Bhakti; Summit of Yoga

Bhakti Notes:
by Vaisesika Dasa

FAQ: Why does it seem that Srila Prabhupada’s translations, word for word renditions and purports all seem to point only to Bhakti?

Answer: Srila Prabhupada’s purpose in presenting the Bhagavad gita As It Is, was to bring out Krsna’s ultimate conclusion of the Gita. This is the meaning of “As It Is.”

Some have speculated that in the Gita Krsna presents many paths and that any one of them is as good as another. However, Krsna clearly presents Bhakti as yoga’s summit even when He explains other processes like Karma Yoga and Dhyana Yoga to Arjuna.

In fact, all such processes are meant to bring one to surrender to the Lord in loving devotional service. The more one advances in devotional service, the more one is considered by Krsna to be advanced in yoga.

At the end of the sixth chapter in which Krsna has explained the arduous process of astanga yoga and meditation, He says:

Yoginam api sarvesam mad-gatenantar-atmana
sraddhavan bhajate yo mam sa me yutatamo matah

“And of all yogis, the one with great faith who always abides in Me, thinks of Me within himself, and renders transcendental loving service to Me- he is the most intimately united with Me in yoga and is the highest of all. That is my opinion.” Bg. 6.47

The root word, “bhaj,” from the word, “bhajate” in this verse is especially used to indicate our eternal loving service to the Supreme. In other words, the highest yogi is the one who has awakened Bhakti.

Again, in chapter eight, Attaining the Supreme, Krsna tells Arjuna about how yogis prepare to leave their bodies by fixing their life airs between their eyebrows, closing their senses to outside perception while uttering Omkara. But, He then tells Arjuna that one who simply thinks of Him, (ananya-cetah satatm . . . Bg. 8.14) and who worships Him in unalloyed Bhakti, devotional service, (bhaktya-labhyas tv ananyaya . . . Bg. 8.22), does not have to attend to all the other processes he has mentioned. Krsna says in the last verse of chapter eight that one who does Bhakti, is not bereft of the results attained by practicing any other path. In other words, one who practices devotional service automatically attains the results of the various other yogic processes. In fact, to the degree that any process contains Bhakti, to that degree it is successful.

Indicating this, Krsna says in the final chapter of Gita, verse 18.55, “Bhaktya mam abhijananti yavan yas casmi tattvatah . . .
“One can understand Me as I am, as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, only by devotional service . . .”

Krsna’s statements about bhakti as the highest quality of spiritual practice pervade the Gita. Just as an expert geologist uncovers diamonds in an ordinary looking field, Srila Prabhupada has brought forth Krsna’s conclusions about Bhakti throughout the Gita.

Those eager to gain a deeper understanding of Krsna’s statements about Bhakti can cross-reference their studies of the Gita with the Srimad Bhagavatam, the natural commentary on the Vendanta Sutras.

For example, in the eleventh canto of the Srimad Bhagavatam, Krsna gives detailed teachings about Bhakti to His great devotee Uddhava. Great devotional scholars relish this section of the Bhagavatam and call it the “Uddhava Gita.” In this dialog, Krsna gives even more details about His preference for Bhakti. For instance, in verse 11.14.20, 21, Krsna tells Uddhava:

na sadhayati mam yogo na sankhyam dharma uddhava
na svadhyayas tapas tyago yatha bhaktir mamorjita

“My dear Uddhava, the unalloyed devotional service rendered to Me by My devotees brings Me under their control. I cannot be thus controlled by those engaged in mystic yoga, Säìkhya philosophy, pious work, Vedic study, austerity or renunciation.”

bhaktyaham ekaya grahyaù sraddhayatma priyaù satam
bhaktiù punati man-niñöha sva-pakan api sambhavat

“Only by practicing unalloyed devotional service with full faith in Me can one obtain Me, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. I am naturally dear to My devotees, who take Me as the only goal of their loving service. By engaging in such pure devotional service, even the dog-eaters can purify themselves from the contamination of their low birth.”

Besides these statements, there are thousands of other references to Bhakti’s supremacy throughout the sastra. A serious student of the vaisnava cannon will come to understand how Srila Prabhupada’s apparent “Bhakti bias” in his translations and purports of the Bhagavad Gita As It Is actually illuminate Krsna’s very purpose for speaking the Gita.

As Krsna says Himself, in verse 18.65 in the final chapter of Bhagavad gita:

“Man mana bhava mad-bhakto . . .

Always think of Me and become my devotee . . .”

Yours in service,
Vaisesika Dasa

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