Condensed and Retold by Swami Tapasyananda


Chapter:1 What is Bhakti?

Bhakti and Jnana-their relation:

Bhakti is a real and genuine search for the Lord, a search beginning, continuing and ending in Love. It has been the one constant theme of our sages. Even commentators on the Vyasa- sutras, who are evidently advocates of knowledge (Jnana), have something very suggestive to say about it.

There is not really so much difference between knowledge (jnana) and love (Bhakthi), as people sometimes imagine. The Jnanais look Bhakti to be an instrument of liberation; the Bhaktas look upon it both as the instrument and the thing to be attained. “To my mind this is a distinction without much difference. In fact, Bhakti when used as an instrument, really means a lower form of worship, and the higher form becomes inseparable from the lower form of realization at a later stage…. With perfect love, true knowledge is bound to come even unsought, and from perfect knowledge, true love is inseparable.”

Fanaticism the great pitfall of Bhakti schools:
The one great advantage of Bhakti is that it is the easiest and the most natural way to reach the great divine end in view. Its great disadvantage is that in its lower forms it oftentimes degenerates into hideous fanaticism. The reason for this is that to any an undeveloped mind the singleness of attachment to one object to one object or ideal (Nishtha) is possible only by hating the ideals and personalities adored by others. Their love is like canine instinct of guarding the master’s property against all intrusion; but while the dog can recognize the master in any garb, the fanatic cannot!

The best safeguard against this tendency is to develop a noble character in which knowledge, love and Yoga are harmoniously fused. For attaining to the heights of spiritual consummation, it is better that the two wings of knowledge and love, and with the tail of Yoga as rudder for steering.

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