Bhakti: Love, Devotion

Bhakti Yoga

The second great principle of the Bhagavad-Gita is the Yoga of bhakti, of devotion, of love for a personal God. “It is a total surrender of the intellect and will to the Infinite Transcendence. It is an experience of personal relationship; the intellect is illuminated by the eternal light and the will transfigured by Infinite Love. This is the experience of the mystics of all religions. …to realize this relationship of knowledge and love in one’s self by total surrender to the divine love is the way of Bhakti. ” (Return To The Center: by Fr. Bede Griffiths, Chap 19. Pg.141-142)

In Chap.7 V 2 of the Gita, The Lord tells Arjuna…”To you I shall explain this knowledge, along with realization, which having been understood, nothing further remains to be known here in this world.” And in Verse 8…”I am the pure fragrance of the earth and the brilliance of the fire, the life in all beings, and the austerity in ascetics.” The Lord goes on to explain himself to Arjuna and Arjuna’s heart desires to know the Lord even more and so he asks in Vs 3 “Thus, as You have described Yourself O Supreme Lord, I desire to see Your Divine form, O Supreme Spirit.” And the sage Jnaneshwar puts it in these words.”O Lord, my mind is eager to see that unfathomable form of which I have heard. Now that You have dispelled my fear, if in Your love for me You were to ask what I wish, then I would say this is my greatest desire; that You should show me Your cosmic form. This is the deepest longing of my heart”

And so the Lord Krishna tells Arjuna in Chap X1 vs.  5 “Behold Arjuna, My forms a hundredfold, a thousandfold, various, Divine and of various colours and shapes.” These forms are infinite in shape and variety, and brilliant with light explains Jnaneshwar, V 12
“If a thousand suns should rise all at once in the sky, such splendour would resemble the splendour of that great Being”. In fact, the spectacle is so dazzling that Arjuna can not endure it and he trembles with fear, prostrates himself and begs Krishna to return to his human form..Vs 45 “show me that form O God in which You originally appeared. Have mercy on me, O Lord of Lords, dwelling in the universe…”  After taking back on his human form, Krishna explains to Arjuna that (vs. 54) “By undistracted devotion alone can I be known, and be truly seen in this form, and be entered into, Arjuna”.

Vs 55, The Lord gives the heart of the teaching of devotion “He who does all work for Me, considers Me as the Supreme, is devoted to Me abandons all attachment, and is free from enmity toward any being, comes to Me.”

In the Gospel of St John 14 Vs 23…Jesus says.” If a man loves Me. He will keep My word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”

In the Gita, the whole of the Chapter 12 goes into many details as to how one can be devoted, in which the mind and heart are used.
The mind fixed on the Lord, (” controlling all the senses, even-minded on all sides, rejoicing in the welfare of all creatures, they also attain Me” (chap 12 vs 4),the heart through offerings, even the simple offering of a flower, of water, offered to the Lord with devotion is taken into consideration.

Arjuna asked the Lord Krishna .”The constantly steadfast devotees who worship You with devotion, and those who worship the eternal unmanifest, which of these has the better knowledge of Yoga?” In other words. those who worship the form or the formless.
Krishna answers….”Those who are eternally steadfast, who worship Me, fixing their minds on Me and are endowed with supreme faith, I consider them to be the most devoted to Me….But He continues…”.
But those who honour the imperishable, the indefinable, the unmanifest, the all pervading and unthinkable, the unchanging, the immovable, the eternal. Controlling all the senses, even-minded on all sides, rejoicing in the welfare of all creatures, they also attain Me.

The trouble of those whose minds are fixed on the unmanifest is greater, for the goal of the unmanifest is attained with difficulty by embodied beings”

In as much as we have this human body, it is difficult to the mind to worship the formless. The human mind wants to have a focus for devotion. Krishna does not say that it is impossible; he only says that it is difficult.

Fr Bede describes …”The God who is experienced in mystical ecstasy is more than personal and can be described in impersonal terms, as Light, Life, Love, Truth, Beauty, Being itself. But this transcendent Mystery of Being is more, not less than personal, and there fore it is misleading to describe it as impersonal.

In the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, the Godhead is One, absolute, infinite, transcendent Mystery of Being beyond word or thought, but within this Being, there is revealed the plenitude of personal being, of wisdom and love, transcending all human conception, but realized in the fullness of personal relationship, more meaningful than any human knowledge and more real than any human love. To realize this relationship of knowledge and love in one’s life by total surrender to the divine love is the way of Bhakti!
”If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him”.
(John 14. 23)
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