BHAKTI IS NOT BARTERING OR BARGAINING
Thousands of poets there have been before Subramania Bharati (1882-1921) and scores of poets after his time. Only some of their compositions are however being read and remembered today. But, not so with Bharati. Any book of his, in poetry or prose could be opened at any page and studied avidly. A poem of his, on the political situation of his times commences thus :
“They who have set their hearts
on Freedom valorous,
would they be content
with a substitute ? ”
As you read on, another stanza that poured out of his pen strikes you to the heart with its content of the eternal verities :
“They who realise
that human birth
is rare to attain,
would they ever swerve
from the path of Truth
even if their bodies
are singed and scorched ? ”
The message that Bharati seeks to convey is that your political convictions should be part of your character and not based on expediency.
Elsewhere Bharati says :
“Only when the true light
is in your heart
would your word
be illumined. ”
Bharati came to transcend time because he was a realised soul and all his literary creations throb with vitality for that reason. He lists the benefits that accrue to an aspirant who progresses determinedly on the spiritual path :
1. Clarity of thinking
2. Creative activity
3. Acquisition of new skills
4. Association with the brave
5. Dawn of philosophy within
6. Eradication of fear
8. Clearance of depressions
9. Real pleasure
10. Right vision
11. Release from penury
The Seer in Bharati takes care to add that these assets and many more are the fruits of ‘real bhakti’. What all he has listed are actually the outcome of Wisdom. So, what he implies is that genuine bhakti is the same as Jnaanam.
Spiritual aspirants are in three categories : (i) Bhakta (ii) Yogi and (iii) Jnaani. A bhakta has total faith in his God and he cheerfully accepts what falls to his lot, be it pleasure or misery. His is not to question why, his is but to bow and abide. Such a one has neither grievance nor worry in regard to the affairs of the world, for his faith is total that his God does the right thing at all times and provides unfailing protection.
As for the Yogi, he harnesses his sixth sense to inquire into the origin of worldly experiences with a view to understanding the niyati (order) of the Universe. For his inquiry he adopts varied strategy (yukti) such as breath-control, concentration and meditation. A yogi, in short, is a seeker on the path to jnaanam. He has made a beginning, a right one at that, but it is nothing more than a beginning.
If you take a yogi to be a Jnaani, it could turn out to be a mistake, and a grievous one at times; for not all yogis have succeeded in bringing their senses under control.
A real Jnaani is one who has identified the aim and goal of life and stabilised himself in the light of his knowledge of the substratum of the Universe which is the Static State. For such a one, Virtue would have become an integral part of his personality, even as Saint Thiagaraja of Tiruvaiyaru had become nada-brahmam. Not one abhaswara could have emanated from him. In like manner, a Jnaani would do no wrong.
In bhakti, the pitfall is emotion. As long as the mind is wholly absorbed in the auspicious qualities of the Deity, it would be in order. But if the emotion strays towards worldly objects, the bhakta falls like Humpty Dumpty. This has happened to quite a few devotees of repute who all had to pay a heavy price for their transgressions.
Since bhakti is necessarily towards a personal God, there would be a tendency to seek reward, even it be moksha. Prayer is part of bhakti but it should not degenerate into bartering or bargaining. “If you vouchsafe me such and such a boon, I would in return visit your temple with such and such an offering!” — this is certainly not bhakti but a business-tactic ! As Bhagavan Ramana Maharishi said on one occasion : “You say your God is omniscient, which means he knows everything including your requirements. If so, why do you give loud word to your grievances unless it is to publicise them to the world at large!”
- Excerpt from Sage TGN’s Talk on ‘Bharati the Philosopher : Freedom from Misery’