A Bird's Eye View of the Uddhava Gita

Author - This supplement deals  with certain issues raised in the feedback received for the captioned article.  They are:
1. Whether Bhakti Yoga is a stand alone path or does it require support from other forms of Yoga like Jnana or Karma or Dhyana.
2. Whether the views expressed in this article on Bhakti are spelt out clearly in the Uddhava Gita or are they a personal interpretation.

The clarifications are provided hereunder:
1. Whoever studies scriptures  like Bhagavad Gita or Uddhava Gita the natural and usual question raised  relates to which Yoga is superior? Is it EXCLUSIVELY Bhakti or Jnana or Karma  or Dhyana (Raja) Yoga? This doubt has no relevance because the answers to such  questions are already contained in the concerned scriptures which say  repeatedly ad nauseum  that there  are different paths to realize the Supreme and each person can chose the path  that suits him most depending upon his own temperament. It is very necessary to  bear in mind that these paths are not water tight divisions like study of medicine  or engineering or commerce; they are overlapping and over shadowing in their  nature. For any path to realization the primary qualification expected of a  competent seeker is sadhana chatushtaya or four fold preliminary  requirements. They are:
  1. Viveka
  2. Vairagya
  3. Shad Sampatti which are 1.Sama 2.Dama 3.Uparati or Uparama 4.Titiksha 5.Sraddha  and 6.Samadhana
  4. Mumukshatva

Having said that, we have to  accept the fact that the interpreters of these scriptures lay emphasis on any  one of these Yogas or aspects, again depending upon their own inclination,  times in which they lived, situations they were placed in, their perception of  the goal of life and so many other similar factors.

While the scriptures themselves  are inclusive, the interpretations tend to lead us towards exclusiveness  depending upon the interpreter. Sankara says in a different context that most  of the arguments about the scriptures are “Shabda Jalam, maharanyam, chitta  brhama karanam” i.e. all these arguments are jugglery of words like a  thick forest causing confusion in  understanding the real meaning or core idea.

Thus Bhakti Yoga is not an  exclusive path and all the four paths are complementary to each other. Nobody  can be a true devotee unless his mind is pure and he is selfless in his work  culture which qualities come within the domain of Karma Yoga or Jnana Yoga or  Raja Yoga.  Then how can we say that  Bhakti can stand alone? Hence, it is a question of emphasis and not about the  fundamental content.

2. The above views on Bhakti are not  based on any personal interpretation. They are all repeatedly told by Bhagavan  himself in Srimad Bhagavatam (Uddhava Gita) as also in Bhagavad Gita.

In this connection a reference is  invited to Chapter 19 of Canto 11 of Bhagavatam which gives a dissertation on  Devotion, Spiritual Enlightenment and Yoga disciplines in the form of Yamas and  Niyamas and so on.

Again, Chapter 20 of Canto 11 of  Bhagavatam analyses Jnana Yoga, Karma Yoga and Bhakti Yoga wherein Bhagavan  says
 shri bhagavanuvacha
yogastrayo maya prokta nrinam shreyovidhitsaya
jnanam karma cha bhaktishcha nopayo.anyo.asti kutrachit

 “In order to lead men to liberation, I have  inculcated three Yogas or methods of self-discipline viz.those of knowledge  (Jnana Yoga), work (Karma Yoga) and devotion (Bhakti Yoga). There is no other  means anywhere.” (Bhagavatam 11.20.6)

Thereafter Bhagavan explains the  basic nature of persons fit for each type of Yoga and the modus operandi  relating thereto. There are a good number of verses in Uddhava Gita or Bhagavad  Gita expounding different paths or Yogas for Realisation of the Supreme despite  emphasizing the path of Bhakti. It is also worth noting whenever Bhagavan is on  the subject of Bhakti he puts forth arguments praising Bhakti. Similarly  whenever he talks about Jnana Yoga he praises jnana and when he deals with work  or duties he praises Karma Yoga. Similar is the case when he deals with Dhyana.  That is why Arjuna also told Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita that he has been  confusing him and wanted him to guide him in one path. Answering this request, Krishna  himself gave a detailed explanation as to the complementary nature of all the  Yogas and the fallacy of making a distinction between one another.

The weakness of the faculty of  human perception is that it can only conceive sharp divisions but not a unified  whole. Harmony is always at a discount.

Thus Bhakti does not and cannot  mean exclusion of other approaches and requirements towards the goal. Similarly  Bhakti also requires support of other Sattwa qualities in a person and it  cannot stand alone. Otherwise, it will be like a proverb which says ‘a fellow  studies Ramayana in the day and loots Rama’s temple in the night.’

Finally we have  to agree with what Late Shri C.Rajagopalachari (Rajaji) in his introductory message  to late Smt M.S.Subbulakshmi’s rendering of Bhaja Govindam commented to the  effect that Knowledge gives depth to devotion. Devotion gives beauty and  fragrance to knowledge. Knowledge without devotion is mere tinsel amounting to  intellectual gymnastics and purposeless verbal warfare, while devotion without  knowledge lapses into superstition and a fairy tale.

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