Thursday, August 9, 2018

Bhakti is not blind faith. Bhakti is Science.

Bhakti is science boy holds umbrella over Vishnu idol

I do my nitya Puja everyday because it is my family tradition and Puja/ Narayan Seva is my duty as a brahman. But I don't "believe" in Ishvar. I don't feel any "bhakti" while listening to bhajans or attending satsangs or even while doing my Puja - for me it is mechanical - a duty. I don't go to temples, I don't like the crowds and even when I do go I don't feel any "devotion."

I intellectually accept Advaita and Brahmavad as reality, and logically for a very long time have found my answers in uncompromising Advaitavaad and honestly do not see the need for a Saguna or Attribute-full personal God or Ishvara or Bhagvaan - at least haven't needed one for the last 30 years or so of my life. [But who knows what may happen later?]

Having said that let me also clarify that I treat all paths (except desert cults*) as equally valid and unique. But I cannot necessarily relate to Vishisht-advaita or Dvaita, even at a logical level and I don't really have to. Some people say Bhakti is beyond logic and all that. That is stupid. Nothing is beyond logic. The only thing illogical are desert prophets and nonsensical "holy" books**.

So then how does one reconcile this? How does one become a Bhakt? As a complete lay-person and novice, a good clue I received from my teacher was to treat the "Me" of Gita as Atman. For many it may seem obvious, but for me it was a major learning and shift.

Immediately Bhakti makes perfect sense - all those stutis and stotrams suddenly start taking real relatable meaning. Bhakti then becomes experiential Gyan through Yoga. Yoga here means joining of a person and his "Self" and not American style Yoga mat/ pants stretches/ dog pose etc.

So when Krishna says in Chapter 13:

मयि चानन्ययोगेन भक्तिरव्यभिचारिणी । विविक्तदेशसेवित्वमरतिर्जनसंसदि ।। १३.१० ।।

Unflinching devotion and loyalty to Me, the Teacher, who exposes the supreme Truth; the habit of seeking seclusion and finding joy in it; lack of interest in and disinclination to be with crowds...

This chapter apparently heralds the start of Gyana Yoga portion of Gita (13-18) - yet it talks about "unflinching devotion" as the characteristic of a gyani.

A contradiction? Not really. Substituting "Me" with Atman reconciles a lot of issues. Incidentally it also made me realize another self-evident truth - the importance of a guru.

* Desert Cults refer to predatory faiths like Christianity and Islam which have stated expansionist agendas and no tolerance for Hindus who are considered pagans or kafirs and have to be either done away with or converted.
** Stories like resurrection of  Jesus and all that nonsense in Bible/ Koran must be rejected.

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