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(The Philosophical Part)
YOGA OF DEVOTION
WHO IS BETTER - SAGE OR DEVOTEE
Arjuna asked, "Shri Krishna, The Cosmic form you showed me was unworldly and therefore I was frightened. You doubtlessly exist in both forms, the material form and the non-material form without attributes. Devotional path gains one your material form while the path of yoga leads to the non-material form. These are the two paths to attain you which lead to the threshold of the respective forms. (12:21-24). Shri Krishna, please tell me whether the Cosmic form you showed me was your real form or just a play. (12:28).
All actions of your devotees are for your sake. To them, nothing else is superior other than you. They have surrendered all their desires and thoughts only to the devotion to you. The sages treasure your form in their heart and serve you. And the thing which is beyond the syllable AUM is indescribable, which is unlike anything else, is indestructible, not felt by the senses, which cannot be shown and not bound by space or time, on which people meditate with the feeling "I am Brahman". Please tell me who out of the two, the sage (man of knowledge) or the devotee really attains knowledge? (12:29-33).
DEVOTEE IS A SUPERIOR YOGI
Shri Krishna replied, "The devotees whose faith steadily increases with devotion like a river rising during the rainy season pushed by the strength of the past achievement, in whose heart love upsurges, those who concentrate their attention on me day and night and offer themselves completely to me are the ones I consider as superior yogi. (12:36-39).
YOGA PATH INVOLVES MORE LABOURS
"Arjuna, besides, many seekers endeavour to realise the formless and indestructible Brahman with the attitude of "I am Brahman". (12:40). Restraining the organs courageously and with detachment they eliminate the sense pleasures and then by means of yogic postures and through Kundalini force attain Brahman. Thus, by adopting a balanced attitudeto everything and everybody, they follow the difficult path of yoga, and sacrificing their ego they gain the indescribable Brahman. (12:47-48, 50-57). But after all these efforts they also attain only me. Thus they do not gain anything special from yoga other than more labours. (12:58-59).
"Those who hope to attain the indescribable Brahman without devotion are impeded in their path by positions in heaven and the lure of Riddhi and Siddhis. They have to face the disturbances from desire, anger etc. They have to suppress hunger and thirst, face the elements like wind and sun. To seek happiness in restraint, make friendship with some tree, surround oneself with chill, cover oneself by hot sun, and sit in the rain is like a Sati burning herself on a funeral pyre without the husband's body on it. (12:60-66). Those who followed this path of yoga got only a share of sufferings. (12:69). A person cannot attain the formless while they have their body. Those who strive with intense desire for the Attributeless in spite of all this suffer great pains. Those who follow the path of devotion do not have to undergo these sufferings. (12:73-75).
A DEVOTEE OFFERS EVERYTHING TO ME
The devotees perform their duties happily as prescribed for his caste and avoid actions which are prohibited. They then burn the fruits of these actions by offering them to me. Their mental and physical tendencies do not go anywhere except towards me. By such ceaseless worship they have become my place of abode through meditation. They lovingly indulge only with me forsaking both pleasures and liberation and with unexceptionable devotion sacrifice their body, mind and wealth at my feet. Is it possible to describe such devotees with mere words? Arjuna, I am obliged to satisfy all their wishes. (12:76-82)
I LOVE MY DEVOTEES
My devotees are dear to me the way they are, like a child to its mother. And I have undertaken to take care of their problems of strife and life. And why should my devotees worry about the worldly problems? These devotees are like my family members therefore is it not my obligation to save them from difficulties? I feel embarrassed when I see that this world is in the throes of life and death. Who will not get frightened by this ocean of earthly life he has to cross? I take Avatar and rush to my devotees lest they get frightened. I became a saviour to them through the means of the raft of my thousand names. I set for meditation those who are single and unencumbered while set those who have a family on the boat of my names. I tie the lifebelt of love to some devotees and bring them to the shore of liberation. But those who call themselves my devotees, even if they be animals, I make them worthy of occupying a place in my kingdom in Vaikuntha. Therefore my devotees do not worry at all because I am ever ready to save them. I became obsessed with my devotees as soon as they surrendered their mind and consciousness to me. Therefore Arjuna, you should follow this singular Bhakti path to become a superior devotee. (12:86-96).
VARIOUS WAYS OF ATTAINING DEVOTION
Arjuna, concentrate determinedly your mind and intellect in my form and if you enter my inner part by doing so then you will attain me. Because, if your mind and intellect remain steady in me then what difference can remain between you and me? (12:96-99). Ego automatically accompanies mind and intellect therefore let mind and body be concentrated in my form and let it be steady there. You will thus attain my all-pervading form. I am swearing by this unexceptionable statement. (12:101-103).
Abhyasayoga: And if you are not able to give your undivided attention along with your mind and intellect to me then do thus. During the entire day, turn your mind to me once at least for a moment. At the very instant your mind enjoys the bliss of the experience of my contact at that moment a dislike for the sense pleasures will be created in your mind and it will slowly come out of the worldly matters. (12:104-107). Then slowly and steadily it will enter in me until it becomes one with me. This is what is called Abhyasayoga or Yoga of practice. There is nothing that cannot be obtained by it. Nothing is difficult if one adopts this yoga of practice. Therefore be one with me by adopting this yoga. (12:108- 113).
If you do not have the strength to adopt this yoga of practice then remain as you are. Do not control your sense organs, do not leave your pleasures and do not give up your pride also. Obey the family traditions and the rules of law. You are thus free to behave in this manner but see that whatever you may do or decide to do or say do not claim "I did it". Because only the almighty God knows whether something may be done or not. Without bringing into the mind the thought that the action is complete or incomplete be one with the Self. Giving up the pride of being the doer, do not load your mind with thoughts of worldly actions or spiritual actions. Always steady your concentration on me and whatever happens make an offering of it to me. And if your attitude becomes like this then you will be liberated after your death. (12:114-124)
Become desireless: And Arjuna, if you are not able to perform actions for my sake then just be devoted to me. If you find it difficult to offer me your action before resolving to do or after, before completing it or after, then do not bother about it and you need not even long for me. But let your intellect be awake to the restraining of the organs and even as the actions take place abandon the desire for the fruits of those actions. Just as trees and creepers shed their fruits you too should renounce the fruits of completed actions. Let there not be even a feeling that I should be remembered or the actions should be performed for me. Let these feelings along with the fruits of action vanish into nothingness. (12:125-130). Arjuna, you must become desireless regarding all your actions. This sacrifice of the actions may appear to be easy but it is the greatest among all the Yogas. The actions which are nullified by surrender do not accumulate and one does not have to take rebirth after death. (12:132-136).
By practice one can get knowledge, by knowledge one gains meditation, and once one is engrossed in meditation, actions (karmas) go away. Once actions go away then the fruits are automatically surrendered and one gets uninterrupted peace. Thus this step by step method of practice is the method to achieve peace. (12:137-140).
Arjuna, Knowledge is superior to practice and meditation is superior to knowledge and renouncing the fruits of actions is superior to meditation and the peace is superior to renunciation of fruits of actions. These are the successive steps in this path which lead to peace or bliss of the Brahman. (12:141-143)
WHAT A DEVOTEE IS LIKE
Just as consciousness does not differentiate between "mine" and "yours" my true devotee does not possess the feeling of hatred for any creature. (12:144). He is equally friendly to all and like a loving nursemaid he takes care of them. Egotistic or possessive feelings do not occur in his mind and he is not even conscious of the feelings of pleasure or sorrow. He possesses forgiveness like mother earth and bliss is always apparent in him. (12:148-150).
Just as ocean is always full whether it rains or not, he is happy without external aids. He restrains his mind with staunch and true determination. In his heart he and the supreme Soul have become one. He who is thus enriched by the wealth of yoga surrenders his mind and intellect in me and having been purified internally and externally by it, is devoted to me with love, is the devotee, the liberated one, the yogi and I like him as a husband likes his wife. (12:151-156). I love him like my own life but even this simile is inadequate. The love for a person is like an enchanting mantra. It is not something which can be expressed in words but I am compelled to tell you because of your faith. And that is why I gave the simile of husband and wife, otherwise how else is it possible to express this love? (12:157-159).
THE DEVOTEE I LOVE
Now listen to the characteristics of the devotee for whom I keep a place in my heart. (12:164)
He is not offended by the rudeness of this world, and others too are not embarrassed by him. He feels that he is the life of all creatures, therefore he is not fed up with them. He thinks of the world as his own body, and therefore thoughts of likes and dislikes vanish from his mind. Thus, since dwaita or the sense of being different from the universe disappears, and feelings of glee and anger vanish. Oh! How I love him who having been thus liberated from feelings of happiness and pain, fear and sorrow, worships me! He is fully satiated with the bliss of the Self and has reached perfection. He is free of all desires and his happiness is ever increasing. (12:166-172)
Liberated while living: One can easily attain liberation in Kashi but it is necessary to die there. Visit to the Himalaya mountains atones one’s sins but one's life is in danger there. On the other hand the holiness of saints is not so dangerous. Ganges water is holy and washes the conscience-pricking sins but one is likely to get drowned there. The knowledge of the saints is deep like the Ganges and is difficult to fathom but a devotee does not get drowned in his company. On the contrary he gets liberated while still living. How holy must be the company of a saint by whose touch even Ganges gets rid of her sins. Such a saint becomes by his holiness the shelter of even holy places and causes the bad thoughts from a person's mind to vanish. He is pure like the sun from inside out and experiences the principle of the Brahman. His mind is all-pervading but unconcerned about everything. He is always happy and nothing bothers him. He never carries an ego when he does any action. Just as fire gets extinguished without fuel he becomes possessed of peace and is a marked for liberation. Thus such person filled with the feeling of "I am Brahman" goes beyond dualism. But for the sake of the bliss he gets from devotion, he splits himself into two, calling one the devotee and the other as God and thus sets an example of the right path of devotion to non- devotees. I am obsessed with only such devotees who becomes the object for me to meditate upon. I feel happy when I meet him. I take birth as Avatar for him and come in this world. I like him so much that I sacrifice my life for him. (12:173-189)
He likes nothing as much as Self realisation and therefore he does not get pleasure from any kind of physical enjoyment. Having realised that he himself is the universe the feeling of duality has gone from his mind and so has the hatred. Believing firmly that his real self will never get destroyed, he never rues death. And since he himself has become Brahman beyond which there is nothing, he does not desire anything. He does not have feelings like "This is good" and "That is bad." Thus even after having attained the ceaseless Brahman he remains my devotee. I state on oath that no other person is closer to me than such a person. (12:190-196).
Arjuna, he does not carry an iota of feeling of differentiation between people and he considers an enemy and a friend on equal footing. Honour and insult, hot and cold are same to him. He remains undisturbed by happiness or sorrow. He treats all creature in the same way. He is liked by people in all the three worlds. Such a devotee, leaving totally the sense pleasures and desires and by remaining in seclusion, lives by steadying his consciousness in the Self. He is does not feel discouraged by slander nor elated by praise. He goes around keeping equal attitude towards both and behaves accordingly. Without uttering truth or untruth he observes silence enjoying the mindless Brahmic state from which he does not come back. He never takes shelter anywhere and considers the whole world as his place of rest. He is certain that the entire universe is his home. Furthermore, even after becoming the entire universe himself, he is eager for being devoted to me. Therefore I hold him on my head like a crown. Anybody would bow before a superior person but before such a devotee the whole world prostrates. Only a true Guru like Lord Shiva can explain this respect towards devotion, but praising Lord Shiva is like praising Myself. (12:207-216). Even after reaching the goal of the fourth duty i.e. the liberation, my devotee continues to follow the path of devotion and sets an example to the world. He is entitled to the liberation and decides who should be accorded the liberation and who should not be and even then he is very humble. And it is because of this that I bow to him and wear his footmarks on my chest. In order to gain the bliss of his companionship I who am formless had to take Avatar. There is no comparison with the extent to which I like him. I also like extremely those who listen to his life story and praise him. Arjuna, what I have told you is the yoga of devotion. Its greatness is such that I personally love such devotee and hold him in my mind and carry him on my head. (12:219-229)
I ALSO LIKE THOSE WHO TELL ABOUT DEVOTEES
Arjuna, in this world, I consider those as my devotees and yogis who, after listening to the interesting narrative (about this yoga) which is like a shower of immortalising nectar, experience it themselves, and in whom it grows by virtue of their faith and by becoming firm in the heart makes them practice it, and who, even when they get beneficial fruits due to their minds being in proper state as explained earlier (like seeds sown in a fertile field), love me and consider that I alone am their ultimate goal and their all in all. Therefore Arjuna, I am always concerned about them. Those who have a liking for the stories of God are themselves the holy places and holy persons. I meditate on them. They are my deity to be worshipped and I do not like any other persons. I am obsessed by them, they are my treasure and I feel satisfied only by meeting them. But Arjuna, I consider as the highest deity those who narrate the stories about my loving devotees. (12:230-239).
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Last update: 2004-OCT-09