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Bhakti is not just a choice of the head – it is also the calling of the heart

Friday, 08 November 2019 / Published in Articles / 4,056 views

By Chaitanya Charan Das

Suppose we are driving to some destination and come to a fork. If we are unsure about which way to go, we will move slowly or not move at all. But even if we are sure, that conviction alone will not take us ahead – we need to drive ahead.

A similar dynamic applies to our spiritual practice. Spiritual growth is essentially a journey of the heart from worldly objects to Krishna. Such a journey requires philosophical conviction. When we have to choose between some worldly object and Krishna, we may feel indecisive. The Bhagavad-gita is like a map, a guidebook to happiness. By studying it, we understand that Krishna is the source of everything (10.08) – thus, he is the source of the attractiveness of all worldly objects, including the one that is presently attracting us (10.41). So, by becoming devoted to him, we won’t lose the pleasure coming from that object; we will access the source of that pleasure and relish joy in its fullness.

When we thus understand Krishna’s all-attractiveness, we feel convinced to choose him. But that conviction alone doesn’t take us to him – it aids us in redirecting our heart towards him and cultivating attraction for him. By practicing bhakti-yoga and investing whatever devotional emotion we have in Krishna, we gradually sense his reciprocation in the form of satisfaction and purification. This inspires us to further invest our emotion in him, thereby relishing his greater reciprocation.

The resulting redirection of heart culminates in life’s ultimate perfection: the ecstasy of endless love. Progress towards this perfection is facilitated by the choice of the head, but is executed by the calling of the heart, the calling that unites the human heart with the divine heart in a bond of eternal love.

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2 Responses to “Bhakti is not just a choice of the head – it is also the calling of the heart”

  1. Somayaji says :

    Hare Krsna.

    I am noticing a disturbing trend in ISKCON that this article reminded me of, where emphasis is given to emotions, feelings, compassion, etc. and in this case the heart. And, where logic, discrimination and philosophical reasoning based on sastra are side stepped, not valued, minimized or made secondary.

    While I certainly agree that bhakti is a matter of the heart but before opening our heart we should use our brain first to see if what we are opening our heart to is actually bhakti and not something disguised as bhakti.

    Especially in Gaudiya Vaisnavism there are many apasampradayas that appeal to those who don’t use their head first or don’t have one in the first place.

    So called Bhakti based on the heart but not on sastra is a disturbance in society.

    sruti-smrti-puranadi-
    pancaratra-vidhim vina
    aikantiki harer bhaktir
    utpatayaiva kalpate

    “If one wants to demonstrate his great devotion to the Supreme Lord but his process of devotional service violates the standard rules of revealed scriptures such as sruti, smrti, Puranas and Narada-pancaratra, then his alleged love of Godhead will simply disturb society by misleading people from the auspicious path of spiritual advancement.” (Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu 1.2.101)

    continued

  2. Somayaji says :

    part 2

    Srila Prabhupada further commented on this verse thusly:

    “So many rascals are causing a disturbance in society by posing that they have understood God without reference to the Vedic literature, the revealed scriptures. These include the sruti, such as the four Vedas and the Upanisads, the smrti, such as the Bhagavad-gita, the Puranas, such as the Srimad-Bhagavatam, and the pancaratras, such as the Narada-pancaratra. To understand God is a great science. How can you ignore the authorized books of knowledge and manufacture a process for knowing God?

    “Therefore any religion without a scientific, philosophical understanding of God is simply sentiment. It is not religion. And philosophy without religion is simply mental speculation.” Dharma: The Way of Transcendence ch 15.

    And Chanakya Pandit said:

    “A Brahmana sees through the sastra (sastra chaksusa) a king through his spies, a cow through it nose (to determine what is eatable) and an ordinary (wo)man through their eyes.”

    SENTIMENTALITY IS NOT BHAKTI:

    “So Bhagavata begins with this word of Vedanta-sutra, janmady asya yatah anvayad itaratas ca arthesu abhijnah svarat. So it is the, in the beginning, Srimad-Bhagavatam is the explanation of the Vedanta-sutra. Srila Jiva Gosvami has recommended, therefore, one should learn Bhagavatam from a person who knows Vedanta-sutra. Sruti-grhitaya, bhaktya sruti-grhitaya. Bhakti should be generated, sruti-grhitaya, by studying Vedanta-sutra. Bhakti is not sentiment. Bhakti is the transcendental science.” Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.10.1 – Mayapura, June 16, 1973

    “Seva mean there is a sevaka and there is a master, sevya, one who is worshiped and one who serves. Then the process is called bhakti. Here it is also said, bhaktya. What kind of bhakti? Bhaktya sruta-grhitaya. Sruta, by hearing sruti, or Vedas. Completely on the basis of Vedic knowledge, that bhakti, not sentimental. Sentimental bhakti is also there, because the acceptance of Krsna is there. Therefore there is some value. But real bhakti, Sri Jiva Gosvami has commented that bhakti based on understanding of Vedanta-sutra is perfect, on the basis of jnana, knowledge, and vairagya. That is… And Krsna has also said, brahma-sutra-padais caiva hetumadbhir viniscitaih [Bg. 13.5]. Brahma-sutra means Vedanta-sutra.” Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.12 – Delhi, November 18, 1973

    So as soon as a I read articles that stress sentimentality I am reminded of the warnings given above by Srila Prabhupada. Remember first check with your brain before opening your heart to avoid destroying your devotional creeper.

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