Jnana and Bhakti

ken knight hilken_98 at YAHOO.COM
Tue Jan 22 15:54:39 CST 2002

Swaminarayan wrote
> Since Bhakti marga and Gyana marga are different
> routes to the same destination,an attempt to fuse
> these two with a view to find bhakti in advaita may
> become an undesirable and a futile exercise.Do you
> not
> agree?
Hemant <reachhemant at ETH.NET> wrote:
> Hemant I agree wholeheartedly. Mixing Bhakti with
> Advaita is most undesirable and can cause any amount
> of confusion. Whether they lead to the same goal is
> open to question.

Namaste Hemant and Swaminarayan Olivia and others,

These comments arose from my statement that 'I had set
out to find devotion in advaita.' Forgive the telling
of a personal story but it is necessary to give you
the context for the later quotes from more respected
and knowledgeable sources than myself.
My training is in the sciences and devotion, as
generally understood, is not my way so when this idea
had risen, out of the ether as it were, it seemed
important to follow it up, wherever it may lead.
The first step was to return to India for the first
time for some thirty years and pay a first visit to
Ramanashram. This lead to two other
ashrams...Anandashram of Papa Ramdas near Kasaragod
and Sachiddananda Ashram of Bede Griffiths, a
Christian/advaitin monk who blends Christian and Hindu
rituals, near Trichy.
Putting events out of order for the moment, there was
a special meeting at the latter ashram that I may
relate some other time. For the moment though I will
just note that I found a copy there of a souvenir
edition of a conference held...in the sixties I
think...called Shankara and Shanmata. Many of the
papers presented at the conference were on Bhakti and
Shankara, and I have in front of me a wonderful paper
by HH Jagadguru Sri Shankaracharya of Kanchi Kamakoti
Peetham which begins:
'Among the factors that are aids to Liberation,
devotion, bhakti, is the highest......(and later he
says); 'To obtain the peace of the state of that
Enlightenment which is called mukti, moksha or
liberation, bhakti is necessary.' Beside this article
there were others by eminent scholars but I do not
have time to type them all out for I want to continue
a little with the story.
At Anandashram I read the books by Papa Ramdas and
found little there to help the quest for he writes of
his travels and devotion in a society so different to
my own that they were not of much interest. Also the
ashram has no meditation hall but rather a bhajan hall
and the daily chanting of Ram Nam for many hours. It
seemed to be the wrong place but I was following a
path set out by the original quest.
However at the ashram I was struck by a pervasive,
subtle sweetness that connected the observer with the
observed. It was a sweetness that prevailed even when
leaving the ashram to go into the town with its usual
bustle and noise.  When I returned to UK and spoke
with a friend who is a follower of the Paramahamsa
Yogananda groups she commented on the sweetness she
experienced when I spoke of the ashram although I had
not mentioned the word.  Then again I found that in
the diksha ceremony at the ashram  Papa Ramdas repeats
the word 'sweetness'...of the Name....many times.
This gave a next step in study but now may I give you
some of the words of Papa Ramdas on jnana and bhakti
as recorded during his discussions with some
householders who were questioning him on the words of
a jnani:(nb. I have posted these words before but they
will be new for others):
'Never think of yourselves as the perishable body.
Always identify with the Spirit, the imperishible,
changeless Atman. When you fully realise that you are
the Atman and not the body you will not be bound by
anything. As a true householder you are to consider
the whole of your property and family to belong to God
and that you are only His agent, entrusted by Him with
the task of running the household.  Is not everyone in
your family a manifestation of Brahman?  You cannot
easily give up this world as a mere illusion.  As long
as the ego-sense remains within you you cannot say 'I
am Brahman.'  And, after all, renunciation is only a
means to an end.  You  ultimately have to realise the
whole universe as the manifestation of the Lord, as
part of His Lila.  Through bhati you will attain jnana
and after attaining jnana you have to still go beyond
to that which is called para-bhakti.  A mere jnani
says the whole universe is an illusion. But one who
has reached the plane of para-bhakti sees the whole
universe as Brahman. Then he does not call it an
illusion but the Lord's lila, though at the same time
he knows the play to be impermanent and transitory so
he does not get entangled.'
The next day he continued:
'Jnana is born in the womb of bhakti and protected by
bhakti. The jnanis say that the universe is an
illusion. When Ramdas was once in Mount Abu, he was
taken to a mahatma living there known as Swami
Kaivalyananda. Going near to the mahatma Ramdas
prostrated before him. The latter sprang up and asked
Ramdas, 'To whom are you prostrating?' Ramdas replied,
'Ramdas is prostrating to Ram.'  He asked again, 'Are
you not the same Ram?' Ramdas said, 'Yes, Ram is in
Ramdas also. He knows he is one with Ram but at the
same time he wants to be His child and to protrate
before Him as does a child to its mother.' Swami
Kaivalyananda said, 'Oh that is all false. the whole
universe is an illusion. There is only one, not two.'

Later Ramdas says:
'Sri Sankara was no doubt a great advaitin who
proclaimed that Brahman alone is real but he admitted
that the manifest and the unmanifest are both Brahman.
 He also established various temples and Maths, wrote
many stotras glorifying the Divine Mother and
composing songs like Bhaja Govindam which lay stress
on bhakti. These show that he was not a mere jnani but
had attained the highest stage of pure bhakti. Sri
Shankara is not properly understood nowadays.'

I draw no conclusions from the above nor are they
quoted to oppose but merely to aid those who may be
inspired by such words. The Holy Tradition will find
its channels particular to each of us and at that time
of discovery these words were precise for me,

Om sri ram jai jai ram

Ken Knight

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