Part 7 – Supreme Bliss in the path of Bhakti Yog
This article expounds the sweetness of Bhakti Yog in comparison to other paths of spirituality, particularly Gyan Yog. Even the greatest gyani Shankracharya engaged in devotion to God because there is no other way to relish the bliss of Divine Love.
An incredible characteristic of God’s creation is the variety that exists in it, and to cater to varied interests of all people God has mercifully laid down different paths to reach Him. There is the path of karm-kand where rituals prescribed in the Vedas take precedence in devotion, Gyan Yog where the principle is ‘soham’ or in other words the devotees declare their own selves to be God, and the path of Bhakti Yog in which devotees engage in loving devotion to God. People are free to choose their spiritual paths as they like based on their inclinations and interests. But for people who are engaged in Bhakti Yog and are experiencing the bliss of sweet association with the personal form of God, other paths seem absolutely insipid. So Shri Kripaluji Maharaj in His kirtan “jo piya ruchi mahaṁ ruchi rākhē” says
“gyānahum nāhiṁ suhāve rē”.
By Gyan here, he doesn’t mean knowledge, He means the path of Gyan Yog. For spiritual aspirants of Bhakti Yog the principle of Gyan Yog is tasteless and hence they are not interested in its philosophy. These devotees have nothing against followers of other paths and totally respect their choices, there is however nothing in the world for them which could ever be compared with the loving devotion for God. The principle of ‘soham’ in Gyan Yog means “I am the God”, which is certainly utterly unacceptable to devotees of Bhakti Yog. They only accept God as the Supreme Master and themselves as His servants.
While people who follow the path of Gyan Yog do elevate themselves to great heights, they don’t relish the Bliss of Divine Love. The Bliss of Divine Love requires humbling ourselves before God. Therefore the Gyani says “Soham” (I am God), and the devotee says “Dāsoham” (I am the servant of God).
The devotee says:
tvameva mata, cha pita tvameva, tvameva bandusch, cha sakha tvameva, tvameva vidya, dravinam tvameva, tvameva sarvam, mama deva deva
“O Lord, You are my Mother, my Father, my Everything!”
And the Gyani says that he himself is all those things.
svameva mata, cha pita svameva, svameva bandusch, cha sakha svameva, svameva vidya, dravinam svameva, svameva sarvam, swayam deva deva
“I am the Deva-Dev, the Supreme!”
Shankaracharya himself, who propounded Gyan Yog, once went to Kashi and offered his respects to Kashi Vishvanath Bhagawan. At that time, he started crying. He said, “My Lord, I have committed three sins. I have written in my commentaries that Brahm (formless God) is anirvachaniyam or indescribable, and yet I have attempted to describe Him. Secondly, I have explained that God is everywhere, and yet I am coming here to meet You! Thirdly, I have explained that I myself am God, but yet I am offering my obeisance to You!”
It was necessitated by the circumstances prevailing back then that Shankaracharya propounded Gyan Yog philosophy. When he appeared on planet earth, two thousand years ago, India was covered by the Buddhist philosophy which is a 'voidist' philosophy: there is no soul or God; just practice goodness. Therefore Shankaracharya elevated people from there – he brought them back into the Vedas. But he did not emphasize the philosophy of Divine Love, even though Shankaracharya was a great Rasik Saint himself. To elaborate on this point Shri Kripaluji Maharaj has included Shankaracharya’s prayers to Shree Krishna, in the Stuti (homage) section of His kirtan book. Shankaracharya had composed the following prayer in his writing ‘Prabodha Sudhakara’.
yamunā nikata tatasthita, vrindāvana kānane mahāramye,
kalpad-drumatala bhūmau, charanam charano paristhāpya
Inside a very beautiful flowery grove in Vrindavan, by the bank of River Yamuna, Lord Krishna is seated underneath the 'kalpa' (desire-fulfilling) tree, with one leg crossed over the other.
There are many more verses that follow and each of these accentuate how great a devotee Shankaracharya was himself. Thus anyone who ever wishes to taste the bliss of Divine Love, must keep away from Gyan Yog.