Bhagavadgita Pages, Chapters 1 to 18

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Bhakti: devotion to a personal god. The path is Bhakti Marga. Krishna advocates Bhakti Marga for all. Other paths are Karma Marga and Jnana Marga. The purpose of all margas is liberation of the soul and its reunion with its Source, The Absolute.  Once reunion takes place, the soul does not take birth on earth appearing in the body of a human, animal, plant and other living things. The slate of karma is wiped clean; the soul involutes into Brahman. Liberation by Karma and Jnana (work and knowledge) are more difficult paths and are not suitable for everybody. Work (Karma Yoga) in Brahmanical term means practice of religious duties according to the prescriptive injunctions of the sastras (Karma Khanda). Tantrics practice this kind of UpAsana (worship). As you see, this is a 24-7 ritual, which is difficult to accomplish for ordinary devotees. Karma (work) has its roots in Dharma, the personal ethical and religious law. When Karma Marga becomes more refined, the practitioner (Sadhaka) may give up the Karma Marga and follow the more difficult path, Jnana Marga. Jnana Marga is for the Yogis who have yoked their body, mind and soul to Brahman. That is a perfect union of man and god. All cannot be Yogis. Performing breath control and postures is not Yoga; that is easy. The proper Yogi has to follow the eight-limbed ramifications to its perfection. Go to the following files for details. BG06 TMTM03.

Lord Krishna says, 6.36:  In my opinion, Yoga is difficult to attain, if the mind is unrestrained. But by control of the mind, and endeavor through proper means, it is attainable.  

        According to Yoga Sutras, there are personality types, fit for yoga. You heard about         personality types like type A and type B. Yogis studied the minds of people and divided them into five types: Kshipta Chitta (Addlehead, Scatterbrain); Mudha Chitta (Muddlehead); Vikshipta Chitta (Rattlehead); Ekāgra Chitta (Laserhead); Niruddha Chitta (good head). Go to BG04 for more details. The epithets used here are for entertainment only and no insult is intended. The Laserhead and the Good Head are suitable for Yoga or Jnana Marga.

Kshipta Chitta = distracted Mind, absent mind. Mudha = useless, to no purpose. Viksipta = scattered, distorted, agitated. EkAgra = one pointed. Niruddha = restrained. For more details go to BG04

The Mind lake

Chitta is the mind (as a lake) where thoughts rise and fall like waves; these waves in the mind lake are called Vrittis. Every time a thought rises it is a thought wave; there are many thoughts waves rising and falling every minute. Thoughts sometimes translates into actions. When a Yogi restrains the mind he can effectively suppress and abolish these thought waves in the mind lake. The tranquil mind lake without waves is a prerequisite for merging with the Object of meditation. The subject, the object and perception become one, meaning that the tranquil reflecting surface of the mind lake takes the color of object; it is like the crystal taking the color of the juxtaposed object.  The Yogi becomes one with One. That is absorption.   

Maxim of Wasp and Worm

You (embodied being) are made of your thoughts; what you think, you become: love, fear or hate. The body belongs to that which devours it in life. Time is the great devourer. Avadhuta says knowing that his body, subject to birth, death, and rebirth, does not belong to him; he wanders renouncing all.

A lowly worm is in constant fear of the wasp and thus meditates on the wasp, not knowing when the dreaded fate of sting from the wasp will become a reality. The worm is so possessed of the image of the wasp, that its consciousness is reposed only in the thought and form of a wasp. The worm becomes a wasp in its mind's image.  Similarly, an Avadhuta or Yogi  is constantly meditating on Brahman, not knowing when The Reality will strike (the blessed event of knowing and transforming himself to Brahman would take place). He thus becomes Brahman himself by dwelling in his mind on Brahman, (when the finality of  sting strikes.)

            This union (reunion, reintegration, reintegration of the chip into the Old Block, Brahman) is called Laya. Laya = clinging, dissolution, absorption) By laya, the Jiva (individual soul) clings, dissolves and gets reabsorbed into Brahman. Sanskrit Laya and English Lysis are cognate words. This Laya are of three types: Bhakti laya, Karma Laya, Jnana Laya. Raja Yoga is the most difficult path. Patanjali  is the formulator of Raja Yoga and lived some 2000 years ago. It is the Royal path leading to Laya. He wrote it in Sutras or aphorisms. It deals with Yoga, mental functions, and many gradations of Samadhi (Intense contemplation of an object so as to identify the contemplator with the object meditated upon; simply becoming one with One or That). 

    Bhakti Yoga is for everyone inclined to devotion to and close relationship with his Ishtadevata (Deity of one's liking or Personal God). Jnana Yoga is for the one with intellectual bent; Karma Yoga is for the ritualist; Raja yoga is for the disciplined mind with intellectual and scientific bent; Bhakti Yoga is for the devotee who has an emotional approach to God. The devotee assumes the role of a child, a slave, a friend, a spouse in relation to his Ishtadevata. A feminine role towards god is common among devotees of Alvar type. Action generates Karma which is good, bad or neutral. Bhakti Yogis, by their personal devotion, believe that God's grace will erase all Karma and take them into His bosom.

    Bhakti seems to have originated in Rg Vedic times. Bhakti movement had taken a detour off the Brahmanical Hinduism. Bhakti Yoga as advocated by Krishna existed before the Bhakti movement in Tamil Nadu. This movement was a response, when Buddhism and Jainism in South India were perceived as an alien metastatic growth in the cultural milieu of Tamil Country. They had to be excised and ousted somehow: that was the view of Nayanars and Alvars, the proponents of Bhakti movement.

    Buddhists and Jains monks though they were powerful and had royal support in Tamil Country, were fair game for the Saiva Saint poets. Appar pointedly jabs at the Jain monks for converting him from Hinduism to Jainism, which were the dominant religions in South India in the early C.E. Sambandar (7th Century C.E.) seems to have a particular loathness for the Jain monks for not speaking chaste Tamil or chaste Sanskrit, for mutilating both, for ascetic nudity, and tonsure, and for body odor and halitosis from not bathing and cleaning their teeth. These Jain and Buddhist Monks were new immigrants to Tamil Country from Telugu and Karnataka countries. Being strangers with bad Tamil and Sanskrit, body odor, foul mouth and shaven head, they faced the Brahmins and the country people, who were eager to oust them. This is not entirely true; Cilappatikāram, Tamil epic, was the product of Ilankovadigal, a Jain Monk.

Vivekachoodamani  page 50 Commentary by Swami Chinmayananda on Bhakti

The word bhakti is misinterpreted and misconceived as pure meditation.

●Sankara says that bhakti is the path, but he adds codicil explaining the term bhakti. According to him bhakti is not a practice of beggary at the feet of a noble ideal, however transcendental it may be, but he defines it openly as a constant and consistent effort at raising the ego-centre from the welter of its false values to the memory and dignity of Self-hood.

●In thus defining bhakti, Sankara cannot be criticized, at least not by those who understand what he says. Bhakti as it has come down to us today, represents almost a superstitious conception, stinking in its decadence, a moral dread, a disgusting intellectual slavery, a crawling mental attitude, a blind dependence upon a supreme God to take us away from all our self-created mischiefs. So we find a self- ruined society being faithfully courted by a profit-seeking priest-class, functioning generally from Spiritually polluted centres which have come to be called temples. Those who visit temples with seeming symptoms of devotion after psycho- analysis, are found to be a set of helpless personalities with neither the courage to face life nor the conviction to renounce, neither the mental stamina to live nor the intellectual vtgour to enquire,neither the imagination to believe nor the daring to disbelieve--they are mainly a crowd of men flocking towards the sanctum--half in fear and half in deluded hopes. ●Such a devotee in the presence of his brimstone-raining God who will be angry at every weakness of the mortal, but can be a convenient abettor of the devotee's own criminal intentions in Society and life, cannot be expected to grow spiritually or to gain any satisfaction from his religion. This is an ugly caricature of the great theory of bhakti as expounded by Vyasa in his Narada Bhakti Sutra. According to the Bhakti Sutra God-devotion has been described as para- anuraknthe supreme unquestioned, unmotivated love for the Lord which seeks no reward.




●As Kahlil Gibran beautifully puts it, "Love gives naught but itself, and takes naught but itself; Love possesses naught,    nor would it be possessed; for love is sufficient unto love”. Thbis being so, the best of love is in the lover’s attunement with the beloved. The attunement is successful to the degree the lover identifies himself with the beloved.

●Thus, identification is the measuring rod of love. When the identification is complete, love is fulfilled. Identification of the little ego, with all its weaknesses, Imperfections  and limitations, with the absolute Reality, Perfection. Bliss, Knowledge, is achieved through a constant remembrance of the nature of the Self. When the finite ego gets released from its false notions of limitations, it discovers itself to be nothing other than the Supreme, and in this self-discovery, it experiences complete identification with the Self. Then alone is love entirely fulfilled.

●This process is accomplished through a constant awareness of the Divine in us, which can be maintained only  if we maintain in ourselves an unbroken stream of divine thoughts. So anusandhan when it is unbroken, increases the frequency of divine thoughts in us, and .when the frequency of such thoughts comes to the degree of frequency with which the ego idea now persists in our hearts, we shall be able to experience the Divine as intimately and freely as we experience now our ego-centric life.

Therefore when we re-read the verse with a correct understanding of the practical implication of atma-vichar and the suggestions of bhakti marga, we find that Sankara is only too right when he says that for those who want to walk the path of knowledge and reach the Ultimate, the most efficient technique is bhakti, restated in its correct meaning.


Continuing the definition of bhakti, Sankara quotes some other great writers who had declared before him that true devotion lies in a constant awareness of one's Real Nature. There is a subtle difference between the previous definition and the present. The previous definition prescribes, the path by which devotion is gained, and this one declares love as its own goal. One is said to be devoted to his profession when he is constantly aware of his duties in his profession. A full- time dedicated life towards any actiVity is called, even in
everyday life, as devotion. Examples of devoted Wife, devoted son, devoted husband
, devoted student. etc.. are not uncommon usages in our language.

To live as the Self and to meet others in life, standing upon this solid foundation of the true nature of the Self, is the culmination of knowledge and this is termed by sankara as bhakti. That is, he defines bhaktiboth as the means and the end; love is the means to gain love. The path of the seeker is through love to Love.

In thus hinting at the Glory of devotion, the author continues prescribing other practices necessary for a Vedantic seeker during his evolution. A seeker who has the necessary qualifications, in order that he may be redeemed from his inner weaknesses, attachments. animalisms and false values, is advised to serve with devotion a Teacher who is well-established in the experience of the Self.

We have already the Guru-trick in India I, which has made a credulous society fall so precipitously into the depths



of utter decadence. As without an instructor we cannot learn even a simple thing like opening the door of a car, or typing,
or even the art of eating
, we cannot deny the need of a teacher for instructing us to live intelligently. The difficulty nowadays
is to find the right type of Teacher whom the scriptures call the Guru
. Sankara indicates the qualities of the Guru by the
pregnant expression,
Pragnyam, meaning, one who is established in the intimate experience of the divine Consciousness in himself.

Upasana of the Guru is not a mere servile attendance upon him in an attitude of growing disgust, or in a mood of melancholy dissatisfaction. The disciple, out of sheer love and reverence for the Master, forgets himself and serves him at all times and in all possible ways; thereby the student is made to remember, constantly, the glories and the noble qualities of the Master. This constant mental awareness of the Ideal through the person of the Guru slowly and steadily raises the moral tempo and ethical goodness in the neophyte who finds himself well established in his inner purity which would otherwise have taken him painfully long years to develop.

Again, this sort of "Iove-making" with the Guru, not through the heart and its sentiments, but through the intellect and its idealisation, makes the disciple efficient to set himself in unison with the Master which is essential for the student if he is to really benefit by the Master's original ideas, minted in the seer's own inner experiences. When suggestive words of deep import are given out by a Teacher in his moments of inspiration, the student at once understands the Teacher. It is for this reason that Sankara
is compelled to declare that as a result of Guru upasana, t
he disciple becomes capable of liberating himself from his