Author Topic: The Unity of bhakti and Jnana  (Read 1532 times)


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The Unity of bhakti and Jnana
« on: January 07, 2009, 01:32:16 PM »
The Chapter 53 of Guru Vachaka Kovai, describes the unity between
bhakti and Jnana.

Verse 722: When you investigate you find that both parabhakti (supreme
devotion) and Jnana are identical in revealing Swarupa, the Self.
To claim that, out of these two, one is but the means to the other is
due to not knowing the real nature of either.

Muruganar: Since parabhakti is only the loss of the ego, this state is
indeed Jnana-Swarupa.

Bhagavan: To remain, through the power of contemplation in the state
of pure being, beyond thought, is the essential nature of supreme bhakti.
(Upadesa Saram Verse 9)

Verse 723: Having considered the qualifications of their disciples, even
those Jnanis who know (that bhakti and Jnana are one) single out
one as superior to other.  This is to prevent those who have been
pursuing the practice of one as preferable to the other from abandoning
that one and hankering after the other.

Since we do not know what is passing thoruhg the minds of devotees,
as they sit or stand in Bhagavan's presence, we cannot really ever be
sure that we understand who Bhagavan responds to them in the way
He does.

His attitude towards giving out teachings illustrates this very well.
A lot people are under the impression that Bhagavan talked advaitic
philosphy all th time and prescribed self enquiry to everyone who asked
for his advice.  This is simply not so. Bhagavan gave different advice to
different people. He would see their level of development and temperament and react accordingly.  One devotee might ask a question
and be given an answer.  If another devotee asked the same question
a few minutes later, He might give a different answer, so different in fact that it would contradict the first one.  If each of these devotees acted on
Bhagavan's advice, with full faith in its efficacy, each would find that
Bhagavan's Grace was flowing into him.

I can give a good illustration of Bhagavan's giving out contradictory
advice by recounting two incidents that happened in the hall.  A blind
devotee called Kannappa once came to Bhagavan. 

While talking about this Kannappa, Bhagavan remarked:  "Those who
listen to his singing will forget the difference between day and night."

"Then why does he not sing?" I asked.

Kannappa then sang some songs from the Tiruppugazh of Arunagirinathar. His singing was very sweet and his devotion brought
tears to our eyes.  We completely forgot ourselves.  Soon afterwards
the bell rang for lunch. Bhagavan got up and rubbed his knees.  Before
he had a chance to leave, I told him how impressed I had been with the

"How beautifully he sang? What melody and what devotion!" I said.

"Not only that, he can imitate anyone," said Bhagavan, as He was crossing the hall.

Before He left, He turned back towards me and added, "Yes, he sang
beautifully.  But what is it to us?  If we get immersed in that devotion
we will be carried away.  Then it will be difficult for us to get out of it."

On another occasion the famous singer Sri Dilip Kumar Roy, came from
Pondicherry and sang beautifully before Bhagavan.

When the bell rang for lunch, Sri Roy put down his instrument, put
his palms together in a gesture of respect and said to Bhagavan,
"I do not practise any yoga, nor do I know any philosophy.  All I
know is singing.  My heart and my emotions have merged in this music.
I want to reach God's feet by following this path. Do I have any hope?
All I have is a little devotion, and that too I get only through singing."

Bhagavan replied: "Yes, it is enough.  It will take you to higher levels."

When I translated these words for Sri Roy, he felt so buoyed up by
them, he touched Bhagavan's feet again and again.

After he had left the hall, Bhagavan turned towards me and said:
"Bhakti  is the mother of Jnana. Tell him that."

I called to Roy and translated this additional remark for him. It
pleased him so much, he again repeatedly touched Bhagavan's feet.

In Kannappa's case, Sri Bhagavan cautioned us against devotional
emotion, whereas in Roy's case, he said that bhakti was enough.
Bhagavan had the ability to discern which path would benefit each
devotee. He would encourage us all to follow the path He knew would
be easiest for us, and in the process He would occasionally discourage
us from digressing into other forms of sadhana.

(Source:  My Reminiscences. Devaraja Mudaliar. Guru Vachaka Kovai,
Tamil Verses, Muruganar. Tr. and Commentary by David Godman,
Avadhuta Foundation, Boulder, Colorado. USA.)

Arunachala Siva.