Over the last few years, the left (and their ideological allies, the Congress and its bedfellows the regional so-called secular parties) – in order to spite their political rivals, the BJP – have used a word pejoratively – “Bhakt”. Which means devotee. A clever ploy to use Dharmic terms in a negative way to make the most central precept of Dharma an abuse!
Worse still, the Hindus who are ideologically seeking to fight those who are trying to break India and also undermine the Indian Dharmic heritage also take pride in hurling – while they are abusing the many Gurus (which we will write about soon) – abuses at the disciples of Indian Gurus by chiding their devotion as “blind faith” and calling them “blind Bhakts”. A typical example of legitimizing the primacy of the very paradigm they are fighting in the first place! They – and not just the ones of the belief systems – confuse, nay equate Devotion with Belief!
This is a strange situation for someone who is trying to look at Dharma the way it should be – a ruthless seeking and a complete dissolution. A scenario where the Machiavellian Aggressors to the spiritual heritage of India and those who passionately try to fight them stand united against the most central of tenets to Dharmic life – Bhakti and Guru-Shishya. And, in view of such bizarre masochist activism, I maintain that both camps are working together to undermine Indian heritage. One with an explicit intent and the other due to a lack of perspective.
Bhakti is the highest pursuit in Indian spiritual history. Even Krishna put it above every other path. Why? Because it is the toughest and yet the most beautiful. In Bhakti, one dissolves, not after working out an algorithm seeking a Cost-Benefit result, but because that is the doing of his or her flowering. Every creature and every atom in existence – from Amoeba to the largest of galaxies and stars are prone and programmed for survival. That survival resides in every part of existence at many levels. Body, mind, nerves, chemicals and structures. Every chemical reaction in the body, without any explicit instruction from us, resolves to restore us. When the bug of survival is working at so many levels, how does one go past it and dissolve completely into one idea or being? And, this dissolution is not mental or intellectual, but of the whole being.
Those who saw Ramakrishna interacting with his Goddess or Meera engaging with Krishna thought they were mad. These two were so truly and fully dissolved in their devotion that Kali and Krishna were in every atom for them. As they should be. Meera did not need a Gita to experience Krishna’s cosmic self – her devotion did more than that for her via the sweetness of her own being. Her Bhakti was far more potent that the excruciating detail that Krishna went into for Arjun to get him to a point of experiencing him in the face of death – the Mahabharat! That is the power and the potency of Bhakti. Meera’s Bhakti was in many ways more powerful than Krishna’s Geeta itself. But it took her entire being away. Every instinct of survival had been snuffed out of every sinew and atom she lived through. Only when her dissolution was complete did Krishna arise in her. One atom less of dissolution and she would have been a hoax.
When dissolution and its consequence Bhakti has been held so high – not as a matter of faith or belief – but as a way of one’s being, isn’t it so much more ridiculous and bizarre that those who have set out on the path to “save Dharma”, fashion it as a pejorative?
Guru has been the only conduit of spiritual attainment – Moksha. Shiva, the Adi Guru (first Guru) has been the only one this culture has known as a Swayambhu – or one who attained the highest self of his own accord. Everyone else – including Krishna (called the most complete being) needed a Guru. A Guru for whom these disciples – whether Ram or Krishna or in recent times Swami Vivekananda – gave themselves off completely. If we had finished the Gurus from our midst, we would have finished Dharma.
Without complete devotion, nothing is ever gained from a Guru as well. That is the second tenet of the spiritual path. The spiritual path – whether Jnana or Kriya – takes a lot of toll on one’s survival instincts. Without Bhakti, no attainment is ever possible. That has been the central message of those who have attained and those who have walked the path.
And this is not because one’s own Guru is the best but because of the need to receive what is being offered. Anyone who has ever been initiated into a Spiritual path knows and fully understands that what is offered by the Guru is far more than verbal. What is given by the Guru is subtle and profound. Due to lack of one’s full awareness, one tends to the seed of the Guru – unfortunately – only via one’s five senses. And, these five senses are the filters and the distortionists to anything that can be received. For example, the Grace of the Divine is available at any point of existence and all times as it is one with the existence.. rather it IS the existence. Yet, very few are able to tune themselves to it. The question is not of giving, but of receiving.
Spiritual work is the attempt to receive fully. And unless one is fully devoted to one’s Guru, what one will receive will be a prisoner of the distortions of one’s five senses. Until the receptivity of one’s self reaches a certain level where one recognizes the potent Grace, devotion is the ONLY companion. That is how it has always been.
Sometimes, like in the case of Ramakrishna Paramhans, despite the ability to experience complete bliss and stop there, it took the extraordinary action of his Guru – Totapuri – to slash his forehead to take him to the final realm. That is how elusive spiritual attainment can get even for the best on this path. What to speak of those who are just starting off?
So devotion to a Guru is not a statement of eulogy for one’s own Guru vs rest, but a tool to prepare one to receive without distortion.
That is why in India, Gurus or Yogis were not compared. Especially when the path completely differed. A Meera could never evaluate a Master in the Aghori tradition. They were miles apart in their ways, but ONE in their final self. And that is why whenever one heard of a Yogi or any Guru walking the village or town, one would not lose the opportunity to bow down to Him or Her. No matter what the tradition or the path of the Accomplished One, the Divinity expressed was the same.
All this is under attack.
One, is by those who have used the tints of Belief to evaluate Seeking and Devotion. They have due to ignorance or deliberately, tried to equate Devotion with Belief.
And two, by those who fight those who define themselves by beliefs.
Either way, Dharma and Spiritual work in India is the victim.
Featured Image: Oil Painting of Meera and Krishna (Artist Unknown)