For me, the real bhakti is in the form of a recognition in the form of a knowledge. What is that knowledge? That knowledge is that God is present everywhere, in everything, in general. He alone is present and this presence of God is something to be recognized, apprehended, cognized, comprehended.
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Harih Om Tat Sat. Harih Om Tat Sat. Jai Guru. Jai Guru.
I thought I will discuss this subject until all of you are clear about how the devotional practice and the wisdom practice beautifully merge and also support each other; they are very mutual. See, according to the thought of devotion, we try to develop the idea of complete reconciliation. What is that?
Whatever will take place, let it be according to the pūrva karma I have done. So I don’t have to bother about, I should not bother about what is going to take place, what will come to me and what thereafter. If there is anything to be, it will be governed by pūrva karma. Pūrva karma cannot be changed, altered, corrected, minimized, reduced. Pūrva karma having been already done, its effect will take place. That effect cannot be wiped or mitigated, reduced.
Therefore he says, “I don’t have to worry about anything; I should not bother about because the whole life is an already established outcome of whatever karma was done by me earlier. Don’t go into any other item. Whether there was karma, how much of it is there, how much is yet to be there etc. etc. Don’t worry about it. Every event, development, occurrence and course in our life is governed by previous karma which is unalterable. Therefore, I am not going to bother about anything whatsoever. I have no desire to acquire wealth, I have no desire not to acquire also. Everything is governed.”
Now what is the impact or effect of this kind of an attitude? The attitude itself is from and of your mind. The effect of the attitude is also in the mind. So under this devotional thought or kārmic thought, what is the factor in you which you propose to influence and set right? The mind. So the mind fosters this belief, this faith. And under this faith, the mind subjects itself to and then it becomes quiet and calm. This is the effect of this philosophy.
The devotee says that “Let me be anywhere, either here or in heaven or in hell or by the side of your feet or at your feet, maybe in Vaikuṇḍa or Kailāsa, let me be wherever I am, but disregarding all that, I only want my mind to rest on your lotus feet.”
Avadhīrita-śāradāravindau caraṇau te marane’pi chintayāmi. ‘Even at the time of my physical death, I will only think of your lotus feet.’
Now, tell me what is the impact of this thought process. The mind develops such a faith on the pet God of its, that it says “I am not going to bother about any kind of an outcome, faith, plight or otherwise that may approach me or befall me. I will only think of my Lord’s lotus feet and feel contended by that.” Tell me, where is that impact and what is the impact? The impact is in the mind and the attitude is also of the mind.
Now let us go to the other side - The wisdom side. What does it say?
Yadṛcchā-lābha-santuṣṭo. Contented by whatever chance or providence brings about. I am not going to bother about what will come, when it will come, who will cause it, why, what for. No! Whatever chance brings me, whatever chance takes me to, whatever chance bestows, leads me, from, to…Yadṛcchā-lābha-santuṣṭo. I shall be contented with that.
So here contentment is derived from a reconciliation to Yadṛschikata, a life resting upon providence or chance. If everything chance brings, I accept and I reconcile with; I don’t have to bother about anything. So this is also an attitude of the mind, generated by the mind, preserved by the mind, which delivers contentment, peace and fullness. Whether you call it a devotional reliance or whether you call it reliance on chance, what difference does it make? The difference, not at all there; in both cases, the mind is fostering the attitude and the mind makes itself free of all conditions and considerations. What is the difference between devotion and wisdom now? Yadṛcchā-lābha-santuṣṭo.
Another thought process - “My dear God, are you not everywhere? Are you not in all places? Are you not outside and inside me? So is there anything besides you in the world or anywhere else? Nothing! Am I not surrounded by you? Am I not penetrated by you? Whether I cry, weep or laugh, are you not equally penetrated in me? My crying and my laughing, will it ever change the position that God is penetrating as well as surrounding me? This is a fact; this is a knowledge. This is an assurance that I am able to feel. In front of this assurance, I find all my efforts come to a stop. I don’t have to create this God surroundingness or God penetratingness. It is a fact; God is all-pervasive; he is present inside and outside. I have recognized this and I am governed by the recognition. So for me, God is not a matter of faith and acceptance. It is on the other hand, a fact to be known, cherished and preserved.”
So am I to focus on grasping this truth that God is surrounding me and penetrating me or am I to do anything else? This is the way of understanding but that understanding itself generates an unshakable position for you. A position which will not allow you to aspire for anything, either to get into something or get away from something. All kinds of love and hatred will vanish from the mind. Everything is inbuilt in this belief, in this recognition.
Now I will tell you, years back I had a discussion with Subbarama Bhattar, very great scholar of Thrissur. President has awarded him a special pension, destitute pension. He was a devotee in spite of the fact that he was a scholar. So devotion is generally explained as परमप्रेमरूपा, Parama-prema rupā. It is in the nature of supreme fondness or love for the Lord. सा परानुरक्तिरीश्वरे, sā parānurakir-īśware. It is the supreme romantic love towards the Lord. These are Bhakti sūtrās of Narada and Shandilya.
But I used to say, this was years back in 1960s - I don’t feel bhakti is in the nature of a fondness or love for Lord. For me, the real bhakti is in the form of a recognition in the form of a knowledge. What is that knowledge? That knowledge is that God is present everywhere, in everything, in general. He alone is present and this presence of God is something to be recognized, apprehended, cognized, comprehended.
You have to know this. When you know this like 2+3=5, this knowledge can never leave you as long as you are there and you are conscious. As Yogavasishtha puts it, if the body of a knower is cut into pieces, his body is cut into pieces, his knowledge of the soul will never be affected. The body will produce pain, he may groan, he may cry and weep aloud, that is all body’s reactions and responses. In what way will the knowledge about the truth, the soul get dimmed by that? 2+3=5, does the knowledge get dimmed if you are sick or if you are hurt? You may say “Don’t ask me now, ask me later.”, that’s all, but 2+3=5. Similarly God’s presence is also a very clear point.
Now how do you find any difference between the two? Can you use bhakti to reach a state of infallibility? By your bhakti you should be able to reach a stage or state or pedestal where whatever be your attitude or relationship with God, that will not be the least affected; it will remain throughout the same. That sameness, uniformity, oneness, constancy, these are going to be the finale of either bhakti or jñāna.
In jñāna, what is the climax? Whatever knowledge you have, that knowledge will never falter. It will never be slipped by you; it will not slip from you. It will remain, remain, remain, remain, remain. You may be poor, you may be ill-treated, you may be put into trouble, you may be very successful, very fast, very favored, very honored, very dishonored. In all these, that knowledge can never get dimmed, because this knowledge is a derivative of your intelligence. As long as the mind and intelligence are there and nothing is harmful to them, then the knowledge will continue. It is not related to any external factor, external circumstances or external conditions.
Even if I am suffering from fever, when you ask me what is 4+3, I will say 7. Then also I will say it is 7. Suppose I am healthy, then I will say it is 7. When I am hungry, then also it is 7. Suppose I cannot speak, I will write 7 before you. This position is the same for a devotee and for a knower of truth. It is a question of whether you approach God with an emotion-oriented nature or you approach God with a knowledge-oriented nature. Mind represents devotion, emotion, and intelligence represents knowledge. So I don’t think that there is any difference between the two at all provided you understand the subject properly and you are able to think and evaluate matters well.
Any kind of a devotion which is related to God will become true and perfect when the devotee is very clear that he will never lose God or he will never be separated from God. He will not expect a uniform life. Life will be undulating; his body also will become old; there may be diseases. Suppose there is a spell of disease, common disease throughout the society, he may also become a victim, he may not is a different factor, but he may also become. So any kind of a physical, sensory, mental or other condition will not affect this understanding at all, is a fact. That understanding maybe of a devotional garb or it may be of a rational or a knowledge garb, there is no difference at all. Both are equally related to and are extensions of your own inner mind and intelligence.
Harih Om Tat Sat. Jai Guru.