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Thread: I don't get Bhakti

  1. #1
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    I don't get Bhakti

    Namaste

    If I am honest I do not really understand the concept of Bhakti that institutions like ISKCON teach. I have tried to feel that level of devotion towards Shiva and Shakti but I it just doesn't seem to come to me. I've tried feeling it for Krishna and Radharani but I've never really felt drawn to Krishna...

    When I see people at satangs crying tears of joy as we sing kirtans I am amazed that a person can feel such devotion. This is not to say that I am not devoted but my devotion manifests itself as a thirst for knowledge. The more I learn the closer I feel to God.

    I know that jnana marga is indeed a path but in the modern day it seems the bhakti is stressed as the be all and end all even if you don't really... feel it.

    Has anyone else had trouble getting their heads around bhakti?

  2. #2

    Re: I don't get Bhakti

    Namaste Devine Kala,

    The way I have come to see it is that Bhakti, is one level of understanding drawn from text and scripture and mantras, our resonance with god, this by passes the questioning and goes straight to the emotional heart.

    Jnana brings with it a different level of understanding of the same text, this is the amazing thing about the language of the text and the forms of the words them selves. By simple statistics jnana yoga is a lonelier path as their are fewer who tread it. It leads to the same level of devotion as Bhakti but the vision is not quite the same.

    Continue on the path of knowledge you will find what you seek, those who take to bhakti, do not have the same needs as you do. But you must find resonance in the scriptures to advance also, it may be that you have not found the avatar with which you are in harmony at the moment. I always recommend Ganesha at this crossroads as he does such a fine job of clearing away those obstacles that are blocking you. He does for me.

    I should venture if I might be so bold that your head is some what stronger than your heart at this time, which is not a bad thing; this will push you to learn. So you may be lacking certain knowledge that you need to proceed; again Ganesha will help you study.

    These are as I'm sure that you know, only my thoughts and reflections. Please, I hope that you don't take them the wrong way.

    I am a struggling student myself, I offer you my heart felt encouragment on your path to the divine.

    praNAma

    mana

    Aum Shri Ganeshaya Namah ...

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    Re: I don't get Bhakti

    Namast,

    A wonderful answer from Mana; I will see if I may add anything.

    At first, I too felt amazement that others were brought to tears and to other expressions of extraordinary bhakti, simply by songs and contemplation upon form(s) of God, and for myself, I wondered if there was something wrong with me, that I did not experience such strong feeling.

    Then I realised that human loves, devotions, and strong dedications do not spring up overnight; sometimes, our fiercest alliances take years to forge. When I stopped trying to force this relationship to form, it grew naturally.

    It is my thinking that describing jāna simply as 'knowledge' and bhakti only as 'devotion' is a little limiting, because these two words encompass far more than that, and often flow into each other's paths. Bhakti is not just tear-jerking love, I think, but all positive, Divine-inspired up-wellings of the heart: ecstasy, wonder, awe, amazement, joy, bliss. These certainly may be tasted, when one discovers new knowledge about one's beloved Deva(s)! Just because you are not sobbing when you discover something new about Shiva and Shakti, does not mean you lack bhakti or that you don't understand it, but perhaps that you feel it in a less overwhelming way and/or that it takes a lesser role in your sadhana than jāna. All of this is fine.

    Bhakti over jāna is stressed in this modern time, I think, partly because jāna is a difficult path with many potential pitfalls - the worship of knowledge for its own sake, the collection of facts, the ego of accumulating more information or of feeling 'right' and 'superior' to others, these are just some of the dangers I may list. Bhakti is also suitable for people at different levels of intellectual understanding and capability, so there's a feeling of human equality to it, which is sorely needed in this Age.

    If you want the sort of bhakti that you have witnessed, give it patience and prayer and time; ask Beloved to open the flower that already nestles as a bud within the heart. But, just as there is no mandate to decide upon one yogic path alone for the rest of your life, there is also no requirement to follow only one path against your temperament or inclination.

    Indraneela
    ===
    Oṁ Indrāya Namaḥ.
    Oṁ Namaḥ Śivāya.

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    Re: I don't get Bhakti

    Quote Originally Posted by Indraneela View Post
    Then I realised that human loves, devotions, and strong dedications do not spring up overnight; sometimes, our fiercest alliances take years to forge. When I stopped trying to force this relationship to form, it grew naturally.
    Vannakkam DK et al: The above portion from a portion pretty much sums up my take on it. I've never tried to develop bhakti. It just happened. You can put yourself into situations that may be conducive to it, but that's like going to a restaurant that has good reviews. It doesn't mean that you necessarily will enjoy the food.

    I have a much different take on jnana yoga though. For me it has nothing to do with books. My interpretation is that jnana actually means knowledge that comes from within, not from without. Knowledge from experience, from direct cognition, from intuition, from observation, from insightful meditation. I see book learning beyond the basics as actually a barrier to bhakti. Some people might say it is akin to the person who overanalyses everything, hence misses out on stuff. Movies have been made on this theme.

    This has been from observation. Some of the deepest bhakti seems to come from the simplest folk. In India little old illiterate ladies can sing Tamil hymns to God that would render anyone's heart to smithereens. The extreme contrast is the intellectual western trained professor who stands with arms crossed (body language of intellect/ego) just watching all the bhakti nutcases like me trying to figure out why we're prostrating. You can practically see the whirling thoughts of doubt from the confused look.

    This probably doesn't help, but ...

    Then there is the rare person that has it all. A super keen intellect, amazing understanding of scripture, tons of knowledge from within, and real tearing bhakti.

    Aum Namasivaya

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    Re: I don't get Bhakti

    hari o
    ~~~~~~

    namasté


    Bhakti is a very refined level of behavior that unfolds. It unfolds from the maturity of the heart, it swells until nothing but that which one is devoted to becomes one's full and complete attention.


    I ask the HDF reader to consider the following. For this devotion to take hold there are some pre-requistes that need to be in place so this complete swelling of the heart unfolds.

    Where can we look for guidence ? All we need to do is look for a great authority and I yield to the bhāgavad gītā and kṛṣṇa-ji. If one looks at the teaching given to arjuna , there is a pace, a strategy that kṛṣṇa-ji offers.
    First he teaches arjuna about the nature of reality, on proper right action, on being established in yoga; on who really acts and who does not. He teaches on brahman, on yoga and skill in action. Upon knowing this (arjun) you will no more fall into delusion says kṛṣṇa-ji in chapter 4, 35th śloka. He continues his instructions in chapters 5 and 6.

    He is preparing arjuna for Divine Union. This 1st must be put in place for devotion ( bhaki) to fully bloom. You see, devotion is a real thing, a real experience. It is not mood making. It is not pretending 'as if' you know the Lord, but as the only reality you know . Then one's devotion swells and is possible.

    If we look to chapter 6 of the bhāgavad gītā kṛṣṇa-ji begins to lay the foundation for God Consciousness, God Realization. Prior to this the foundation being constructed is that of Self-realization. The principle is simple - how can I know the Lord if I do not even know mySelf!

    My teacher has told us that God-consciousness is the most highly developed state of silence - the silence of the Self (ātman). Thus in chapter 6 the foundation begins for devotion, yet is talked about as being 'united' . Kṛṣṇa-ji says in chapter 6, 47th śloka , of all yogi's I hold him most united who worships me with faith, his inner most Self absorbed in Me.

    This is the point I wish reader to kindly consider... this is the pre-requiste (his inner most Self absorbed in Me) for a fully bloomed devotional being - the person first needs to be established in the Self so they can be absorbed in union with the Divine.

    If one starts with devotion, where is the foundation that it is built upon ? If it is not there then one begins mood making.

    So am I saying one should be devoid of devotion ? No. Reverence is very useful and uplifting. Yet one would be wise to also consider other ingredients to unfold devotion: one's will (icchā) + faith (śraddhā) which enables kratu¹.

    Ādi śaṅkara's definition of this kratu is much stronger then just resolution. He defines it as , 'that this is so, not otherwise'. This notion that 'this is so…' is one of resolute will and firm faith, but in what?
    Of what one will become in a future condition. Of what one wants to become, to unfold to , over time. For the sādhu, it is the condition of mokṣa, or bhakti, or that of yoga. That is, pursuing ones spiritual status, while here on this earth.

    praām

    words
    kratu क्रतु - resolve, determination, purpose; kratu as intelligence personified as a son of brahmā and one of the prajāpatis or the seven (sometimes ten) principal ṛṣi-s
    Last edited by yajvan; 12 December 2011 at 01:03 PM.
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

  6. #6
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    Re: I don't get Bhakti

    hariḥ o
    ~~~~~~

    namasté

    I wrote,
    Bhakti is a very refined level of behavior that unfolds. It unfolds from the maturity of the heart, it swells until nothing but that which one is devoted to becomes one's full and complete attention

    If you talk of the full bloom of devotion yajvan , that it comes with the complete Self absorbed in the Supreme, where then is just the bud ? Where is the beginning shoot of this devotion ? Where does one begin to make it grow ?

    Śrī siddharameśvara maharāj¹ offers us some ideas on devotion called navavidha bhakti - 9 fold or facets of devotion.

    For each level of devotion there is an entry level and there is the profound level when this devotion is in full bloom. I will comment on some of these in the next post if there is interest.

    navavidha bhakti limbs


    • śravaṇa - listening; 'that which is heard' = śruti or listening. The simplest of devotion, listening attentively to right knowledge.
    • kīrtana ( some write kirtan ) - singing the praises of the Supreme , hence this is called kīrtana bhajana.
      • kīrtana is defined as repeating , saying + bhajana = reverence , worship , adoration (and is also sharing)
    • smṛti - is remembering , reminiscence , thinking upon. Hence the remembering of the Supreme
    • sevā ( some may call upāsana) - service or attendance - this is the service to the guru and some say to the will of the Supreme
    • arcana ( also can be called upāsana) - honoring or praising;
      • if we use the term upāsana this too means homage , adoration , worship .
        • Some say this comes in 5 parts or components : abhigamana or approach , upādāna or preparation of offering , ijyā or oblation , svādhyāya or recitation , and yoga or union
    • praṇāma ( some call vandana) - bowing down in reverence; respectful salutation , prostration , obeisance
    • dāsya - service; being available for the guru or the Supreme
    • maitraka , maitrī or sakhitā - friendship to the Supreme; a most noble relationship.
    • ātma-samārpaṇam kāra ( some may call ātma-nivedana) - to surrender to one's Self; to live in one's svadharma¹ i.e.
      to live in one's true nature .
    praām

    words
    Last edited by yajvan; 12 December 2011 at 01:12 PM.
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

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    Re: I don't get Bhakti

    Everyone has posted the most wonderful words of advice, so now I come to add the fools.

    As stated above, the more service one does...the more we shed these outter layers...the more the Truth becomes evident.

    I sat down today as I became overwhelmed by that Tremendous Love. Instead of just going with it and becoming lost, (or found depending upon your view ) I dissected it.


    It was the overwhelming Truth which brought such a state of Love.

    Knowing Beloved is seated here..seated everywhere.

    Sadhana, and caring for your family, animals...strangers...all of these things bring you more into this warmth of Truth.

    Just as my Jade plant often begins to fade if it is not placed fully in the sun light....the more sun(Truth) the more it will blossom into its fully destined state.

    Each of us has to cultivate this Light within our own space.

    Wonderful things will blossom in time<3

  8. #8

    Re: I don't get Bhakti

    This may sound odd, but for me Bhakti is really the clincher, the final explainer of Reality. If true love in the highest possible sense is not real, if devotion is false, then reality does not make any sense. Reality then just becomes a topsy-turvy kaleidoscope of messed up despair.

    The kaleidoscope still exists, in all of samsara's painful variety, but what makes it worthwhile, what puts the stamp of approval on this material universe, and what sustains and loves it endlessly, is the fact of God's prashadam, his grace, and so on. If that is false, and if humanity's exemplars' response to this is false (Chaitanya, the great visionary spiritualists, the Alvars, etc), then literally nothing makes sense to me any more.
    How can I put this in a sentence? Try next time.

  9. #9
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    Re: I don't get Bhakti

    I tend to agree with Kismet. After a certain point debate, logic and dialectics are pointless. If one takes the trouble of being a theist, I can certainly understand the need for an additional belief in a loving God that listens to our prayers and bestows grace.

    Whether that particular deity or personal God exists or not is besides the point, IMO.

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    Re: I don't get Bhakti

    hariḥ o
    ~~~~~~

    namast&#233;


    Quote Originally Posted by yajvan View Post

    navavidha bhakti limbs


    • śravaṇa - listening; 'that which is heard' = śruti or listening. The simplest of devotion, listening attentively to right knowledge.
    • kīrtana ( some write kirtan ) - singing the praises of the Supreme , hence this is called kīrtana bhajana.
      • kīrtana is defined as repeating , saying + bhajana = reverence , worship , adoration (and is also sharing)
    • smṛti - is remembering , reminiscence , thinking upon. Hence the remembering of the Supreme
    • sevā ( some may call upāsana) - service or attendance - this is the service to the guru and some say to the will of the Supreme
    • arcana ( also can be called upāsana) - honoring or praising;
      • if we use the term upāsana this too means homage , adoration , worship .
        • Some say this comes in 5 parts or components : abhigamana or approach , upādāna or preparation of offering , ijyā or oblation , svādhyāya or recitation , and yoga or union
    • praṇāma ( some call vandana) - bowing down in reverence; respectful salutation , prostration , obeisance
    • dāsya - service; being available for the guru or the Supreme
    • maitraka , maitrī or sakhitā - friendship to the Supreme; a most noble relationship.
    • ātma-samārpaṇam kāra ( some may call ātma-nivedana) - to surrender to one's Self; to live in one's svadharma&#185; i.e.
      to live in one's true nature.
    It is interesting to note that there can be devotion with desires attached. Dearest Lord if you do this for me, I will then be devoted to you. I will bow to you daily if you just do this for me.

    This devotion is the love of the shop keeper. The shop keeper is quite happy with their customers when they continue to frequent their store and buy products - it makes the shop keeper wealthy. Yet when the customer buys no more, then there are ill words directed towards them.
    This devotion makes one a begger - this is beneath the dignity of devotion. It turns the worship into a transaction.


    How does this thinking come about ? One thinks the Supreme is so vast, so big, so magnanimous, how could he not spare blessings and benefit on me, to lift me up with material goods, for my betterment. I am so small and He is so great - why would he not give to me, just a small small person on this earth.

    The wise tell us the following...
    data eka rāmā bhikāri sari duniyā- the giver is the one rāma, the world is a beggar.

    The one that does not demand anything is the giver of all...Śrī siddharameśvara maharāj

    What can maharāj-ji be telling us ?


    praām

    words
    Last edited by yajvan; 21 December 2011 at 08:55 PM.
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

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