[Advaita-l] Bhakti expressed in Karmayoga
kuntimaddisada at yahoo.com
Sun Jul 23 17:22:33 EDT 2017
PraNAms to all
This was posted several years ago - posting it again in terms of bhakti in Karmayoga.
In the third Chapter, only two yogas are mentioned one Karmayoga and the other jnaana yoga - there was no Bhakti yoga - since Bhakti is essential for both karma yoga and jnaana yoga.
Karma Yoga – Part V: Devotion and Devotee
Love for higher is called devotion, while love for the lower is called lust. One rises in devotion while the other falls in love or lust. What constitutes ‘higher’? That which provides an inspiration, that which integrates the mind and intellect, that which makes the mind calm and quiet, and that which energises an individual is called the higher goal. Higher the goal, higher the energy that one can draw from the goal itself. An inspired action can follow from the one who has high goal provided his mind is fully dedicated or devoted to the action. A puny man with a stick in his hand and handful of salt in the other could inspire the whole nation and shake the whole British Empire only because of his complete surrender to the highest goal.
Love demands sacrifice. ‘I love you, but…’ that but does not come when there is pure love. This is shown beautifully in Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayana Series where Bharata goes to the forest to bring Rama back to Ayodhya. He goes to the forest with the notion that his devotion to Rama is greater than Rama’s commitment to Dharma, and Rama has to oblige to return to Ayodhya. Janaka points out that devotion is greater than dharma provided one surrenders to his Lord. In surrendering, there is no demand of ‘what I want’ but fulfilling only whatever the Lord wants – ‘thy will be done not mine’ should be the understanding. Iswara arpaNa will be transformed as Iswara aajna or daiva iccha – His will or His desire.
Life involves playing many roles and transacting with duality. From morning until night and from birth to death one is constantly playing roles. I am a son, brother, husband, father, employee, citizen, etc. All these are roles I play. When I encounter my father, I am a son; when I encounter my daughter, I am a father; when I encounter my wife I am a husband; and when I encounter my office I am an employee, etc. Thus with each encounter, I play a different role. All roles are temporal roles since I am not a father all the time. I am a father only when I encounter my daughter, and husband only when I encounter my wife and likewise the other roles. In each role, I have to play my role as best as I can to make the drama of life as beautiful as possible. Life is a drama and one has to play the roles as long as one lives. Playing the game of life is not a problem, provided I know how to play. In the role-playing, I do face the problems in those roles; and that is part of the play. As a father, I may face a problem but as a husband or employee, I have no problems. The father role has a problem but those problems have nothing to do with other roles. If I am a good actor playing different roles, each role is played independently of other roles. Unfortunately, our problem is we do not know how to play the drama of life. When father-role has a problem in the father-daughter set-up, I am carried away with that problem affecting my play in the other roles. Then playing all the roles becomes a problem. However, roles will have problems and that is the nature of the roles and the nature of the drama of life itself. There should not be any problem if the roles have a problem; otherwise, the drama will be dull. However, if the problem of a role is taken as my problem, then I have a real problem. This is our number one problem.
Just as I am playing the role of father when I encounter my daughter, and role as a husband when I encounter my wife, I play the role of a devotee when I go the temple. Once out of the temple, I am back to other roles. Thus, unfortunately, the role of the devotee is also taken as a temporal role like any other role. My relationship with the Lord has become like any other relationships – that means I have not understood what Lord means. I have not recognized that Lord is everywhere and in every ‘set-up’. Therefore a devotee’s role is not a temporal role since Lord and I are present in every set-up that I am involved (antarbahischa tat sarvam vyaapya naaraayana sthitaH – Narayana is inside as well as outside – there is no place where He is not). If I start recognizing this fact, then my role as a devotee and my relationship to the Lord becomes a fundamental relationship, independent of time and space. I cannot but be a devotee all the time, since I cannot but encounter the Lord all the time and in all encounters.
If we examine this carefully, we have to play two roles all the time, one a temporal role depending on the set-up and the other a devotee role in any set-up. Hence, I am father plus a devotee, a husband plus a devotee, a son plus a devotee, an employee plus a devotee, a seeker plus a devotee. My devotee’s role remains constant while the other roles keep changing with the changing set-up. The first thing to do is to recognize this fact and have a constant awareness that Lord is there everywhere, and I cannot afford not to be a devotee all the time. We cannot even afford to ignore this relationship since unlike other relationships this is a fundamental relationship in all relationships. When I love my daughter, I automatically am conscious of her presence when she is there and am ready to sacrifice for her happiness. The love flows in all my dealings with her. Similarly, when I have the devotion (love for the higher is devotion) for the Lord, I have to begin to recognize His presence wherever he is and offer with love whatever I can. The only way to win over the Lord is by devotion. This is beautifully depicted in the story of ‘Shree Krishna Tulaabhaaram’ in Bhagavatam. Satyabhama wanted to win over Krishna by offering equivalent weight of gold. However, she did not realize that there is no way Krishna who supports the whole universe can be weighed by any amount of gold. On the other hand, Rukmini wins over him with just a leaf of Tulasi offered with devotion. Krishna says:
patram pushpam phalam toyam yo me bhaktyaa prayacchati|
tadaham bhaktupahRitam ashnaame priyataatmanaH||
Whoever offers me a leaf, a flower, a fruit or water desiring nothing but with full devotion, I will accept it very gladly.
Hence, ‘yat karoti yad ashnaati .. tat kurushve madarpanam’ whatever you do and whatever you eat .. offer it to me’ can happen once I recognize that I have to play the role of the devotee all the time. But the fact of the matter is, whatever I do or eat, it is automatically offered to him – since I have the only choice in action but not in the results and He is the one who takes the action and returns the results. He is already receiving the action whether I offer it to him or not. Similarly, he is the one who as vaiswaanara staying inside and digesting all that food that I eat. When he is already receiving everything anyway, why does He ask us to offer them with devotion?
When one offers with devotion, two things happen. First, we are recognizing the fact that He is everywhere and everything belongs to Him. So what we are offering is not ours but His only. Then, what we are offering is only our notions that it is ours. We are essentially offering our ahankaara and mamakaara, the notions that ‘I am the doer and I am the enjoyer’, which bind us down to our karma.
The second thing is in terms of our role-playing. We discussed that we are playing two roles, a husband plus a devotee, father plus a devotee, etc. Husband plus a devotee becomes a devoted husband. Father plus a devotee becomes a devoted father. Similarly a devoted employee, a devoted citizen, etc. Every action becomes a devoted action, with Him present. When one performs one’s best, then it becomes a devoted action. Then the action itself becomes a prayer to the Lord. Thus, not only I recognize His presence everywhere, I become a full-time devotee, and the actions and the role that I play become devoted actions and devoted role. Then karma becomes karma yoga. Every action becomes a yagna, or for yagna, since yagna also means the Lord. ‘yagno yagnapatiH yagvaa yagnaago yagnavaahanaH’ says in Vishnu sahasra naamaavali. Hence, do the actions in the spirit of yagna also implies do the action for parameswara preetyartham – perform the action to please the Lord. Even while chanting the Vishnu sahasra naamaavali, we chant – Shree mahaa Vishnu preetyartham – for the pleasure of mahaavishnu only we are chanting this and not for our personal gains. Whatever that comes unasked is received with reverence as ‘prasaadam’.
How do I become a full time devotee? A Swami used to tell a story. There was a young boy who was hired as a cook by a gentleman. Since the boy was very much interested in music, he used to hum and sing as he was cooking. Since he was a good cook, the gentleman did not mind his singing. When a visitor came and heard the singing, he asked the gentleman – “who is singing in the kitchen?” The gentleman responded, “Oh! That is my cook. He likes to sing”. The visitor said, “He is good, why don’t you let him learn music?”. The gentleman agreed and arranged for music lessons for the cook. Because of his interest, the boy practised a lot and slowly graduated from that teacher and then the next teacher and so on until he became an expert in music. He became a professional singer much sought after for music programs. Ones he had a program in the same town where the gentleman is living, and he visited him to pay his respects. Since he knows the gentleman’s tastes, he went into the kitchen to cook something for him. When a visitor asked who is cooking in the kitchen, the gentleman responded, “Oh! That is the famous musician is cooking in the kitchen”. The visitor was very much surprised why the famous musician is cooking in the gentleman’s kitchen.
Before it was a cook that was singing – now the great musician is cooking. Whatever he does now, it is that great musician that is doing. The transformation is complete. A cook is transformed into a great musician – How? It is only by saadhana, that involves a single pointed effort withdrawing from all other dissipative pursuits.
ananyaashchitayanto maam ye janaaH paryupaasate|
teshhaam nityaabhiyuktaanaam yogakshemam vahaamyaham||
without any other thought in mind who thinks of me all the time and worships me, desiring nothing, I will take care of him completely.
Thus, doing daily prayer and performing the panca mahaa yagnas, meditating on the glories of the Lord are essentially the process to transform oneself into a full-time devotee. Krishna emphasises that ‘abhyaasa and viaragya’ i.e. constant practice and detachment from all other dissipative pursuits, are the two essential tools for one’s growth.
Therefore, bhakti manifests at the action level as karmayoga. I cannot but offer everything to him. Once I recognise that everything actually belongs to him, what is there left for me to offer? ‘tvadiiyam vastu govinda tubhyameva samarpaye’, Oh| Lord this is all yours and I am offering it to you what belongs to you’. What I am offering then is only my notions that they are mine. Krishna understands our language and takes only our devotion and returns back what He thinks we need for our growth
More information about the Advaita-l mailing list