SAGUNA AND NIRGUNA BHAKTI
59. Chapters 6 To 11: From One-Pointedness to Totality
1. Brothers, the waters of the river Ganga are holy everywhere, but some places on her banks like Haridwar, Kashi (Benares) and Prayag (Allahabad) are considered particularly holy. They have blessed the whole world. The Gita too is holy from the beginning to the end, still some of its Chapters have special holiness like the places of pilgrimage. The Chapter on which I am going to talk today is one such Chapter. The Lord Himself has described it as the nectar: ‘ये तु धर्म्यामृतमिदं यथोक्तं पर्युपासते।।’This is a small Chapter with only twenty verses; but it is sweet and life-giving like a spring of nectar. The Lord has Himself eulogised here the greatness of bhakti.
2. In fact, the principle of bhakti has been introduced in the Sixth Chapter itself. The first five Chapters deal with the science of life. They deal with karma (in the form of performance of swadharma), vikarma (the mental sadhana, the inner complementary process which helps that karma) and the final state of akarma that results from their confluence and burns to ashes all the karma. With this, the exposition of the science of life is complete. In one sense, it is the principle of bhakti that has been discussed thereafter from the Sixth Chapter to the Eleventh. The Sixth Chapter tells us how to have onepointedness of mind and discusses the means therefor and the need for it. The Eleventh Chapter presents the complete and holistic vision. Let us now see how we have made the long journey from Beginning was made with one-pointedness of mind. Once this is achieved, one becomes capable of pursuing any subject. One-pointedness of mind can be utilized for the study of any subject with good results. But this is not the highest goal of the concentration of mind.
The study of mathematics, for example, does not fully test the concentration of mind. Concentration of mind can surely help in achieving proficiency in mathematics or any other branch of knowledge, but this is not its true test. Hence it was recommended in the Seventh Chapter that we should concentrate our mind at the feet of the Lord. The Eighth Chapter exhorts us to try, till the moment of death, to be at the feet of the Lord with all the sense-organs devoted to Him and the whole being dedicated to His service. All our organs must be trained to serve this one purpose. ‘पडिलें वळण इंद्रियां सकळां। भावतो निराळां नाही दुजा।।’ (‘All the senses have become used to devotion; there is nothing else in the mind.’) This is what should happen. All the senses should be madly in love of the Lord. Those around us may be wailing or singing hymns, they may be absorbed in weaving webs of desires and passions, or one may be in the company of saintly persons; whatever may be the condition, the senses should be trained by constant practice in such a way that the thought of the Lord would be in mind at the moment of death. This lesson of constancy has been given in the Eighth Chapter. To sum up, there is teaching of concentration of mind in the Sixth Chapter, that of prapatti or concentration directed to the Lord in the Seventh, of the yoga of ceaseless striving in the Eighth and that of dedication to the Lord in the Ninth Chapter. The Tenth Chapter tells us how to proceed step-by-step to come to grasp gradually that the Lord is pervading the entire creation right from an ant to the creator of all beings. The Eleventh Chapter presents the complete and holistic vision. I call this vision of the cosmic form as the yoga of totality. This vision essentially means realising that the whole world is contained in a grain of sand. This is the complete and total vision. The element of bhakti has thus been examined from different angles from the Sixth to the Eleventh Chapter.
References and Context
- ‘The devotees who partake of this immortalizing nectar of dharma, that is, follow the life-giving wisdom as I have taught herein, with faith, keeping Me as their goal, are exceedingly dear to Me’—Gita 12.20