDharI, the place
of pilgrimage. The Self is this God (viTThala).
In the 11th skandha of the bhAgavata, Krishna says:
nirviNNAnAM jnAnayogo nyAsinAmiha karmasu |
teshhvanirviNNachittAnAM karmayogastu kAminAm.h ||
For those who are disgusted with works and have renounced them,
ie. the true sannyAsins, jnAna-yoga is (suitable). For those whose
minds are not disgusted with works, and who have (strong) desires
(greatly attached to works) karma-yoga is suitable.
yadR^ichchhayA matkathAdau jAtashraddhastu yaH pumAn.h |
na nirviNNo naatisakto bhaktiyogo .asya siddhidaH ||
For one who, by sheer fortune, comes to have faith in My glories,
stories, etc., and who is neither disgusted with works nor is too
attached to them, bhakti-yoga yields success.
Therefore, a pre-requisite of sorts for bhakti is that one must
have some basic faith in God and must not be too much attached to
worldly desires. It is clear that the "eligibility requirements" of
bhakti are much less stringent than that for jnAna.
Many people think that bhakti is extremely easy, but that is misleading.
There are some pitfalls in the path of bhakti that one needs to be aware
of. Bhakti is not a mere outward show of piety. Bhakti is not "making deals
with God" where one says "God! You give me such and such, and I will do
such and such for You and Your devotees." Bhakti entails having unflinching
faith in God even under adverse conditions. Some people have a lot of
faith in God, but if they are subjected to some calamity they start
blaming God for it. "Even if I am such a staunch bhakta, look at what
God did to me! I will stop worshipping Him!" and so on. And very
importantly, misguided Bhakti can make one a fanatic, a religious bigot.
What heinous crimes have not people all over the world committed in
the name of faith in their own restricted/distorted view of God!
True bhakti makes one have an all-inclusive view of the world, not
an exclusive view (us vs. them)! Is not a life of "rational thought",
albeit devoid of bhakti, much better than life as a fanatic? Finally,
bhakti to one God does not mean other Gods should be held to be
That is precisely why one needs to have a proper perspective while
traversing the path of bhakti. The ultimate aim should be understood
to be to reach the stage of merging with God or realizing God as the Self.
Then and only then, bhakti becomes effective and leads to liberation.
bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam
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