[Advaita-l] Bhakti to Prapatti

kuntimaddi sadananda kuntimaddisada at yahoo.com
Sat Jul 18 06:25:37 CDT 2015

PraNAms to all

Copying from my files. 

On prayer – Bhakti to Prapatti.

Namaskaram Sada-ji,

I understand your guidelines in general. However the word "Lord" is giving me some trouble as to how to interpret. You see Lord as the life-principle of living beings, and you want to see the Lord everywhere. We can perhaps also understand the Lord as the essence or nondual Consciousness-substratum of all dualistic perceptions.

What I understand in this view is that the Lord is understood impersonally, and not as the personal Being. If this is the case, what is the point of "praying" to the Lord when we do not regard Him as having a mind, knowing us personally, etc? To make prayer purposeful to our minds, don't we have to superimpose further personal connotations on the Lord, which makes the process seem hypocritical and unappealing? 

How do we resolve this? What is the pramana by which you see more in this "Lord" than the typical scientist? The scientist may recognize substratum even, or natural laws or forces in operation, but not the personal dimension where our prayer will receive corresponding response from the Lord – except in the way our minds become conditioned by the process of praying itself.

First about the objective scientists: The so-called scientist you are referring to are objective scientists who have a limited understanding of what science really means. I have discussed this before and also in my introduction to the Matreyi Brahman where Shakara points what a true science means.

Science means knowledge and objective sciences are limited by objective tools and therefore not complete science. Veda also means science but it is more absolute science since it includes the analysis of subject, object and interrelation between the two. Hence it is complete science. The problem the objective scientists find is the objective tools are not valid for the analysis of the subject. Hence in these Vedanta alone becomes a pramaana and there is no way to get around that problem.

Now about Sadhana.

There are three aspects involved in the evolution of the mind, in understanding the mahaavakya or before one goes into aatma-anaaatma vichaara. 

As long as one's mind is in the triad state - jjiva - jagat - Iswara, we have an evolution of the mind from

1. Eka rUpa Iswara to 
2. aneka rUpa Iswara to 
3. arupa Iswara 
4. Ultimately leading to the aatam - anaatma vichaara. 

1. Ekar rUpa Iswara involves the IshTa devata - where seeing the Lord in a particular form for the mind that is otherwise dissipating in unnecessarily pursuits in the world of objects, to focus on the Lord, who is the creator - sustainer - and annihilator of the Universe. Lord is defined as in Brahma suutra - Janmaaddyasya yataH. 

At this stage, all the rituals and the prayers are involved with the recognition that Lord is karma phala daata or giver of fruits of action. He is protector as well as punisher too.  Some claim that they are god-fearing people. Any problem comes; I run to the temple or to the Lord or pray to the Lord. Krishna calls these as aarthaH and arthaarthii bhaktas as they think of the Lord when they need something, since they recognize that the Lord is giver. This is important step for the mind that is restless. One has to have attachment to the higher to get detached from the lower. Hence this bhakti although of lowest form helps the mind to become calm so that actions can be done better to solve a given situation. 

In this earlier stage, Bhakti is invoked at the altar of the Lord in the temple or in the puja room. Minds of many people fall in this range, where they want to run to this temple or that temple, or do this puja or that puja, making sure that the priest chants the correct gotram and names of all the people, whom they want the Lord to bless with all the goodies. At this stage, the Lord is still controller or sustainer and prayer and to that Lord daily payer becomes important, to insure one is on His white-list than black-list. All rituals become important and have to be done as per the rules prescribed. Rituals are kaamya karmas or for gaining particular favor from the Lord.  

As one evolves and recognizes that Lord is not just a means to gain something that I love, where the love is not for the Lord but for the goodies that I love called means love or Love for God is a means to get what I love;  higher is the Love for the Lord himself not for the Goodies.  I love the Lord itself as the very essence of myself, then we are going from a prayer for individual benefit to collective benefit - This is where the prior sadhana comes into picture, where seeing the Lord in me as the Lord in all. - The mind now prays for the benefit of all - sarve bhavantu sukhinaH..Let all be happy, etc.  Now individual gotrams and names are no more pertinent, since I am slowly moving to the second level of -aneka ruupa Iswara. One can still give gotram and other things when priest asks, but in his mind prayer is not for something but to see the presence of the Lord only in all. Priest may chant his normal mantras that you are doing this puja for
 health, wealth etc., but in mind that is mature one recognizes that he gets what he is due to his praarabda and the prayer is only to invoke His presence in everything that one sees or transacts with. 

2. Previous sadhana now slowly shifts to the Lord from a Ishta devata form to the very life principle in everyone. Now prayers and rituals are done with this understanding. Bhakti now evolves to universality with compassion to all live forms. As the mind becomes purer, the Vedanta Sharavana has to be done along with this vision to understand the nature of Lord that I love – Krishna calls him as jignaasu or seeker of knowledge of who is Iswara.  At this junction, this vision itself becomes a prayer than any specifics - but specific prayer also turns into this universal vision, with this practice. In this process, the mind gets purified from raaga and dveshas. 

Hence, next level of sadhana requires shravana and mananam of the scriptures where the understanding of the Lord has to shift from creator to the creation itself, and to pure consciousness-existence where there is really no creation other than the apparent one. 

3. Hence in the evolution of the mind, one slowly shifts to the third definition of the Lord - arUpa Iswara where he is all pervading and infinite but expressing as the world of plurality - Hence service to the Lord shifts form the temple and puja room to the world at large - jagat ishadeehi uktasevan, says Bhagavan Ramana. Hence mind gets involved in only dhaarmic actions that benefit the world at large. 

4. With the Vedanta shravana and manana, that is listening to the scriptures for a prolonged length of time under a competent teacher and reflecting on the teaching. That understanding should lead to the fact that Lord is not separate from me or the world - we move to aatma - anaatma vichaara. For this constant nidhidhyaasna of the absolute truth has to be done with the recognition that I am the substratum of the whole universe. The highest prayer is not for some Lord outside but the very recognition of the self that I am as pure consciousness and existence that pervades all the names and forms –That itself becomes the highest sadhana . This is done by constant reflection in terms of continuous study of the scriptures, discussions of the highest reality teaching, writing, or even meditation quietly in a corner - the essential point is the mind should be constantly aware of the self that pervades the whole universe and all names and forms are just
 vibhuti of the self itself. - aatmaityevopaaseeta - sarvam yadayamaatmaa –Constant contemplation on the Self that I am – as I am the very substratum of the whole universe of names and forms,  etc are understood as facts, even if the mind occasionally takes a shelter in its habitual likes and dislikes. The mind running to its habitual likes and dislikes becomes less and less as one abides in this knowledge of oneness that pervades the aatma- anaatma. 

This is bhakti that leads to prapatti where either He alone is there or I alone am as Krishna puts this in both forms – yo mam pasyati sarvatra, sarvanca mayi pasyati  - one who sees ME everywhere and everything in ME or in the very next sloka – sarva bhuutastam aatmaanam, sarva bhuutanicha aatmani – one sees oneself in all and all in oneself – here seeing means understanding. I hope everybody sees this clearly!

This constant reflection of the presence of the self in all or Lord in all (including in oneself) has to be done until the body drops. 

Hari Om!

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