Bhagavad-gita-rahasya (or Karma-yoga Shastra)

by Bhalchandra Sitaram Sukthankar | 1935 | 327,828 words

The English translation of the Bhagavad-Gita Rahasya, also known as the Karma-yoga Shastra or “Science of Right Action”, composed in Marathi by Bal Gangadhar Tilak in 1915. This first volume represents an esoteric exposition of the Bhagavadgita and interprets the verses from a Mimamsa philosophical standpoint. The work contains 15 chapters, Sanskri...

Chapter 13 - The Path of Devotion (bhakti-mārga)

sarvadharmān parityajya mām ekaṃ śaraṇaṃ vraja |
ahaṃ tvā sarvapāpebhyo mokṣyayiṣyāmi mā śucaḥ ||
  —Gītā. (18.66).

"Give up all kinds of religions (dharma), that is, means of attaining the Parameśvara, and surrender yourself to Me alone. I shall redeem you from all sins, do not be afraid".[1]

I have so far dealt, from the Metaphysical point of view, with the question of how the Desireless Realisation of the identity of the Ātman in all created beings, which is instilled into the body, is the foundation of the Karma-Yoga and of Release; and of how this pure Reason is acquired by Realising the identity of the Ātman and the Brahman; and why everyone must, so long as life lasts, perform the duties, which have befallen him according to his status in life, with his pure Reason. But, the subject-matter preached in the Bhagavadgītā is not thereby exhausted; because, although there is no doubt that the Realisation of the identity of the Brahman and the Ātman is the only true Reality and the ideal, and that " there is nothing in the world which is equally holy " (Bhagavadgītā 4.38), yet, in as much as the consideration of that subject-matter, which has been made so far, as also the path or manner of acquiring that Equability of Reason, is wholly dependent on the Reason itself, ordinary persons feel a doubt as to how one can acquire that keenness of Intelligence by which that path or manner can be fully realised, and whether if somebody's Reason is not so keen, that man must be considered as lost; and such a doubt is certainly not ill-founded. They say: if even the greatest of Jñānins have to say 'neti, neti ' (i.e., 'It is not this, It is not that'—Translator.) in describing that your immortal highest Brahman (Parabrahman), which is clothed in the perishable Name-d and Form-ed Māyā, how are ordinary persons like us to understand it? Therefore, why should anyone be found fault with if he asks to be shown some easy path or manner, by following which this deep knowledge of the Brahman can come within the periphery of his limited receptiveness? It is stated in the Gītā and in the Kaṭhopaniṣad that though there are many who; being struck by astonishment, describe their experience of the Ātman (that is, of the Brahman), and though there are others who listen to that description, yet, no one understands that Ātman (Bhagavadgītā 2.29; Kaṭhopaniṣad 2.7); and there is even a very instructive story about this in one place in the Śruti texts.

In this story, there is a description that when Bāṣkali asked Bāhva the question:

"My lord, explain to me, please, what the Brahman is", Bāhva would not give any answer. Though Bāṣkali repeated that question, Bhāva was still silent. When- this had happened three or four times, Bāhva said to Bāṣkali: "I have been all this while giving an answer to your question, and yet you ' do not understand it. What more can I do? The form of the Brahman cannot be described in any way, and therefore, remaining quiet and not giving any description of it, is the truest description of the Brahman. Have you now understood it?" (Śāṃkarabhāṣya 3.2.17).

In short, how is a man possessing only an ordinary Reason to- realise this indescribable, unimaginable Parabrahman, which is absolutely different from the visible world (dṛśyasṛṣṭivilakṣaṇa), and which can be described only by keeping quiet, which can be seen only after the eyes have ceased to see, and which can be Realised only after one has ceased to Realise? (Kenopaniṣat (= Talavakāropaniṣat) 2.11); and how is a man to thereby acquire the state of Equability and afterwards attain Release? If there is no means except a keen intelligence for realising by- personal experience and in all its bearings, the form of the Parameśvara described by the words "there is only one Ātman in all created beings", and for thereby attaining the highest excellence, then, millions of people in the world must give up the hope of attaining the Brahman, and sit quiet; because, highly intelligent people are necessarily always few. If one says that it 'will be enough to place reliance on what these scients say, we come across numerous differences of opinion even among the scients. Besides, if one says that it is enough to merely place such reliance, it necessarily follows that the path of 'faith' or 'belief' is open for acquiring this recondite Knowledge, in addition to the path of Reason; and really- speaking, it will be seen that Knowledge does not become complete or even fruitful without Religious Faith (śraddhā). That all Knowledge is acquired merely by Intelligence, and that no other mental faculties are necessary for that purpose is an idle belief of certain philosophers, whose minds have become crude as a result of life-long contact with sciences based on inferential reasoning. For instance, let us take the proposition that, 'to-morrow morning the Sun will rise again'. We think that the knowledge contained in this proposition is absolutely immutable. Why? Because, we and our ancestors have seen this occurrence going on uninterruptedly so long. But, if one considers the matter deeply enough, it will be seen that the fact that one and one's ancestors have so far seen the Sun rising daily can never become a reason for the Sun to rise tomorrow, that the Sun does not rise every day in order that one should see it rise, nor because one sees it rise; and that the reasons for the Sun to rise are quite different. And if the fact that you see the Sun rise every day, cannot be a reason for the Sun to rise to-morrow, what guarantee is there that the Sun will rise to-morrow? After a particular occurrence has been observed to take place in the case of a particular thing for a GREAT LENGTH of TIME, concluding that that occurrence will continue in future PERMANENTLY is a kind of Faith; and although we may give it the high sounding name of 'inference', yet, it must be borne in mind that this inference is not an inference based on a consideration of Cause and Effect, and arrived at by the Intelligence, but is fundamentally based on Faith. The inference drawn by us that because Rāma finds sugar sweet, Soma will also find it sweet, is, as a matter of fact, fundamentally of the same nature; because, though it is true that our Intelligence actually experiences the knowledge that sugar is sweet, yet, when we go beyond that, and say that all persons find sugar sweet, we have to combine Faith with Intelligence. In the same way, it need not be told that in order to understand the principle of Geometry, that it is possible to have two straight lines which will never touch each other, however far they may be extended, one has to go beyond the bounds of all personal experience, with the help of Faith. Besides, all the activities of the world go on with the help of inherent mental faculties like Faith, Love etc., and Intelligence does nothing beyond controlling these mental faculties. I have explained above in the chapter on the Body and the Ātman, that when once the good or bad nature of any particular thing has been ascertained by the Intelligence, the further execution of that decision has to be carried out with the help of the Mind or of the mental faculties. Therefore, in order to perfect the knowledge which has been acquired by Intelligence, and in order that that knowledge should be translated by means of the Intelligence into behaviour and action, such knowledge has always to rely on Faith, Kindness, Affection, Love of Duty, and other inherent mental tendencies; and that knowledge which does not rely on the help of these mental tendencies after they have been awakened and purified, must be looked upon as bare, incomplete, perversely inferential, and barren or immature. Just as the bullet in a gun cannot be fired without the help of gunpowder, so also can the knowledge acquired merely by Intelligence not redeem anyone without the help of mental qualities like Love, Faith, etc.; and this principle was fully known to our ancient Ṛṣis. For example, it is stated in the Chāndogya that in order to prove to Śvetaketu that, the imperceptible and subtle Parabrahman is the fundamental cause of the visible world, his father, asked him to bring the fruit of a banian tree (vaṭa-vṛkṣa), and to see what was inside. When Śvetaketu had cut open that fruit and seen inside, he said:–"there are innumerable minute seeds or grains inside." When his father again said to him: "take one of those seeds, and tell me what is inside it", Śvetaketu replied: "I see nothing inside the seed ". To that his father replied: "O my son, this tremendous banian tree (vaṭa-vṛkṣa) has sprung from that nothing which you see inside"; and his father has ultimately said to him, "śraddhasva", i.e., "put faith in this", that is, "do not merely keep this idea in your Mind, and say 'yes' to my face, but go beyond it; in short, let this principle be impressed on your heart, and let it be translated into your actions" (Chan. 6. 12). If Faith is ultimately necessary in order to obtain the definite knowledge that the Sun is going to rise to-morrow morning, then it undoubtedly follows that after having gone by the cart-road of Intelligence as far as possible for completely Realising the eternal, unending, all-causing, allknowing, independent, and vital Principle, Which is the root of the entire universe, one has to go further, at least to some extent, by the foot-path of Faith and Affection. That woman whom a man looks upon as venerable and worshipful, because she is his mother, is looked upon by others as an ordinary woman, or according to the scientific camouflage of words of Logicians, she is "garbhadhāraṇāprasavādi strītva- sāmānyāvacchedakāvacchinnavyaktiviśeṣaḥ".

From this simple example, one can easily understand the difference brought about. by pouring the Knowledge acquired by mere inference, into' the mould of Faith and Affection; and for this very reason, it is stated in the Gītā that "the most excellent Karma-Yogin from among all, is the one who has Faith" (Bhagavadgītā 6.47); and, as has been stated above, there is also a theorem of the Philosophy of the Absolute Self that,

acintyāḥ khalu ye bhāvāḥ na tāṃs tarkeṇa cintayet",

I.e., "the form of those objects which, being beyond the organs, cannot be imagined, should not be determined merely by the help of inference".

If the only difficulty were that the qualityless Parabrahman is difficult to Realise for ordinary persons, then, that difficulty could be overcome by Faith or confidence, though there- might be a difference of opinion among the intelligent persons; because, in that case we could judge for ourselves which of these intelligent persons was more reliable, and put faith in bis statements (Bhagavadgītā 13.25). In logic, this course is known as. 'āpta-vacana-pramāṇa' (i.e., "belief in the statements of a credible person" ~Translator.), 'āpta' means a reliable person. If we look at the affairs of the world, we see that hundreds of persons carry on their activities, relying on the statements of trustworthy persons. There will be very few persons who will be in a position to explain scientifically why two into five is equal to ten and not seven, or why when a second figure one is placed after the first figure one, we get eleven, and not two. Nevertheless, the affairs of the world are going on in the belief by Faith that these statements are true. We will come across very few persona who will have an actual personal knowledge of the fact whether the height of the Himalayas is five miles or ten miles; yet, if someone asks us what the height of the Himalayas is, the figure of "23000 feet", learnt by heart by us in school from books on Geography at once escapes from our lips I Then, if someone says to us: 'describe the nature of the Brahman', what is the objection to our saying: 'it is qualityless'? Although the ordinary man in the street may not have sufficient intelligence to investigate into whether or not it is really qualityless, and to discuss the pros and cons, yet, Faith is not such a quality that it is possessed only by persona of the highest intelligence. Even the most ignorant man has no dearth of faith, and if he carries on all his numerous affairs with the help of Faith, there is not the slightest difficulty in the way of his believing by Faith that the Brahman is qualityless. Even if one considers the history of the doctrine of Release, it will be seen that even before Jñānins had come to the conclusion that the Brahman is qualityless, after having analysed its nature and form, man had by Faith come to the conclusion that there was, at the bottom of the created universe, some Principle far different from and stranger than the perishable and mutable things in the world, Which was eternal, immortal, independent, omnipotent, omniscient, and all-pervasive; and he had been worshipping it in some form or other. It is true that he could not at that time explain or justify this Knowledge; but even in the Material sciences, the rule is that the experience comes first, and the explanation or justification of it comes afterwards. For instance, before Bhāskarācārya discovered the principle of gravity of the earth, and ultimately Newton discovered the principle of gravity of the entire universe, the fact that the fruit from a tree falls down to the earth, was known to everyone from times immemorial. The same argument applies to

Metaphysics. It is true that the purpose of Intelligence is to analyse the Knowledge which has been acquired by Faith, and to give an explanation of it; but though a proper explanation of that Realisation is not forthcoming, it cannot, on that account, he said that the Knowledge which has been acquired by Faith is a mere illusion.

If it were enough, merely to believe that the Brahman is qualityless, there is no doubt that that could be done merely by Faith as stated above (Bhagavadgītā 13.5). But, as has been stated at the end of the ninth chapter, the bare Realisation that the Brahman is qualityless, is not enough to enable a person to reach his highest ideal in this world, namely, the Brāhmī state or the state of the Siddha (Perfect). That Knowledge must be made to permeate the heart and the bodily organs by means of intense practice and continual habit, and the Realisation of the identity of the Brahman and the Ātman must become an inherent nature, by means of constant behaviour consistent with that idea; and the only way for achieving that result is to imbibe the nature and form of the Parameśvara by Love, and to make one's mind uniform with the Parameśvara. This measure or method has been in vogue in our country from times immemorial, and it is known as "Worship (upāsanā) or Devotion (bhakti). The Śāṇḍilya-Sūtra defines 'Bhakti' as: "sā (bhaktiḥ) parānuraktir īśvare", i.e., 'bhakti' is the 'para,' that is, the most intense love towards the Īśvara " (Śāṇḍilya-Sūtras 2). 'para' does not mean only 'most intense'; but it must also be purposeless (nirhetuka), that is, it must not be for this or that purpose, but unselfish and immutable. It is stated in the Bhāgavata-Purāṇa that it must be "ahetukya vyavahitā yā bhaktiḥ puruṣottame" (Śriman Mahābhārata 3.29.12); because when the Devotion is purposeful (sahetuka), and the man says: " O, God!

give me a particular thing," it, to some extent, acquires a mercenary appearance like the Desireful Vedic sacrificial ritual. When Devotion thus becomes mercenary or rājasa, one does not thereby acquire purification of the Mind; and if the purification of the Mind is not complete, Metaphysical excellence or the obtaining of Release is to that extent prejudiced. As the principle of total Desirelessness, which is part of the philosophy of the Highest Self (adhyātma-śāstra), thus also finds a place in the Path of Devotion, the Gītā has divided the devotees of the Blessed Lord into four classes, and has stated that the Devotee, who worships the Parameśvara, 'arthārthī', that is, 'with some particular motive', is of a lower order, and the Jñānin, who like Nārada and others, worships the Blessed Lord merely as a matter of duty, like other desireless Actions, though he has Realised the Parameśvara and has, therefore, nothing more to obtain (Bhagavadgītā 3.18) is the most excellent of all (Bhagavadgītā 7.16–18).

This Devotion is of nine kinds according to the Bhāgavata-Purāṇa as follows:–

śravaṇaṃ kīrtanaṃ viṣṇoḥ smaraṇaṃ pādasevanam |
arcanaṃ vandanaṃ dāsyaṃ sakhyaṃ ātmanivedanam ||
  (Śrīmad Bhāgavatpurāṇa 7.5.23).

That is: "listening to the praise of Viṣṇu, praising Him, thinking of Him, serving at His feet, worshipping Him, bowing down before Him, being His slave, loving Him, and dedicating oneself to Him"—(Translator.);

And in the Bhakti-Sūtra by Nārada, it is divided into eleven classes. But, as all these kinds of Devotion have been described in detail in the Dāsabodha and other Marathi books, I will not further discuss them here. Whatever may be the nature of the Devotion, it is clear that the ordinary purpose of Devotion, namely, of cultivating an intense and Desireless love for the Parameśvara, and forming one's mental tendencies accordingly, must be carried out by every man with the help of his Mind; because, as has been explained by me above in the sixth chapter, the internal organ of Intelligence does nothing beyond deciding between what is good or bad, righteous or unrighteous, and performable or unperformable;. and all the other mental functions have to be carried out by the Mind itself. Therefore, we now arrive at the Dual division, (i) the Mind, and (ii) the object of worship, that is to say, the object which is to be loved; but that most excellent form of the Brahman, which has been advocated in the Upaniṣads, is beyond the organs, imperceptible, eternal, qualityless, and 'ekamevādvitīyam', (i.e., 'one alone, without a second' ~Translator.); and therefore, one cannot start one's worship with the Brahman. Because, when one realises this excellent form of the Brahman, the Mind does not any more remain a separate entity, and, as has been stated before in the chapter on the Philosophy of the Absolute Self, the worshipper and the worshipped, or the Knower (jñātā) and the Knowable (jñeya) both become uniform. The qualityless Brahman is the ultimate goal, it is not the means to be employed for reaching the goal; and unless the mind acquires, by some means or other, the capacity of becoming unified with the qualityless Brahman, one cannot personally get a vision of this excellent form of the Brahman. Therefore, the Form of the Brahman which has to be taken for the Devotion or Worship to be performed, as a means of Realising the Brahman, is of the second order, that is to say, it is the qualityful (saguṇa) form, which can be Realised by the Mind, on account of the difference between the worshipper and the worshipped; and therefore, wherever the worship of the Brahman has been prescribed in the Upaniṣads, the Brahman to be worshipped has been described as qualityful, notwithstanding that it is imperceptible. For example, although that Brahman, of which the worship has been prescribed in the Śāṇḍilya-Vidyā, is imperceptible, that is, formless, yet, it is stated in the Chāndogyopaniṣad, that it must possess existence (satya-saṃkalpa), and also all such faculties as smelling (gandha), tasting (rasa), and acting (karma), which are perceptible to the Mind (Chāndogyopaniṣad 3.14). Although the Brahman to be worshipped is in this case qualityful, yet, it is imperceptible (avyakta), that is, formless (nirākāra). But, the natural formation of the human Mind is such that man finds it extremely difficult, or almost impossible, to love or to make his mind uniform, by meditation and concentration, with an object from even among the qualityful objects, which is imperceptible, that is, which, having no definite form, smell, etc., is, on that account, not cognisable by the organs. Because, as the Mind is naturally restless, it cannot understand on what to concentrate itself, unless it has before itself, by way of support, some steady object, which is perceptible to the organs. If this mental act of concentration is found difficult even by Jñānins. how much more so then by ordinary people? Therefore, just as in teaching Geometry one has to draw on a slate or on a board, by way of sample, a small portion of a line, in order to impress on the Mind the nature of a straight line, which, though in itself eternal, endless, and breadthless. that is to say. imperceptible, is yet qualityful, because it possesses the quality of length, so also, ordinary people at least have got to keep before the mind, some perceptible object, which has a 'pratyakṣa' (visible) Name and Form, in order that they should acquire affection for and make their minds uniform with the Parameśvara, Who is the cause of everything, omnipotent, and omniscient, that is to say, qualityful, but who is yet formless, that is to say, imperceptible (avyakta).[2] Nay, unless some perceptible thing has been seen, the human mind cannot conceive the idea of the Imperceptible, For instance, it is only after one has seen by one's own eyes the perceptible colours red, green etc., that the common and imperceptible idea of 'colour' comes into existence in the human mind, and not otherwise. You may call this the natural quality or the defect of the human mind. Whatever may be the case, so long as the embodied human being cannot get rid of this mental quality, there is no other way except to descend from the Qualityless into the Qualityful, and into the Perceptible Qualityful rather than the Imperceptible Qualityful, for purposes of Worship (upāsanā) or Devotion (bhakti).

Therefore, the path of worshipping the Perceptible, has been in vogue since times immemorial, and ultimately in Upaniṣads like the Rāma-tāpanīya and others, the worship of the perceptible form of the Brahman, in the shape of human beings, is mentioned; and in the Bhagavadgītā also, this doctrine has been reiterated in the following logical form:–

kleśo 'dhikataras teṣāṃ avyaktāsaktacetasām |
avyaktā hi gatir duḥkhaṃ dehavadbhir avāpyate ||
  (Bhagavadgītā 12.5).

That is, "that man who wishes to concentrate his Mind (citta) on the Imperceptible (avyakta), suffers much; because, to the human being, clothed in a body and organs, it is inherently difficult to reach this state of the Imperceptible".

This path of 'visible experience' is known as the "Path of Devotion". When once the form of the Parabrahman has been, defined by means of the Intelligence, concentrating the mind on Its imperceptible form by means of thought, will be possible- for an intelligent person; not that it is impossible; but in as much as this act of attaching the 'Mind' on the Imperceptible, has to be accomplished by the help of Faith or Affection, one does not escape the necessity of Faith and Affection in this path. Therefore, from the philosophical point of view, even- the worship of the saccidānanda Brahman (the Brahman which: is eternal, conscious, and joyful), must be included in the Path of Devotion, which is founded on Love. Nevertheless, as the form of the Brahman, which is taken for purposes of meditation in this path, is essentially imperceptible, and is accessible only to the Reason, that is, only to Jñāna, and is the most important factor, it is usual not to refer to this path as the Path of Devotion, but as Contemplation of the Absolute Self, (adhyātma-vicāra), the Worship of the Imperceptible (avyaktopāsanā) or simply Worship (upāsanā), or the PATH OF KNOWLEDGE; and although the Brahman which is worshipped is required to be qualityful, yet, if one takes a perceptible, instead of an imperceptible form, and especially a human form, for worship, that makes it the PATH OF DEVOTION. But, it will be clearly seen, that (i) though the paths may be two, yet since one attains the same Parameśvara, and ultimately acquires Equability of Reason by either path, these two paths are eternal stair-cases for rising to the same floor, which are used by different persons according to their respective qualifications; and that (ii) the ideals do not become different because the paths are different. Out of these, the first step of the one staircase is Intelligence, whereas the first step of the other staircase is Faith and Love; and whichever path is followed, the man acquires the same kind of Realisation of the same Parameśvara, and attains the same Release, Therefore, the doctrine that, "there is no salvation unless it is based on actually experienced Knowledge", is common to both the paths. Then, where is the sense of entering into the futile discussion as to whether the Path of Knowledge is superior or the Path of Devotion is superior? Though these two paths are at first different having regard to the qualification of the man, they are ultimately of the same value in effect, and are both called 'Adhyātma' (the Philosophy of the Absolute Self) in the Gītā (Bhagavadgītā 11.1). But although Knowledge and Devotion are of the same value as means (sādhana), yet, there is this important difference between the two, that whereas Devotion can never become a Niṣṭhā, Knowledge can become a Niṣṭhā, that is, the highest stage in the State of Perfection (siddhāvasthā). It is true that one can get the same Knowledge of the Parameśvaram. by means of Devotion, as by means of the Contemplation of the Absolute Self, or the Worship of the Imperceptible (Bhagavadgītā 18.55); but if, after having acquired this Knowledge,. the man gives up worldly life and remains steeped in the Knowledge, the Gītā calls him a 'Jñāna-niṣṭhā' and not a 'Bhakti-niṣṭhā.' As the process of Devotion is based on the duality of the worshipper and the worshipped, no Devotion or any other kind of worship survives in the ultimate state of the merger of the Ātman into Brahman. The ultimate resolution of Devotion is into Knowledge; Devotion is a means for acquiring Knowledge, it is not a goal in itself.

In short, Knowledge becomes a means, as meaning the worship of the Imperceptible; whereas, it becomes a Niṣṭhā, that is, an ultimate state, as meaning the direct Realisation of the identity of the Brahman and the Ātman; and when it is necessary to make this difference clear, the two words 'Jñāna-mārga' and: 'Jñāna-niṣṭhā' are not used synonymously, but the word 'Jñāna-mārga' is used to indicate the worship of the Imperceptible in its preparatory stages, and the word 'Jñānaniṣṭhā' is used to indicate the State of Perfection (siddhāvasthā), which consists of giving up all Action after Acquisition of Knowledge, and becoming engrossed in Knowledge. That is to say, Jñāna once becomes a means (Jñāna-mārga), in the sense of the Worship of the Imperceptible (avyaktopāsanā), or the Meditation on the Absolute Self (adhyātma-vicāra); and it becomes a Niṣṭhā, that is to say, the ultimate state of Abandonment of Action, in the sense of a Direct Realisation (aparokṣānubhava); and the same is the case with Karma. That Karma (Action) which has to be initially performed according to the limits laid down by the Śāstras for the purification of the Mind is a means (sādhana).

By this Karma, the Mind becomes purified and Knowledge and Peace are ultimately acquired; but when, instead of remaining steeped in this Knowledge, the man continues to perform Desireless Action peacefully, so long as life lasts, this Desireless Action combined with Knowledge is a Karma which becomes a Niṣṭhā, (Bhagavadgītā 3.3). But, the same is not the case with Devotion.

Devotion is only a path, that is to say, it is a means of acquiring Knowledge; it is not a Niṣṭhā. Therefore, in the beginning of the Gītā, only the two Niṣṭhās of Jñāna (Sāṃkhya) and Yoga (Karma) have been dealt with; and in mentioning the various means, ways, ritual, or paths of acquiring the Karma-Yoga Niṣṭhā, out of the two (Bhagavadgītā 7.1), the Gītā has described the two sister paths of the Worship of the Imperceptible (Jñāna-mārga) and the Worship of the Perceptible (Bhakti-mārga), which have been in vogue from times immemorial, and states that the Worship of the Imperceptible out of the two is fraught with difficulty, whereas the Worship of the Perceptible, or Devotion, is a path which is easier, that is, is such as can be followed by everybody; or as Tukārāma has said:–

"if you want to reach the Parameśvara; then this is the easier path ||"
  (Tukārāma's Gāthā 3002).

The ancient Upaniṣads deal with the Jñāna-mārga (the Path of Knowledge) and the Śāṇḍilya-Sūtra and other Sūtras or the Bhāgavata, and other works, praise the Path of Devotion; but no ancient religious treatise is seen to have differentiated between the Jñāna-mārga and the Bhakti-mārga as two paths, according to the qualification of the person, and to have ultimately harmonised both of them with the Path of Desireless Action, as has been impartially done in the Gītā.

If one considers, as mentioned above, what should be done by man, who is embodied in a Body and organs, in order to acquire the true and self-experienced Knowledge of the.form of the Īśvara, to the effect that there is only one Parameśvara in all created beings, one comes to the conclusions that, (i) although the eternal, inexpressible, and unimaginable form of the Parameśvara, which can be described only by the words " It is not this, It is not this " ('neti, neti'), is the most superior form, yet, as it is QUALITYLESS, UNKNOWABLE, AND IMPERCEPTIBLE, the Dualistic difference of the worshipper and the worshipped does not remain any more when it has been Realised; that, (ii) therefore, worship (upāsanā) cannot start with that form; that, (iii) that form is something which is to be reached, and not the means of reaching it; and 'that, (iv) worship (upāsanā) is a means for acquiring the Non- Dualistic state of becoming uniform with that form. There- fore, that object which has to be taken for this worship, has necessarily to be a qualityful object. The all-knowing, omni- potent, allpervading, and uncircumscribed form of the Brahman is such a form, that is, a QUALITYFUL form. But, as such a form is ACCESSIBLE ONLY TO THE INTELLIGENCE, AND IMPERCEPTIBLE, that is, not perceptible to the organs, it is a difficult form for purposes of worship. Therefore, in all religions, man is seen to naturally adopt for purposes of 'Devotion', in preference to both these forms, that sympathetic and easily accessible QUALITYFUL, LOVE-EARNED, PERCEPTIBLE, and VISIBLE Parameśvara, Who, notwithstanding that He is the unimaginable, omnipresent, all-pervading, and all-powerful Self of the whole world, will yet speak with us, love us, place us on the path of righteousness, and lead us to a happy state; Whom we can call our own; Who will be sympathetic towards our pain and.happiness, and forgive our sins; with reference to Whom we can establish the direct relation that He is ours, and we are His; Who will protect us like a father; Who will be a mother to us; or Who will be, "gatir bhartā prabhuḥ sākṣī nivāsaḥ śaraṇaṃ suhṛt" (Bhagavadgītā 9.17 and 18), i.e., "our goal, our maintainer, our owner, our companion, our home of protection and rest, our ultimate support and hope, our friend and our protector"; and Whom we can, on that account, realise by love and caressingly; and Who is truthful, endowed with all glory, the ocean of kindness, the lover of His devotees, the holy of holies, the height of magnanimity, the height of kindness, the most revered, the height of beauty, and the home of all qualities. These two last kinds of the form of the fundamentally unimaginable and 'one only, without a second' Parabrahman, which are visible to man by means of the mental spectacles of Love, Devotion, etc., are, in Vedānta philosophy, given the technical name of 'Īśvara.'

If the Parameśvara is all-pervading, why has Pāṇḍuraṅga or Viṭhobā, a diminutive form? To this question, the answer given by Tukārāma is:-

Tukā says that although the Hari is all-pervading and only one; He has become small for purposes of Devotion
  (Tukārāma's Gāthā 38.7);

And the same doctrine has been expounded in the Vedānta- Sūtras (1.2.7). Even the Upaniṣads, in describing the worship of the Brahman, do not mention only, Life, Mind, and other qualityful, but purely imperceptible things, but they at the same time mention the worship of qualityful, perceptible objects like the Sun (āditya) or the food, etc. (Taittirīya Upaniṣad 3.26; Chāndogyopaniṣad 7); and in the Śvetāśvataropaniṣad, after describing the 'Īśvara' as: "māyāṃ tu prakṛtiṃ vidyāt māyinaṃ tu maheśvaram" (Śvetāśvataropaniṣad 4.10), that is, "Māyā is the name given to Matter (prakṛti), and the Lord of this Māyā is the highest Īśvara (maheśvara)", the qualityful Īśvara is further described as: "jñātvā devaṃ mucyate sarvapāśaiḥ", that is, " by knowing this god (dew), one becomes free from all bonds" (Śvetāśvataropaniṣad 4.16)–which is more or less the same as in the Gītā. The Name-d and Form-ed object necessary for purposes of worship as the symbol, sign, incarnation, particle, or representation of the worshipped Parabrahman, is known in Vedānta philosophy as a 'pratīka'.

The etymological meaning of 'pratīka', is prati + ika, that is, 'one, who is turned, towards (prati) ourselves'; and that side or portion of any particular object, which first becomes perceptible to us, and whereby we subsequently obtain a knowledge of it, is called 'pratīka'.

According to this meaning, any perceptible side, part, or particular incarnation of the allpervading Parameśvara can become a 'pratīka" for acquiring His Knowledge. For instance, in the conversation between the Brahmin and the Vyādha (hunter), the Vyādha, after explaining the Knowledge of the Absolute Self to the Brahmin, says in the end:

pratyakṣaṃ mama yo dharmas taṃ ca paśya dvijottama
  (Vana. 213. 3),

I.e., "O most excellent among Brahmins, now see my visible religion";

And he then takes the Brahmin to his aged parents and says, "these are my 'visible deities', and serving them with all my heart and soul, as if they are the Parameśvara, is my 'visible' (pratyakṣa) religion"; and even in the Gītā, the Blessed Lord has, before mentioning the worship of His perceptible form, said with the same object, that this Path of Devotion is:

rājavidyā rājaguhyaṃ pavitram idam uttamam |
pratyakṣāvagamaṃ dharmyaṃ susukhaṃ kartum avyayam ||
  (Bhagavadgītā 9.2),

That is, "the most superior among all Vidyās and all mysticisms, (rāja-vidyā and rāja-guhya), excellent, sacred, literally VISIBLE, consistent with Religion, easily observable, and inexhaustible".

The two compound words 'rāja-vidyā,' and 'raja-guhya' are analysed as: 'vidyānāṃ rāja' (sovereign of all cults) and 'guhyānāṃ rāja' (the sovereign among ail mysticisms); and in forming the compound, the word 'rāja' is placed first according to the rules of Sanskrit grammar. But instead of this, some people analyse the word 'rāja-vidyā' as 'rājñāṃ vidyā' (the cult of kings), and say that, when in ancient times Ṛṣis (ascetics) used to explain the Brahma- Vidya to kings, as stated in the Yoga-Vāśiṣṭha (Yoga-Vāśiṣṭha 2.11. 16–18), this Brahma-Vidyā or Knowledge of the Absolute Self came to acquire the names of 'rāja-vidyā and 'raja-guhya'; and that therefore, the Gītā must be taken to have used these two words in the same meaning, that is, as meaning not Devotion, but the Knowledge of the Absolute Self. As the path mentioned in the Gītā was traditionally followed by kings, such as, Manu, Ikṣvāku etc., (Bhagavadgītā 4.1), one cannot definitely say that the words 'rāja-vidyā' and 'rāja-guhya' have not been used in "the Gītā in the meaning of 'the cult of kings' or the 'mysticism of kings', that is to say, the cult or the mysticism, which was accepted by kings (rājamānya). But, if these meanings are accepted, it has still to be borne in mind that they have not been used in the present context with reference to the Path of Knowledge; because this chapter of the Gītā in which this stanza appears is, on the whole, in support of the Path of Devotion (See Bhagavadgītā 9.22–31); and although the Brahman to be reached may be the game, yet, in as much as it is clearly stated in the Gītā itself (Bhagavadgītā 12.5), that the Jñāna-mārga to be followed as a means, in the philosophy of the Absolute Self, is 'accessible only to the Intelligence' (buddhigamya), and therefore 'imperceptible' (avyakta) and 'difficult' (duḥkhakāraka), it is not likely that the Blessed Lord can now refer to that same path as 'pratyakṣāvagamaṃ', that is, 'perceptible', and 'kartuṃ susukham' (easy to follow). It, therefore, follows, on the ground of consistency in the subject-matter of the chapter, as also on the ground of the appropriateness of the words 'pratyakṣāvagamaṃ' and 'kartuṃ susukham', which can apply wholly and on all fours to the Path of Devotion, that the word 'rāja-vidyā' in this context indicates only the Path of Devotion. The word 'vidyā' does not indicate only 'the Knowledge of the Brahman'; and. it has been used in the Upaniṣads to indicate 'the means or oaths by which that Knowledge can be acquired', e. g., Śāṇḍilya-Vidyā, Prāṇa-Vidyā, Hārda-Vidyā, etc.; and all such various Vidyās, or paths, which have been mentioned in the Upaniṣads, have been considered in the third section of the third chapter of the Vedānta-Sūtras. It also appears from the Upaniṣads, that these Vidyās were kept secret, and that in ancient times they used to be taught to no one except one's disciples. Therefore, whatever the Vidya was, it was bound to be mystic (guhya). But, although these various mystic Vidyās or paths, which were a means for the Acquisition of the Brahman, were many, yet, among all of these means, the Vidya in the shape of the Path of Devotion mentioned in the Gītā, was the highest ('guhyānāṃ vidyānāṃ ca rājā', i.e., the king of mysticisms and Vidyās ~Translator.); because, this path is not 'avyakta' (imperceptible) like the Vidyā in the Jñāna-mārga, but is actually visible to the eyes, and, on that account, easy to follow. This is how I read that stanza. If the Gītā had supported only the Path of Knowledge, which is accessible only to the Intelligence, it is doubtful, whether all the sects of the Vedic Religion would have clung, to this treatise, as has been done by them during the last hundreds of years. The sweetness, affectionateness, and charm, which permeates the Gītā is due to its having propounded the Path of Devotion. The Blessed Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, who was the living incarnation of the Parameśvara, was, in the first place, the person who sung the Gītā; and further, instead of preaching the barren Knowledge of the unknowable Parabrahman, the Blessed Lord has given advice in the Gītā to Arjuna in different places like: "everything is invested in ME " (7.7); " all this is MY Māyā " (7.14); "there is nothing which is different from ME" (7.7); "to ME friends and enemies are alike" (9.29); "I have created this universe " (9.4); and ultimately, "I am the root of the Brahman and of Release" (14.27); or "I am the Puruṣottama" (15.18); and therefore, "give up all other religions and worship only ME, I will redeem you from all sins, do not be afraid" (18. 66) which is advice, which refers in the first person to His qualityful and perceptible form. On this account, the hearer gets the feeling that he is actually standing before a living, equal-visioned, extremely affectionate, and most reverential Puruṣottama; and his Niṣṭha becomes fired on the Knowledge of the Ātman. But this is not all; for, instead of dividing the chapters severally between Jñāna on the one hand, and Devotion on the other, Jñāna is amalgamated with Devotion, and Devotion is amalgamated with Jñāna, so that there is no- mutual conflict between Knowledge and Devotion, or between Intelligence and Love; and one experiences the sweetness of the Knowledge of the Parameśvara, while at the same time acquiring that Knowledge; and the feeling of Self-Identification with all living beings being aroused in the Mind, it acquires the most wonderful peace and the bliss of content, The KarmaYoga is further tacked on to this, like adding sugar to milk; then, what is the wonder that our philosophers have laid down the proposition that the Knowledge expounded in the Gila is, as is said in the Īśāvāsyopaniṣad, beneficial both in 'mṛtyu' and 'amṛta', that is, both in this world and the. next?

From what has been stated above, my readers will have understood what is meant by the Path of Devotion, what is the similarity and the dissimilarity between the Path of Knowledge and the Path of Devotion, why the Path of Devotion is called the royal path (the royal Vidyā) or the easy ladder, and also why, the Path of Devotion has not been referred to as an independent Niṣṭhā in the Gītā. But, it is now necessary to point out a position of danger, which exists in this easy, longstanding, and visible path of acquiring Knowledge; otherwise, there is a chance that an unwary wayfarer along the road may fall into that pit. This pit-fall has been clearly defined in the Bhagavadgītā, and that is the important point of difference between the Vedic Path of Devotion and other paths of Devotion, Although it is generally accepted that, in order that the human Mind should become attached to the Para- brahman, and that a man should acquire an equable 'Reason by means of the purification of the Mind, there must be some qualityful and perceptible object as a symbol (pratīka) of the Parabrahman in front of the Devotee, and that otherwise, the Mind cannot become steady, yet, as will be clear from history, there are grave disputes about what that symbol should be.

From the Metaphysical point of view, there is no place in the world where the Parameśvara does not exist; and even in the Bhagavadgītā, after Arjuna had asked Śrī Kṛṣṇa the following question, namely,

"tell me which various objects I should meditate on, as being Your Manifestations"
  (Bhagavadgītā 10.18),

The Blessed Lord has, in the tenth chapter, mentioned the Mind out of all organs, the Himalayas out of all immoveables, the Yajña by way of repetition of prayers out of all Yajñas, Vāsuki among the serpents, Prahlāda among the demons, Aryamā among the ancestors, Citraratha among the Gandharvas, the pipal-tree out of all trees, the eagle among the birds, Bhṛgu out of the great Ṛṣis, the letter 'A' out of all letters, and Viṣṇu out of all the various Suns, as being the numerous forms of Himself, which fill the moveable and the immoveable world on all sides; and He has ultimately said:–

yad yad vibhūtimat sattvaṃ śrīmad ūrjitam eva vā |
tat tad evāvagaccha tvaṃ mama tejoṃśasaṃbhavam ||
  (Bhagavadgītā 10.41).

That is, "O, Arjuna understand that all things which are possessed of excellence, wealth, or prowess, are created from a part of My effulgence; what more shall I say? I have pervaded the whole of this universe by only a part of Myself";

And He has given to Arjuna an actual experience of this proposition, by showing to him His Cosmic Form in the next chapter. If all the things or qualities to be seen in the world are only forms or symbols of the Parameśvara, how can one say that the Blessed Lord is in one of them and not in another; and who is going to say it?

It becomes logically necessary to say that He is near and yet afar; existent and yet non- existent, also beyond both; the eagle, as also the serpent; the death, as also the one who dies; the one who creates obstacles, and the one who removes them; the one who creates fear, and one who removes it; the terrible and yet the not-terrible; the pleasant and yet the unpleasant; the one who causes the rain, and the one who prevents rain from falling (Bhagavadgītā 9.19 and 10.32); and Tukārāma Buvā, a devotee of the Blessed Lord, has with the same import said:–

Tukā says whatever name you give; such name is proper for this Viṭhṭhala ||
  (Tu. Tukārāma's Gāthā 3065.4).

If everything in this world is in the same way in part a form of the Parameśvara, why should not such persons as cannot at a stroke grasp this all-pervasive form of the Parameśvara, take for worship, in the beginning, any one of these numerous things, as a means or a symbol for Realising this.imperceptible and pure form? Some may worship the Mind, others may perform the Yajña of wealth, others again the Yajña of prayer, some may worship the eagle, others may worship only the Sacred symbol 'OM', some may worship Viṣṇu and others Śiva, some may worship Gaṇapati, and -others Bhavani, some again may look upon their parents as the Parameśvara and serve them, whereas others might choose for worship a form which is much more comprehensive, such as the Virāṭa form made up of all created beings. One may prescribe the worship of the Sun, whereas others may say that Śrī Kṛṣṇa or Śrī Rāmacandra is better than the Sun. But, as the idea that all these Forms are fundamentally one and the same, has been lost sight of, as a result of Ignorance or Delusion, or as it is not to be found at all in some religions, a false arrogance sometimes arises as to the relative merits of these objects of, worship, and matters come to physical violence. If one for the moment keeps out of consideration! the mutual conflicts between the Vedic, Buddhistic, Jain, Christian, or Mahomedan religions, the history of Europe- shows us that matters had come to the point of the worshippers of one and the same qualityful and perceptible Christ, murdering each other, as a result of difference in ritualistic practices; and quarrels are even now going on among the worshippers of the Qualityful, on the ground that the deity worshipped by one is better than the deity worshipped by another, because the former is Formless, and the latter has a Form. Unless one explains whether there is a way for bringing these quarrels arising in the Path of Devotion to a close, and if so, which that way is, the Path of devotion does, not become free from danger; and we shall, therefore, consider what the reply of the Gītā to that question is. I need not say that in the present state of India, it is of special importance to give a proper answer to this question.

The methods of contemplating in the first place, or placing before one's eyes as a symbol, the form of any one of the numerous qualityful Manifestations of the Parameśvara, in order to acquire Equability of Reason by steadying the Mind, have been described in the ancient Upaniṣads; and ultimately in the later Upaniṣads like the Rāma-Tāpanī, or the Gītā, the unlimited and concentrated worship of a human-formed, qualityful Parameśvara has been considered as the principal means of reaching the Parameśvara. But, although the worship of Vasudeva has been given an important position in the Gītā, in so far as it is a means to an end, yet considering the matter from the Metaphysical point of view, it has been stated in the Vedānta-Sūtras (Vedānta-Sūtras 4.1.4), as also further on in the Gītā itself, that a symbol (pratīka) is only a kind of means, and that the true all-pervading and permanent Parameśvara cannot be limited to any one of these symbols. What more shall I say? Whatever qualityful, that is, Name-d and Form-ed perceptible object is taken, it is nothing but Māyā, and he who wishes to see the true Parameśvara, must ultimately extend his vision beyond such qualityful forms.

It is clear that no manifestation, out of the many manifestations of the Parameśvara, can be more comprehensive than the Cosmic Form which was shown by the Blessed Lord to Arjuna; yet, after this same Cosmic Form had been shown by the Blessed Lord to Nārada, He has said,

"this form which you see is not My true form, this is only a Māyā; and in order to see My real form, you must go beyond this Māyā" (see Nārāyaṇīya dharma, Śān. 339.44);

And even in the Gītā, the Blessed Lord has clearly given to Arjuna the advice that:–

avyaktaṃ vyaktim āpannaṃ manyante mām abuddhayaḥ |
paraṃ bhāvam ajānanto mamāvyayam anuttamam ||
  (Bhagavadgītā 7.24),

That is, "although I am imperceptible, ignorant people call Me perceptible, or endowed with a human form (Bhagavadgītā 9.1); but that is not My true form; My imperceptible form is My true form".

Also, although the Upaniṣads prescribe the Mind, the Speech, the Sun, Ether, and numerous other perceptible and imperceptible symbols of the Brahman for purposes of worship, yet, it is ultimately clearly stated, that that which is accessible to the eyes, or the speech, or the ears, is not the true Brahman, but:

yan manasā na manute yenā 'hur mano matam |
tad eva brahma tvaṃ viddhi nedaṃ yad idam upāsate ||
  (Kenopaniṣat (= Talavakāropaniṣat) 1.5–8).

That is " That, which cannot be meditated on by the Mind, but on the contrary, the power of meditation of Which includes- the Mind, is the true Brahman; that which is worshipped (as a 'pratīka', i.e., symbol) is not the (true) Brahman ";

And the same meaning is conveyed by the canon (sūtra) "neti, neti". Take the Mind, or Ether (ākāśa), or according to the path of the worship of the Perceptible, take the Śāligrāma, or the Śivaliṅga, or the tangible form of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, or of some Saint, or take a temple which contains a stone or a metal idol of a god, or a masjid or a temple which contains no idol; all these are mere means for steadying the Mind, that is, for fixing the Mind on the Parameśvara, like the go-carts of little children. However much these symbols, taken by different persons according to their own liking or according to their respective spiritual qualifications, may be loved by them, like the go-carts of children, which are simple or coloured, or of sandal-wood, or to which a tambourine or a jingling bell is attached, yet, one must realise that the true Parameśvara is 'not in these symbols'–'na pratīke na hi saḥ' (Vedānta-Sūtras 4.1.4), but is beyond them; and for the same reason, is the proposition laid down in the Bhagavadgītā that: "those ignorant persons, who do not understand My Māyā, do not Realise Me" (Bhagavadgītā 7.13–15). The.power of redemption which is contained in the Path of Devotion is not a power possessed by some living or lifeless image, or by a building of brick and mortar; but that belief, which every worshipper for his own convenience holds with reference to such image, to the effect that it is the Īśvara, is the thing which really redeems. Let the symbol be of stone, or of metal, or of anything else, it can never be worth more than what it really is. Whatever may be your faith with reference to the symbol, it is the fruit of your Devotion, which the Parameśvara–not the symbol–gives you. Then, where is the sense of fighting that the symbol chosen by oneself is better than the one chosen by another? If your faith is not pure, then, however good the symbol may be, what is the use of it? If the whole day you are engaged in deceiving others, then, it will be impossible for you to attain the Parameśvara, notwithstanding that you go to worship an idol in a temple, or go for worship in some temple which does not contain any.image, and whether every morning and evening, or on feast days.

Śrī Samartha has described persons who go into temples for listening to sermons (purāṇa) in the following terms:–

Sensual persons go to the temple for listening to the sermons;
but their eyes are fixed on the ladies who are present;
At the same time, those who have come with the intention of stealing;
steal your shoes and go away ||[3]
  (Dāsabodha 18.10.26).

If idols of deities or temples had any redeeming power in themselves, then even such sensual persons or thieves must attain.Release. Some people believe that Devotion to the Parameśvara is only for the purposes of Release; but those persons who wish to obtain some Material or selfish object, must demote themselves to the worship of different deities; and it is said in the Gītā itself that such persons run after these deities, with such selfish motives (Bhagavadgītā 7.20). But the Gītā itself says later on, that the idea that these deities, of their own accord, give you the reward of the worship is philosophically incorrect (Bhagavadgītā 7.21). It is a definite doctrine of the Philosophy of the Absolute Self, that whichever deities you worship with whatever desire in your heart, giving the fruit of that worship is not in the hands of that deity, but of the all-pervading Parameśvara (Vedānta-Sūtras 3.2.38–41); and the same doctrine has been accepted by the Gītā (Bhagavadgītā 7.22). But, though the Parameśvara Who gives the reward may, in this way, be One, yet, as He gives a different reward to each one according to his good or evil intentions (Vedānta-Sūtras 2.1.34–37), the results of the worship of different symbols or deities are seen to be different from each other; and it is with this import in mind, that the Blessed Lord has said in one place:

śraddhāmayo 'yaṃ puruṣo yo yacchraddhaḥ sa eva saḥ |
  (Bhagavadgītā 17.3; Maitryupaniṣat (or Maitrāṇyupaniṣad) 4.6),

That is, "man is governed by Faith; whatever may be the symbol which is taken, as his Faith, so does the man become"; and in another place:–

yānti devavratā devān pitṛn yānti pitṛvratāḥ |
bhūtāni yānti bhūtejyā yānti madyājinopi mām ||
  (Bhagavadgītā 9.25).

That is, "those who worship deities, reach the sphere of the deities; those who worship ancestors, the sphere of ancestors; those who worship the departed, reach that of the dead; and those who worship Me, reach Me"; or again in a third place:–

ye yathā māṃ prapadyante tāṃs tathaiva bhajāmy aham |
  (Bhagavadgītā 4.11).

That is, "in that way, in which people are devoted to Me, in the same way, am I devoted to them".

The Śāligrāma is only a stone. If you entertain the faith with reference to it that it is Viṣṇu, you will reach the sphere of Viṣṇu; if you worship the same symbol believing that it is some past being like a Yakṣa, or a demon, etc., you will reach the spheres of past beings like a Yakṣa or a demon, etc. All our philosophers have accepted the doctrine that the fruit is of your Faith, and not of the symbol; and the same is the reason for the ordinary practice of instilling life into an image (making a prāṇa-pratiṣṭhā) before taking the image for worship. That deity, which is believed to inhabit any particular image, in worshipping that image, is the deity of which a prāṇa-pratiṣṭhā is made in that image. No one worships any image without believing that it is inhabited by the Parameśvara; that is, merely believing that it is earth, or stone, or metal, having some particular form; and if any one worships it in that way, Then, the man will undoubtedly reach the state of the earth, or the stone, or the metal, according to the above-mentioned doctrine enunciated by the Gītā. When in this way a difference has been made between the symbol, and the Faith with which that symbol is worshipped, no reason remains for quarrelling about the symbol, whatever that symbol may be; because, the idea that the symbol is the god or Parameśvara, no more remains. That omnipresent Parameśvara, Who gives the reward for all Actions, looks only to the Faith of the devotees. Therefore, Tukārāma has said that the 'Parameśvara takes into account -only the Faith', and not the symbol which is worshipped.

Those persons who have realised this principle of the Path of Devotion, do not obstinately insist that "that form of the Īśvara or the symbol which I worship, is the only true symbol, and that other symbols are false"; but he has the charitable feeling, that whatever may be the symbol which is taken, all -those who worship the Parameśvara through that symbol, reach one and the same Parameśvara; and then he realises the truth of the statement of the Blessed Lord that:–

ye 'py anyadevatābhaktā yajante śraddhayānvitāḥ |
te 'pi mām eva kaunteya yajanty avidhipūrvakam ||
  (Bhagavadgītā 9.23),

That is, "although the ritual, or the external routine, or the means employed, may not be such as have been enjoined by the Śāstras, yet, those who worship a deity with Faith (that is, believing that the pure Parameśvara is in that deity) worship (indirectly) only Me".

The same meaning has been conveyed in the Bhāgavata, with a slight verbal difference (Śrīmad Bhāgavatpurāṇa 10. Pū. 40.8–10); and in the Śivagītā the above stanza has been taken word for word (Śiva-gītā 12.4); and the same is the meaning of the statement in the Vedas that: "ekaṃ sad viprā bahudhā vadanti" (that is, "the one Reality is given various names by learned people" ~Translator.), (Ṛg-veda 1.164.46), From this it becomes clear, that this principle has been in vogue in the Vedic Religion from very ancient times; and the fact 'that in modern times, the fault of intolerance of other religions was not to be found in a man of prowess like Śrī Śivājī Mahārāja, who was a believer in the Vedic Religion, even when he was at the height of his power, is due to this principle. That men should not realise the true principle that the Īśvara is allpervading, omnipresent, omniscient, -omnipotent, and possibly even beyond all that, that is to say, unimaginable; that they should entertain a false pride about a.Name and Form, and insist that the particular perceptible form -which was taken up by the Parameśvara at a particular time, or in any particular place, by being born from particular parents, in any particular caste, with a particular Name and Form, is the only true form of the Parameśvara; and that they should, on that account, come to the stage of cutting each other's throats with a sword, is a proof of the most regrettable stupidity of men. It is true that the Path of Devotion mentioned in the Gītā is called a 'rāja-vidyā'. But, if one considers in which country there have been first born any religious preachers who have irradiated false begotisms in the Path of Devotion (i) by preaching, that: "My visible form is only a Māyā, if you wish to see My true Form, transcend that Māyā and go beyond", as was done by the Blessed Lord, or (ii) by Realising the unity of all religions by means of the sāttvika knowledge-full vision of "avibhaktaṃ vibhakteṣu" (i.e., "the unity in the division" ~Translator.); or, if one considers which country contains the largest number of followers of their opinion, I must say that the first place has to be given to this our India, When this philosopher's stone of a 'rāja-vidyā' and of a 'rāja-guhya' is in our hands, it is certainly a matter of great misfortune that some of us should put on our eyes the spectacles of ignorance, and say that that philosopher's stone is nothing hut a flint!

It is thus true, that whatever symbol is taken, the result got by following the Path of Devotion is the result of the belief with which we invest that symbol, and not of the symbol; and that, therefore, it is useless to go on fighting about the symbol itself. But, now a doubt arises that that pure form of the Parameśvara with which the symbol has to be invested, can very often not be readily imagined by many people, on account of their inherent nature or their ignorance. Then, how is it possible for such persons to place absolute faith in the symbol and attain the Parameśvara? It is not enough to say that in the Path of Devotion, the work of Knowledge is done by Faith, and that one should imagine the pure form of the Parameśvara by confidence or by Religious Faith, and' invest the symbol with that belief; because, although holding a particular belief is a characteristic feature of the Mind, that is, of Faith, yet, one cannot do without supporting that Faith by Intelligence, since, Faith and Love, like all other mental qualities, are by themselves to a certain extent blind, and they, by themselves, cannot understand to which object one should pin one's faith, and which not, or what one should love and what not. This question must be solved by everybody by his own Intelligence; because, there is no other organ except the Intelligence which can discriminate; and, therefore, though the Intelligence of a particular person might not be very keen, yet, it must be capable of, at any rate, determining on what things to pin his faith; otherwise, this blind Faith and this blind Love will both be deceived and 'fair into a pit-fall. On the contrary, if one exercises only his Intelligence without Faith, there is no saying what turn it will perversely take; for, the keener the Intelligence, the wilder will be its run. Besides, as has been stated by me already in the beginning of this chapter, mere Knowledge acquired by Intelligence is not capable of doing anything useful, unless it is supplemented by mental processes like Faith etc.; and therefore, Faith and Knowledge or Mind and Reason have always to be linked 'together. But, in as much as the Mind and the Reason are both manifestations of the three-constituented Matter, each of them can from birth naturally fall into the three classes, sāttvika, rājasa, and tāmasa; and though the combination of the Mind and the Reason be permanent, the natures, beliefs, and Actions of different persons will differ in the proportion in which these will be more or less pure. If the Reason itself is from birth impure or rājasa or tāmasa, then, as the decision made by it as to a particular thing being good or bad will be wrong, blind Faith, though it may be sāttvika or pure, will notwithstanding be misguided; and, if the Faith is itself impure from birth, then, the fact that the Reason is sāttvika is useless; because, in these circumstances, the Faith will not listen to the dictates of the Reason. But, ordinarily the Mind and the Reason are not individually impure; and if the Reason of a man is inherently impure, his Mind, that is, his Faith, is also more or less impure; and in these circumstances, this impure Reason more and more confuses the inherently impure Faith. We find in ordinary life that in these circumstances, however much of advice may be given to a person about the pure form of the Parameśvara, such advice is not fully impressed on his Mind; or very often–and specially if the Faith and the Reason are both initially immature and weak–the man takes a perverse view of that advice itself. For instance, when Christian Missionaries begin to preach to the ebony-black Abyssinian in Africa about the Christian religion, he cannot by any means get a true idea of the Father in Heaven or of the Christian religion; and it has been observed that whatever is said to him, is imbibed by him in an incongruous meaning, according to his immature Reason; and, therefore, as an English writer[4] has said, one must bring such persons to the state of a modern man, in order that they should be in a position to understand reformed religion. Although the preceptor may be the same, there is a difference between disciple and disciple; and Bhavabhūti means the same thing when he says that though the Sun may be one and the same, its light can cause fire by passing through a prism, but does not have the same effect on a clod of earth (U. Rāma. 2.4); and it would appear that it was principally for this Reason, that Śūdras and other ignorant classes were in ancient times looked upon as unfit for listening to the Vedas.[5] This subject-matter has been dealt with in the eighteenth chapter of the Gītā, and there, after stating that Reason is inherently of the three kinds, sāttvika, rājasa and tāmasa, (18.30–32), just as' Faith is of those three kinds (17.2), the Blessed Lord has stated that in as much as the Faith of different persons is in this way different from birth according to their respective bodily natures (17.3), sāttvika persons naturally put faith in deities, rājasa persons in Yakṣas and demons, and tāmasa persons put faith in ghosts and dead beings and spirits (Bhagavadgītā 17.4–6). But, if the fact of a man having a pure and impure Faith depends in this way on his inherent nature, a question naturally arises as to whether or not this Faith will gradually get better, and sometime or other reach the absolutely pure, that is to say, the sāttvika state after Devotion has, in the first instance, been practised according to one's own qualification. The above difficulty in the Path of Devotion is of the same nature as the difficulty which arises in the subject of Cause and Effect, namely, whether or not a man is free to acquire Knowledge; and the reply to both is the same.

That is why after having advised Arjuna in the beginning that "mayyeva mam ādhatsva" (Bhagavadgītā 12.8), i.e., "concentrate your mind on My pure form", the Blessed Lord has later on explained the different paths of fixing the form of the Parameśvara in one's mind in the following words:

"If you cannot concentrate your mind on Me, then practise doing so, that is, make a continual effort of doing so; and if you cannot perform that practice, then perform for My sake such Actions as will have the effect of purifying the Mind; and if you cannot do even that, then abandon the Fruit of Action, and thereby attain to Me" (Bhagavadgītā 12.9–11; Bhāga. 11.11.21–25).

If the inherent bodily mature or prakṛti is tāmasa, the attempt of concentrating one's mind on the pure form of the Parameśvara, will not become successful at once or in one life. But as in the KarmaYoga, so also in the Path of Devotion, nothing is wasted; and the Blessed Lord has given an assurance to everyone that:–

bahūnāṃ janmanām ante jñānavān māṃ prapadyate |
vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti sa mahātmā sudurlabhaḥ ||
  (Bhagavadgītā 7.19).

That is, "once a man has started on the Path of Devotion, then in the next birth, if not in this birth, he will acquire the true Knowledge df the form of the Parameśvara, to the effect that 'everything is pervaded by Vāsudeva'; and by the Acquisition of such Knowledge, he will ultimately attain Release".

In the sixth chapter also, the Blessed Lord has said with reference to those who practise the Karma-Yoga that,

anekajanmasaṃsiddhas tato yāti parāṃ gatim

I.e., "acquiring success, after many births, he reaches the most superior state"—(Translator.);

And the same rule applies to the Path of Devotion. One should start by imagining as pure a form as it is possible for one to imagine, having regard to one's bodily nature, of that deity which one wishes to invest in the symbol. For some time, the Parameśvara (not the idol), gives you the reward of this conviction (7.22); but later on, there does not remain the necessity of any other means of purifying the mind, and;this continued Devotion to the Parameśvara, which is kept going according to one's spiritual qualification, results in this Faith being purified; and gradually the Realisation of the

Parameśvara also goes on increasing, and ultimately the Mind acquires the belief that,

vāsudevaḥ sarvaṃ,

I.e., "Vasudeva is everything"—(Translator.);

And there no more remains any difference between the worshipper and the worshipped, and the Self ultimately becomes merged in the pure joy of the Brahman. All that is required is that the man should not give up his efforts; in short, the doctrine of the Gītā is, that in the same way as, the moment the man acquires the desire of practising the Karma-Yoga he is drawn towards complete perfection, as though he had been put into a grinding-mill (Bhagavadgītā 6.44), so also, in the Path of Devotion, when once the Devotee has consigned himself to the Parameśvara, the Blessed Lord Himself gradually increases his Niṣṭhā, and makes him ultimately fully realise His own form (Bhagavadgītā 7.21; 10.10); and that by this Knowledge (not by barren or blind Faith) the Devotee of the Blessed Lord ultimately attains Release. This state, which is ultimately acquired by gradually rising in the Path of Devotion, being the same as the ultimate state acquired by the Path of Knowledge, the description which is given in the twelvth chapter of the Gītā of the ultimate state of the Devotee, is absolutely the same as the description, given, in the second chapter, of the Sthitaprajña, as will be noticed by anybody who reads those descriptions. It follows from this, that though the Path of Knowledge and the Path of Devotion are different from each other in the beginning, and though some follow the one path, and others follow the other path according to their own qualifications, yet, both these paths ultimately come together, and the Devotee acquires the same state as is acquired by the Jñānin. The difference between these two paths is that in the Path of Knowledge, Knowledge is acquired from the very beginning by Reason; whereas, in the Path of Devotion, that same Knowledge is acquired by means of Faith.

But, the Blessed Lord says that this initial difference disappears later on, and–

śraddhāvāṃl labhate jñānaṃ tatparaḥ saṃyatendriyaḥ |
jñānaṃ labdhvā parāṃ śāntim acireṇādhigacchati ||
  (Bhagavadgītā 4.39).

That is, "if the man who is filled with Devotion pursues Knowledge by controlling the organs, he gets the practical personal experience of the Knowledge of the identity of the Ātman and the Brahman, and he soon thereafter acquires, complete Peace by means of such Knowledge";


bhaktyā mām abhijānāti yāvān yaś cāsmi tattvataḥ |
tato māṃ tattvato jñātvā viśate tadanantaram ||
  (Bhagavadgītā 18. 55).

That is, "by means of Devotion, one acquires the philosophical knowledge of who 'I', the Parameśvara, am, and how much I am; and after this Knowledge has been acquired (not before), [?...?] the Devotee comes to be merged in Me" (See Bhagavadgītā 11.54).[6]

There is no third way except these two ways for acquiring the fullest knowledge of the Parameśvara. Therefore, that man who does not possess in himself either Intelligence or Devotion, may, as has been stated further on in the Gītā itself, be considered as totally lost: "ajñaś cāśraddadhānaś ca saṃśayātmā vinaśyati" (Bhagavadgītā 4.40).

To the doctrine that, by Faith and Devotion a man ultimately acquires a complete Realisation of the identity of the Brahman and the Ātman, some logicians have raised an objection to the following effect, namely: if the Path of Devotion starts with the Duality that the worshipper is different from the worshipped, how will the person ultimately realise the Non-Dualistic Knowledge of the identity of the Ātman and the Brahman? But this doubt is based on con- fusion of thought. If all that these objectors want to say, is that when once the Knowledge of that identity has been acquired, Devotion will, to that extent, come to an end, there is nothing wrong in that position; because, even Metaphysics accepts the position that when the trinity of the worshipper, the worshipped, and the worship, is at an end, that which we ordinarily call Devotion comes to an end. But, if this objection means that the Path of Devotion, which is based on Duality, can never lead to Non-Dualistic Knowledge, then this objection will be proved to be groundless, not only by logic, but also by the experience of well-known Devotees of the Blessed Lord There is no objection, from the point of view of logic, to the position that the feeling of difference gradually disappears, as the Devotion towards the Parameśvara becomes more and more steady in the heart of the Devotee; because, even in the Brahmanworld, there is no difficulty in the way of globules of mercury becoming unified later on, though they appear as- separate entities in the beginning; and we Bee ourselves person- ally that the process of unification, in other matters also, starts with diversity; and it is a well-known illustration, that a worm becomes a hornet by continually contemplating on a hornet. But, the actual experience of saints is a more convincing answer to this objection than mere logic; and among all these, I consider the practical experience of that king among Devotees, the saint Tukārāma, as of the utmost importance. No one need be told that the Knowledge of the Absolute Self (adhyātma), which had been acquired by^ the saint Tukārāma, had not been acquired by him by reading treatises like the Upaniṣads.

Nevertheless,. in his Gatha, about 300 to 350 abhaṅga stanzas are devoted to the description of the state of Non-Duality; and in those stanzas, the doctrine of "vāsudevaḥ sarvam" (Bhagavadgītā 7.19), (i.e., "Vāsudeva is everything"—Translator.), or, as stated by Yājñavalkya in the Bṛhadāraṇyakopaniṣad, "sarvam ātmaivābhūt" (i.e., everything has become identified with the Self "~Translator.), has been propounded, as being based on personal experience.

For instance:–

As every part of jaggery is sweet;
so has God come to be everywhere;
Now whom shall I worship;
God is inside as also outside.
The film on the water
is not separate from the water;
Just as gold gets a name by being made into an ornament;
Tukā says, so are we.
  (Gāthā. 3627)

The two first lines have been quoted by me in the chapter on the Philosophy of the Absolute Self (see p. 318 above ~Translator.);. and I have shown there the complete similarity between the meaning conveyed by them and the Knowledge of the identity of the Brahman and the Ātman expounded in the Upaniṣads.

When the saint Tukārāma himself describes in this way the supreme state which is reached by the Devotee, as a matter of his own personal experience, it is strange that argumentative-people should dare to make such foolish assertions as:

"It is not possible to acquire the Knowledge of Non-Dualism by the Path of Devotion", or, "one can attain Release by putting blind faith in the Parameśvara; Knowledge is not necessary for that purpose".

Not only do the propositions that, 'the ultimate ideal in the Path of Devotion and in the Path of Knowledge is the same' and that 'one ultimately attains Release by the experienced Realisation of the Parameśvara', remain unchanged in both these Paths, but all the other doctrines, which have been mentioned either in the chapter on the Absolute Self, or in the chapter on Cause and Effect, have been left untouched in the Path of Devotion mentioned in the Gītā. For example, some persons maintain that according to the Bhāgavata religion, the universe was created in the following four-stepped way, namely, that Jīva in the form of the Saṃkarṣaṇa first came into being out of the Parameśvara in the form of Vasudeva; Pradyumna, that is, the Mind, sprang from Saṃkarṣaṇa; and Aniruddha, that is, Individuation, sprang from Pradyumna, thus making a 'caturvyūha' (i.e., four steps ~Translator.); whereas, there are others who believe that the true 'vyūha' of the creation was of only three, or two, out of these four steps, or of Vasudeva alone. It has been proved in the Vedānta-Sūtras on the authority of the Upaniṣads, that these ideas about the coming into existence of the Personal Self (jīva) are not correct, and that from the Metaphysical point of view, the Personal Self is an eternal portion of an eternal Parameśvara (Vedānta-Sūtras 2.3.17; and 2.2.42–45). Therefore, the Bhagavadgītā has not accepted this idea of a four-stepped (caturvyūha) evolution as pertaining to the pure Path of Devotion, and has accepted the above-mentioned doctrine of the writers of the Vedānta-Sūtras with reference to the Personal Self (Bhagavadgītā 2.24; 8.20; 13.22; and 15.7). In short, although the principles of the worship of Vasudeva and of Karma-Yoga have been adopted into the Gītā from the Bhāgavata religion, yet, it can be clearly seen that the Gītā has not countenanced any blind or foolish ideas about the form of the Personal Self in the shape of the Ātman (kṣetrajña) and of the Paramātman, which are inconsistent with the Philosophy of the Absolute Self. But, it must not be forgotten that, though the Gītā is so strong on establishing a complete harmony between Devotion and the Philosophy of the Absolute Self, or between Faith and Knowledge, yet, it becomes necessary to make minor verbal changes in the doctrines of the Philosophy of the Absolute Self in adopting them into the Path of Devotion; and that, that has been done in the Gītā. Some persons seem to have conceived the misunderstanding that as a result of these verbal differences between the Path of Knowledge and the Path of Devotion, there is a mutual conflict between the various doctrines, which are enunciated in the Gītā, once from the point of view of Devotion, and again from the point of view of Knowledge; and that there are inconsistencies, to that extent, in the Gītā, But, I am of opinion that these conflicts are not substantial, and that these doubts arise as a result of the doubters not having clearly understood the harmony which has been brought about by our philosophers between the Philosophy of the Absolute Self and Devotion. It is, therefore, necessary to deal in some detail with that matter here.

As it is a doctrine of the Philosophy of the Absolute Self, that there is only Ātman in the Body and in the Cosmos, which (Ātman) has become clothed in a Name and Form, we say from the Metaphysical point of view that,

sarvabhūtastham ātmānaṃ sarvabhūtāni cātmani
  (Bhagavadgītā 6.29),

I.e., "that Ātman which is in Me, is also in all other created beings",

Or again,

idaṃ sarvam ātmaiva,

I.e., "all this is the Ātman";

And the saint Tukārāma has with the same idea said:–

"Tukā says, whatever I come across; I think that it is myself"
  (Tukārāma's Gāthā 4444.4).

But, in the Path of Devotion, the imperceptible Paramātman takes up the form of the perceptible Parameśvara; and therefore, we find in the chapter on Devotion in the Gītā, the following propositions, instead of the above-mentioned propositions, namely, such propositions as,

yo māṃ paśyati sarvatra sarvaṃ ca mayi paśyati
  (Bhagavadgītā 6.29),

I.e., "I (the Blessed Lord) am in all created beings, and all created beings are in Me";


vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti
  (Bhagavadgītā 7.19),

I.e., "Whatever is, is full of Vasudeva;"


sarva bhūtāny aśeṣeṇa drakṣyasy ātmany atho mayi
  (Bhagavadgītā 4.35.),

I.e., "When you have acquired Knowledge, you will see all created beings in Me, as also in yourself";

And for the same reason, the Devotee of the Blessed lord has been described as follows in the Bhāgavata-Purana:–

sarvabhūteṣu yaḥ paśyed bhagavadbhāvam ātmanaḥ |
bhūtāni bhagavaty ātmany eṣā bhāgavatotlamaḥ ||
  (Śrīmad Bhāgavatpurāṇa 11.2.45; and 3.24.46),

That is, "that Devotee, who does not entertain in his mind any such differentiation that I am something different, the Blessed Lord is something different, and all other people are something different, but who keeps in his mind the belief, with reference to all created beings, that he and the Blessed Lord are one.and the same, and who believes that all created beings subsist in the Blessed Lord as also in himself, is the most excellent amongst the Devotees of the Blessed Lord".

Nevertheless, it will be seen that the only change which has been made is, that we have substituted the words 'the perceptible Parameśvara' for the words 'the imperceptible Paramātman' from the Philosophy of the Absolute Self. As the Paramātman in the "Philosophy of the Absolute Self is imperceptible, the fact that "the entire universe is pervaded by the Ātman, has been proved in that philosophy by means of logic; but as the Path of Devotion is based on personal experience, the Blessed Lord has now described the numerous perceptible manifestations of the Parameśvara, and He has, by endowing Arjuna with super- natural sight, now given him a visible proof of the fact that the entire universe is pervaded by the Parameśvara, (pervaded by the Ātman), (Bhagavadgītā chapters X and XI). In the Philosophy of the Absolute Self, He has stated that Karma is destroyed by Knowledge; but, as it is a doctrine of the Path of Devotion, that there is nothing else in the world except the qualityful Parameśvara, and that He is Himself Knowledge as also Action, the Knower as also the Doer, and the One who causes Action as also the one who gives the Fruit of Action, there is now made no differentiation between different Actions (karma) such as, 'saṃcita', 'prārabdha', 'kriyamāṇa' etc.; and it is stated "that the One "Who gives the desire to perform the Action, as also the Fruit, and the One Who destroys the bondage of the Action, is the Parameśvara alone.

For instance, the saint Tukārāma, imagining himself in solitude with the Parameśvara, lovingly but fearlessly asks Him:

O, Pāṇḍuraṅga, listen to what I say;
I have to say something to You in solitude;
If I can be redeemed by my 'saṃcita'
then what is the use of You?
  (Gāthā, 499);

And he conveys the same meaning in another place in the following words, namely,

Neither 'prārabdha,' nor 'kriyamāṇa,
nor 'saṃcita' exists for the Devotee;
If he sees that the Parameśvara alone has become everything;
and has pervaded everything in and out ||
  (Gāthā, 1023);

And it has been stated by the Blessed Lord even in the Bhagavadgītā that,

īśvaraḥ sarvabhūtānāṃ hṛddeśe 'rjuna tiṣṭhati

I.e., "the Blessed Lord Himself has His abode in the heart of all persons, and makes them do all Actions mechanically".

It has been proved in the chapter on Cause and Effect, that the Ātman is absolutely free to acquire Knowledge; but instead of that, there now occur statements in the chapter on Devotion, to the effect that the Reason itself is guided by the Parameśvara, such as,

tasya tasyācalāṃ śraddhāṃ tām eva vidadhāmy aham
  (Bhagavadgītā 7.21),

I.e., "Whatever form of deity any Devotee may desire to worship with Devotion, I steady his devotion thereon"—(Translator.)


dadāmi buddhiyogam taṃ yena mām upayānti te
  (GH. 10. 10),

I.e., "to them, I give the Yoga of the (equable) Reason, to enable them to come and reach me"—(Translator.);

And in as much as all the Action, which, is performed in the universe, is carried on by the authority of the Parameśvara, it is stated in the Philosophy of Devotion, that the wind blows out of dread of His anger, and that the Sun and the Moon rotate as a result of His strength (Kaṭhopaniṣad 6.3, Bṛhadāraṇyakopaniṣad 3.8.9); nay, that even the leaf of a tree does not move unless He desires it; and on that account, we come across statements in the Philosophy of Devotion, that man is only a tool which is put forward (Bhagavadgītā 11. 33); and that the Parameśvara inhabits his heart, and makes him mechanically perform all his various actions like a machine. Tukārāma Buvā says:-

The created being is only a nominal doer;
his life is wasted in saying 'this is mine', 'this is mine'.
  (Tukārāma's Gāthā 2310. 4).

In order to carry on properly the various activities of the world and to maintain its beneficial condition, it is necessary that everybody must continue performing Action; and the summary of the advice given above is, that instead of performing these Actions with the feeling that they are 'mine', as is done by ignorant people, the Jñānin should perform all Actions till death with the idea of dedicating them to the Brahman, consistently with the principle enunciated in the

Īśāvāsyopaniṣad; and the same advice has been preached to Arjuna by the Blessed Lord in the following words:–

yat karoṣi yad aśnāsi yaj juhoṣi dadāsi yat |
yat tapasyasi kaunteya tat kuruṣva madarpaṇam ||
  (Bhagavadgītā 9.27)

That is, "whatever you do, or eat, or offer by way of sacrifice,. or give, or perform by way of austerity, dedicate all that to Me,"

So that you will not be caught in the bondage of the Karma.

This very stanza from the Bhagavadgītā has been taken into the Śiva-gītā; and the same meaning has been conveyed in the following stanza in the Bhāgavata:–

kāyena vācā manasendriyair vā buddhyātmanā vā 'nusṛtasvabhāvāt |
karoti yad yat sakalaṃ parasmai nārāyaṇāyeti samarpayet tat ||
  (Śrīmad Bhāgavatpurāṇa 11.2.26),

That is, "all that we do, as a result of the inspiration of the Body or Speech, or Mind, or of the organs, or of the Intelligence, or of the Ātman, or according to our inherent nature, should be dedicated by us to the highest of the highest (parātpara) Nārāyaṇa".

In short, that which is known as the combination of Knowledge and Action, or the Abandonment of the Hope of Fruit, or as Action performed with the idea of dedicating it to the Brahman (Bhagavadgītā 4.24; 5.10; 12.12) in the Philosophy of the Absolute Self, is now known as "Action performed with the idea of dedicating it to Śrī Kṛṣṇa". At the root of the fact that persons who follow the Path of Devotion utter the words 'Govinda', 'Govinda' each time they partake of food, is the idea of dedicating everything to Śrī Kṛṣṇa. The Jñānin Janaka said that all his activities were carried on by him desirelessly, for public welfare; and the Devotees of the Blessed Lord perform even the Action of partaking of food or drink, with the sole idea of dedicating it to Śrī Kṛṣṇa. The prevalent practice of uttering the words, 'idaṃ kṛṣṇārpaṇam astu" (i.e. "this is dedicated to Śrī Kṛṣṇa" ~Translator.) uttered at the end of feasts given to Brahmins, or other religious performances, or of making an oblation of water with the words, "harir dātā harir bhoktā" (i.e., "the Blessed Lord is the Giver, the Blessed Lord is the Enjoyer" ~Translator.) owes its origin to the above stanza from the Bhagavadgītā. It is true that the same thing has now happened to these utterances, as happens when the ear-ornaments disappear and the holes in the ear, which held those ornaments, remain; and the officiating utters these words like a parrot, without understanding the true deep import conveyed by them; and the person who gives the feast, performs the physical exercise of making an oblation of water, like a deaf person; but, if we go to the root of the matter, this is nothing but a way of performing all Actions, after having given up the Hope of Fruit; and if one makes fun of this practice, the practice does not come into disrepute, but the person who makes fun, only makes an exhibition of his own ignorance. If everyone performs all his Actions in this life–and even the Action of remaining alive–with the idea of dedicating them to Śrī Kṛṣṇa, and abandoning the Hope of Fruit, where is the room for a sinful desire, and how can any person perform any sinful Action? And also, where is the necessity of separately giving the advice that one should perform Action for the benefit of others, or even sacrifice one's life for the benefit of others? As both one's self, and everyone else, has been included in the Parameśvara, and as the Parameśvara is included in one 's self and everyone else, both one's-interest and others-interest are merged in the highest goal in the shape of the dedication to Śrī Kṛṣṇa; and then, the following words of the saint Tukārāma, namely, "the incarnations of saints are for the benefit of the world I they labour their own bodies by philanthropy", applies everywhere. I have proved logically in the last chapter, that there is no difficulty about the personal maintenance of that person, who performs all Actions with the idea of dedicating them to Śrī Kṛṣṇa; and it is with the same purport that the Blessed Lord has now conveyed the assurance in the Philosophy of Devotion in the Gītā that: "teṣāṃ nityābhiyuktānāṃ yogakṣemaṃ vahāmy aham" (Bhagavadgītā 9.22), (i.e., "I look after the maintenance and welfare of those persons who are continually steeped in the Yoga " ~Translator.) It is, therefore, not necessary to mention specifically that the highest of the Devotees of the Blessed Lord have to gradually raise Devotees of the lower orders to higher stages, without upsetting their devotion, and according to their respective competence, in the same way as the Jñānins, who have reached the highest state, must place ordinary persons on the Path of Righteousness, without upsetting their Intelligence (making a 'buddhi-bheda'), (Bhagavadgītā 3.26). In short, all the doctrines which have been propounded in the Philosophy of the Absolute Self, or in the Philosophy of Cause and Effect, have in this way been left untouched in the Philosophy of Devotion, with only verbal differences; and it will be seen, that this method of harmonising Knowledge with Devotion, had come into vogue in India in very ancient times.

But, if a totally different meaning results from a verbal change, such a verbal change is not made; because, under any circumstances, the meaning of the words is the most important, factor. For instance, if we make a verbal change in the doctrine from the Philosophy of Cause and Effect that every- body must personally make an effort for the Acquisition of Knowledge, and for thereby bringing about his own Release, and say, that even this Action is to be performed by the Parameśvara, the ignorant will become idle.

Therefore, the doctrine "ātmaiva hy ātmano bandhuḥ ātmaiva ripur ātmanaḥ" (Bhagavadgītā 6.5), i.e., "one is one's own friend and also one's own enemy", is also enunciated in the Philosophy of Devotion as it is, that is to say, without any verbal alteration.

I have quoted above the stanza of Tukārāma,

"Who has thereby lost anything? I one has oneself done harm to oneself"
  (Tukārāma's Gāthā 4448),
  (See p. 388 above–Trans).

But the saint Tukārāma has in a still more explicit way said:–

"There is not with God, the bundle of Release;
that He can come and give it to you, as an object by itself;
One must conquer one's organs and liberate one's mind;
from the objects of pleasure.
  (Tukārāma's Gāthā 4297).

I have quoted above in the tenth chapter a similar stanza from the Upaniṣads, namely, "mana eva manuṣyāṇāṃ kāraṇaṃ bandhamokṣayoḥ," (i.e., "the Mind alone is the reason for the Bondage, or the Release of man"–Trans). It is true that the Parameśvara is the performer of, and the One who causes to be performed, all the various makes and breaks in the world; yet, the doctrine of the Philosophy of Cause and Effect, that He gives a reward to every human being according to his own deeds, which has been formulated in order that He should not remain open to the charge of cruelty or partiality, has, for the same reason, been adopted without any verbal alteration in the Philosophy of Devotion. In the same way, although the Īśvara is looked upon as perceptible for purposes of worship, yet, the doctrine of the Philosophy of the Absolute Self, that 'whatever is perceptible, is only Māyā, and that the true Parameśvara is beyond that Māyā', is not given up in the Philosophy of Devotion; and I have stated above that the form of the Jīva, according to the Vedānta-Sūtras, has been retained unchanged in the Gītā for the same reason. This skill of our Vedic religion of harmonising the natural inclination of the human mind towards the Visible or the Perceptible, with the recondite doctrines of philosophy, is not to be seen in the Philosophy of Devotion of any other people, in any other country. When these people once attach themselves to some qualityful form of the Parameśvara, and thus come into the sphere of the Perceptible, they remain entangled in that sphere; and, not being able to see anything else besides that form, a vain glory about their own qualityful symbol, takes hold of their minds; and when this happens, they wrongly begin to differentiate between Philosophy on the one hand, and the Path of Devotion on the other hand. But, as the dawn of philosophy had taken place in our country from extremely ancient times, there is seen no conflict between Devotion and Spiritual Knowledge in the religion of the Gītā; and, whereas the Vedic Path of Knowledge is chastened by Devotion, the Vedic Path of Devotion is likewise chastened by Knowledge; and therefore, whichever Path is taken by* man, he ultimately attains the same excellent state. The importance of this harmony between imperceptible Knowledge and perceptible Devotion, was not fully appreciated % the philosophers pertaining to the religion which adhered merely to the perceptible Christ; and it is not a matter of surprise, that from their one-sided and philosophically short- sighted point of view, there should appear to them an inconsistency in the philosophy of the Gītā. But, the most surprising part of it all is, that instead of appreciating this valuable quality of our Vedic religion, some imitative persons.among us have come forward to find fault with that very religion!

This is an excellent example of the saying in the Māghakāvya that:

athavā 'bhiniviṣṭabuddhiṣu | vrajati vyarthakatāṃ subhāṣitam ||,

I.e., "when once the Mind is engrossed by a false idea, even that which is true, is not appreciated by it" (Māghakāvya 16.43).

The importance, which is attached to the fourth stage of life in the Path of Renunciation mentioned in the Smṛtis, is not attached to it in the Philosophy of Devotion, or in the Bhāgavata religion. It is true that the religious arrangement of the four castes and the four stages of life, is also mentioned in the Bhāgavata religion; but, as the principal emphasis of that religion is on Devotion, that man whose Devotion is the most intense, is the best of all, according to the Bhāgavata religion, whether he is a householder, or a denizen of the woods or a Saṃnyāsin; and that religion does not attach much importance to these modes of life (Śrīmad Bhāgavatpurāṇa 11.18.13, 14). The state of a Saṃnyāsin is a very important part of the religion of the Smṛtis, but not of the Bhāgavata religion. Nevertheless,- there is no rule that those who follow the Bhāgavata religion, should never become Saṃnyāsins; and it is stated in the Gītā itself that Asceticism and Energism (Karma-Yoga) are both of equal value, from the point of view of Release. It is not impossible to come across people following the Path of Devotion, who have given up all their worldly activities, and become indifferent to the world, without having actually taken up the state of a Saṃnyāsin. Nay, we even come across such persons from early times; but I have clearly 1 shown above in the eleventh chapter, that such persons did not carry any weight at that time; and that in the Bhagavadgītā, Energism (Karma-Yoga) has been considered superior to Abandonment of Action (Karma-Tyāga). This importance of the philosophy of Karma-Yoga gradually lost ground as time went, and in modern times it is the common belief of even persons following the Bhāgavata religion, that the Devotee of the Blessed Lord is a person who- pays no attention to worldly affairs, but is steeped in Devotion, with total indifference to the world. It is, therefore, necessary to again explain here at some length what the chief doctrine and the true advice of the Gītā on this matter is, from the point of view of Devotion. The Brahman, according to the Philosophy of Devotion or the Bhāgavata religion, is the qualityful Bhagavan (Blessed Lord) Himself. If this Blessed Lord Himself carries on the activities of the world, and maintains the world by taking up various incarnations for the protection of saints and the punishment of evil-doers, it need not be said that the Devotees of the Blessed Lord must themselves follow the same example for the benefit of the world. Śrī Hanuman was the greatest devotee of Śrī Rāmacandra; but he did not give up the task of punishing evildoers like Rāvaṇa and others by his own prowess. Even Bhīṣma is considered to be one of the greatest of the devotees of the Blessed Lord, but though he was himself a celibate throughout life he still carried on the work of protecting his kingdom and those on his side, according to his own status in life, so long as he was alive.

It is true that when a man has Realised the Parameśvara by means of Devotion, he has no more anything left to acquire for his own benefit; but the Path of Devotion, which is founded on Love, does not eradicate noble sentiments like kindness, generosity, love of duty, etc.; and these emotions become on the contrary extremely purified; and then, instead of falling into the logical dilemma of whether to perform Action or not to perform Action, the Devotees of the Blessed Lord necessarily and naturally acquire a tendency, which promotes universal welfare and according to which,

"the incarnations of saints are for the welfare of the world; they labour their own bodies by philanthropy || "
  (Tukārāma's Gāthā 929.3);

because, they acquire a non-differentiating frame of mind, as described above in the eleventh chapter, according to which:

He who takes to his bosom; such as are helpless And he who shows to his male and female servants; the same kindness which he shows to his son. (Tukārāma's Gāthā 960).

If one says that it is the Parameśvara Who creates the world and carries on all the activities in it, it becomes clear that the arrangements of the four castes, which exist in order to satisfactorily carry on the activities of that creation, have come into existence by His will; and even in the Gītā, the Blessed Lord has clearly said that: " cāturvarṇyaṃ mayā sṛṣṭaṃ guṇakarmavibhāgaśaḥ" (Bhagavadgītā 4.13), (i.e., "I myself have created the four castes, according to the divisions of the qualities and of Karma" ~Translator.). In short, it is the desire of the Parameśvara that everyone should perform his social duties according to his own qualifications, and thereby bring about universal welfare (lokasaṃgraha); and it then logically follows that the Parameśvara causes a human being to be born in order to make him a tool for getting performed by his hands, a particular portion of these worldly activities, which are going on by His will; and if a man does not perform that duty which the Parameśvara has intended that he should perform, he incurs the sin of not having carried out the behests of the Parameśvara Himself. If a man entertains the egotistical idea that "these Actions are Mine or that I perform them for my self-interest", then he will have to suffer the good or evil consequences of those Actions. But the Gītā says, that when a man performs those Actions merely as duties, and with the idea of dedicating them to the Parameśvara, in the belief that He is causing to be performed those Actions, which He intends to perforin, by making him the man a tool for performing them (Bhagavadgītā 11.33), there is nothing wrong or improper about them; and, on the contrary, carrying out one's own duties in this way amounts to a kind of sāttvika worship of the Parameśvara Who lives in all created beings.

The Blessed Lord has explained, by way of summary, the full sum and substance of His advice in the following words:

"The Parameśvara remains in the hearts of all created beings, and makes them dance about like mechanical toys; therefore, the ideas that 'I give up a particular Action' or that 'I perform it' are both false; give up the Hope of Fruit, and continue performing all Actions with the idea of dedicating them to Śrī Kṛṣṇa; even if you determine that you will not perform those Actions, you will be forced to perform them as a result of your inherent nature (prakṛtidharma); therefore, you must merge all selfish interests in the Blessed Lord, and perform all Actions which have befallen you, according to your status in life, for universal welfare, with an eye to the highest ideal (paramārtha), and with perfect indifference to the world; I am doing the same thing; see My example, and act accordingly ".

As there is no conflict between Jñāna and Desireless Karma, so also does there arise no conflict between Devotion, and Actions performed with tha idea of dedicating them to Kṛṣṇa.

Saint Tukārāma, the king of Devotees in the Maharashtra, has explained his merger into the form of the Parameśvara, Who is,

aṇor aṇīyān mahato mahīyān
  (Kaṭhopaniṣad 2.20; Bhagavadgītā 8.9),

I.e., "smaller than the atom, and bigger than the biggest",

As a result of Devotion; and he has clearly said that he was living in the world only for the purpose of doing good to others, in the following abhaṅga stanzas:-

I (Tukā) am more minute than the minutest atom;
I am as big as the firmament;
I have annihilated by swallowing that body;
which is only a form of the Cosmic Illusion ||
I have gone beyond the trinity;
a light has been lighted in this Body
Tukā says that: " now
I survive only for philanthropy".
  (Tukārāma's Gāthā 3587).

He has nowhere stated that there is no more anything left for him to do, as is said by those who follow the Path of Saṃnyāsa; in the same way, the opinion of the saint Tukārāma on this matter becomes quite clear from the following other abhaṅga stanzas, namely,

Taking up the beggar's bowl;
fie on such a disgraceful life!
Such persons will by Nārāyaṇa;
be always abandoned.
  (Tukārāma's Gāthā 2595)


The Real-worshipper (satyavādī) performs all the activities of worldly life;
in the same way as the lotus remains in the water, untouched by the water;
He who is philanthropical, he who is kindly towards all created beings;
he is in the state of being merged in the Ātman.
  (Ga. 3780.2.3).

But, although the saint Tukārāma was a householder, his inclination was towards Abandonment of Action; and therefore, if one wants a full explanation of the doctrine of the Gītā, or of the characteristic of the Bhāgavata religion, namely, intense Devotion combined with Desireless Action, performed with the idea of dedicating it to the Parameśvara', he must turn to the work Dāsabodha, written by Śrī Samartha Rāmadāsa Svāmī, who was the 'venerable preceptor' to whom saint Tukārāma himself directed Śivājī Maharaja to 'surrender himself '.

He (Rāmadāsa) has said, that ordinary people should learn to perform their own Actions, by seeing how the Siddhas, who have become perfect by realising the pure form of the Parameśvara, keep performing their own Actions, desirelessly, according to their own qualifications, and in order to "make many persons wise" (Dāsabodha 19.10.14); and after repeating several times that "unless a man does something, nothing happens" (Dāsabodha 19. 10. 25; 12. 9. 6; 18. 7.3), he has said as follows in the last dixaine, in order to establish a complete harmony between the power of Karma and the redeeming power of Devotion:–

Strength lies in activity; the strength will be his who is active;
But in such a man there must be; the seat of the Blessed Lord. (Dāsabodha 20. 4. 36)

The same meaning is conveyed by the words:

mām anusmara yudhya ca
  (Bhagavadgītā 8.7),

I.e., "always remember me and fight";

Or, by the statement at the end of the sixth chapter that,

"even among the Karma-yogins, the Devotee is the most excellent";

And, there is also a statement in the eighteenth chapter that:

yataḥ pravṛttir bhūtānāṃ yena sarvam idaṃ tatam |
svakarmaṇā tam abhyarcya siddhiṃ vindati mānavaḥ ||
  (Bhagavadgītā 18.46)

That is, "man attains perfection (siddhi) by worshipping by Desire- less Actions, proper to his status in life (and not by flowers, or by words merely) that Parameśvara, Who has created the whole of this world". Nay; the meaning of this stanza and even of the entire Gītā, is that by performing Actions desirelessly, according to one 's own status in life, a man performs a sort of worship, devotion, or prayer of that Virāṭa-formed Parameśvara, Who is inside all created beings.

When the Gītā asks a person to perform the worship of the Parameśvara by Actions proper to his status in life, it is not to be understood as saying that the nine kinds of Devotion, such as, "śravaṇaṃ kīrtanaṃ viṣṇoḥ", (i.e., "saying or hearing the praise of the Lord Viṣṇu" ~Translator.) are not acceptable to it. But the Gītā says, that (i) it is not proper to abandon Action as being inferior, and to remain steeped only in this nine-fold form of Devotion; (ii) that one must perform all the various Actions, which have befallen one, according to the injunctions of the Śāstras, and that (iii) "these Actions should not be performed, as pertaining to oneself, but with the idea of the Parameśvara in the Mind, and with a mine-less (nirmama) frame of mind, believing that they are the Actions of the Parameśvara, and for the benefit of the world created by Him; so that, the Karma is not wasted, but on the other hand, these Actions amount to the service or worship of, or the Devotion to the Parameśvara: and instead of one's acquiring the sin or merit of the Action, one attains a blissful state". Those commentators on the Gītā, who follow the Path of Devotion, disregard this doctrine; and in their works, they explain the purport of the Gītā to be, that Karma or Action is inferior and Devotion is paramount. But, this summary drawn by commentators pertaining to the School of Devotion, is as one-sided as that drawn by the followers of the School of Renunciation. The Path of Devotion mentioned in the Gītā is based on Action, and the most important principle in it is, that the worship of the Parameśvara is made not only by speech or by flowers, but also by Desireless Actions, pertinent to one's own status in life; and that such a worship must necessarily be performed by everybody. And, as this principle of Devotion cum Action has not been enunciated anywhere else in the same way as in the Gītā, this must be considered to be the characteristic of the Philosophy of Devotion mentioned in the Gītā.

Although in this way, I have established a complete consonance between the Path of Knowledge and the Path of Devotion from the point of view of Karma-Yoga, yet, I must, before concluding, clearly mention the one important factor which is to be found in the Philosophy of Devotion in addition to those found in the Philosophy of Knowledge. As the Path of Knowledge is based entirely on Intelligence, it becomes difficult to follow for ordinary persons of poor intelligence; and, as has been stated above, it is easy for everybody to follow the Path of Devotion, as it is based on Faith, and is accessible by love, and visible. But, there is another difficulty in the Path of Knowledge besides its being difficult to follow. If one considers the Mīmāṃsā of Jaiminī, or the Upaniṣads, or the Vedānta-Sūtras, they are full of discussions about sacrificial ritual prescribed by the Śrutis, or about the Parabrahman in the form of "neti, neti" (i.e., "It is not this, It is not that "—Translator.), which are based on Abandonment of Action; and they have ultimately laid down that the right of performing sacrificial ritual prescribed by the Śrutis as a means of acquiring heaven, as also of reciting the Vedas and the Upaniṣads, which was necessary for obtaining Release, belonged only to the three upper classes (Vedānta-Sūtras 1.3.34–38)

How the women belonging to these three classes, or the ordinary men and women engaged in agriculture, and other occupations, for the benefit of society, according to the arrangement of the four castes, are to obtain Release, is a Question which has not been considered in these hooks. "Well; if one says that women and Śūdras can never attain Release because the Vedas are thus inaccessible to them, then, there are statements in the Upaniṣads that Gargi and other women obtained Perfection by acquiring Knowledge; and there are statements in the Purāṇas that Vidura and other Śūdras did likewise (Vedānta-Sūtras 3, 4.36–39).

Therefore, one cannot lay down the proposition, that it is only the men folk belonging to the three upper classes, who obtain Release; and if one accepts the position that even women and Śūdras can obtain Release, then, one must explain by what means they can obtain Knowledge. Bādarāyaṇācārya mentions the means:

viśeṣānugraha ca
  (Vedānta-Sūtras 3.4.38),

I.e., "the special favour of the Parameśvara";

And it is stated in the Bhāgavata (Śrīmad Bhāgavatpurāṇa 1.4.25) that this means, in the shape of Devotion cum Action, has been. mentioned as a special favour (viśeṣānugraha),

"In the Bhārata and naturally also in the Gītā, because the Śrutis cannot be heard by women, Śūdras, or nominal Brahmins (of the Kali-yuga)".

Although the Knowledge which is acquired by this path, and the Knowledge of the Brahman mentioned in the Upaniṣads, are one and the same, yet, the difference between men and women or between Brahmins, Kṣatriyas, Vaiśyas, and Śūdras does not any more remain in this path, and the special quality of this path has been mentioned in the

Gītā in the following stanza:–

māṃ hi pārtha vyapāśritya yepi syuḥ pāpayonayaḥ |
striyo vaiśyās tathā śūdrās tepi yānti parāṃ gatim ||
  (Bhagavadgītā 9.32)

That is, "O, Pārtha, by taking shelter in Me, women, Vaiśyas and Śūdras and other lower classes, in which birth has been taken as a result of sin, attain the highest perfection";

And this same stanza has appeared again in the Anugītā in the Mahābhārata (Śriman Mahābhārata Aśva. 19.61); and, it is stated in the conversation, between the Brahmin and the hunter (vyādha) in the Vanaparva, that the flesh-selling hunter has explained how Release can be attained by acting according to one's own duties desirelessly: and the same explanation litis boon given in the Śānti-parva by Tulādhāra, who was a merchant, to the Brahmin ascetic Jājali (Ma. Bhs. Vana, 206–214; Śān. 260–263). From this it follows that, that; man whose Reason has become equable towards all, is the highest of man, whether he is a carpenter, or a merchant, or a butcher, hy profession. It is clear that, according to the Blessed Lord, the spiritual worth of a man does not depend on the profession followed by him, or on the caste to which he belongs, hut entirely on the purity of his conscience. When in this way, the gateway of Release has been opened to all people in society, there arises in the hearts of all such persons, a strange self-consciousness, of which the nature can be ganged from the history of the Bhāgavata religion in Maharashtra. To the Parameśvara, women, or the lowest of mixed tribes, or Brahmins are the same. "The Parameśvara craves (only) for your Faith". He does not care for symbols, or for the black or white colour of the skin, nor does He care for the difference between men and women, or castes like the Brahmins or the Cāṇḍālas (tribes born of the mixture of Brahmins and Śūdras).

The saint Tukārāma says that:–

Brahmins, Kṣatriyas. Vaiśyas, and Śūdras and the Cāṇḍālas, all have the right;
As also children, women, men and even prostitutes.
Tukā says that he has found by experience
That even others, who are devout experience happiness by their good fortune.
  (Tukārāma's Gāthā 2382.5, 6)

Nay; it is a doctrine of the Gītā, that "however sinful a man may be, if he surrenders himself to the Blessed Lord, wholly and solely, even at the moment of his death, the Parameśvara does not cast him off" (Bhagavadgītā 9.30; and 8.5–8). Seeing the word 'prostitutes' in the above stanza, some learned persons, who parade their purity, might feel offended; but it must be said that such persons do not understand the true principle of Religion. This doctrine has been adopted not only in the Hindu religion, but also in the Buddhist religion (Milinda-Praśna 3.7.2); and there are stories in Buddhistic religious treatises, that Buddha initiated a prostitute by name Āmrapālī, as also a thief by name Agulīmāla; and there is a statement even in the Christian scriptures that because one of the two thieves, who were crucified at the same time as the Lord Christ, surrendered himself to the Lord at the moment of his death, he was saved by the Christ on that account (Luke. 23.42 and 43); and the Lord Christ has Himself said in one place that even prostitutes, who put faith in His religion would obtain, salvation (Matthew. 21.31; Luke. 7.50). And I have shown above in the tenth chapter that the same conclusion is arrived at even from the point of view of the Philosophy of the Absolute Self (adhyātma). But, although this religious doctrine is logically unquestionable, yet, a man, the whole of whose life has been spent in doing evil actions, will, in all probability, not get the inspiration of surrendering himself wholly and solely to the Blessed Lord at the moment of his death; and then nothing more results beyond mechanically opening the mouth in the throes of death to utter the letter 'Rā', and then closing it forever by uttering the next letter 'ma'. Therefore, the definite assurance of the Blessed Lord to everybody is that, if a man throughout his life, and not only at the moment of death, keeps the thought of the Blessed Lord continually in his mind, and performs all Actions pertaining to his status in life, solely with the idea of dedicating them to Him, then, whatever may be the caste to which he belongs, he is as good as Released, notwithstanding that he has been performing Actions (Bhagavadgītā 9.26–28 and 30–34).

When one considers and takes into account the sense of Equality appearing in the Philosophy of Devotion taught by the Gītā, and its capacity to enable all equally, to easily grasp the Knowledge of the identity of the Brahman and the Ātman mentioned in the Upaniṣads, without sacrificing the ordinary activities of worldly life, and without establishing any difference between the four castes or the four stages of life, or the communities, or even between men and women, one understands the true import of the summing up of the Religion of the Gītā made by the Blessed Lord in the last chapter of the Gītā, by way of a definite assurance, in the following terms:

"give up all other religions (dharma), and surrender yourself solely to Me; I shall redeem you from all sins, do not be afraid".

The word 'dharma' has here been used in the comprehensive meaning that, all the practical paths or means, which have been shown for acquiring the highest excellence of the Self, in the shape of reaching the Parameśvara, by remaining free from sin, while following the ordinary activities of life, are 'dharma' (duty). In the Anugītā, in the conversation between the preceptor and the disciple, the Ṛṣis are said to have questioned Brahmadeva as to which of the various paths, such as, Non-Violence, Veracity, Penances, Spiritual Knowledge, Sacrificial ritual, Charity, Karma, Renunciation etc., mentioned by different people, was the most correct one (Aśva. 49); and even in the Śānti-parva, a question has been asked in the Uñccha-vrtyupākhyāna as to which of the various paths, such as, the duties enjoined on the householder, or on the denizens of the woods, or on kings, or the service of one's parents, or death on a battle-field for the Kṣatriya, or religious contemplation for the Brahmin, etc., was the most acceptable path, as all these had been mentioned in the Śāstras as the means of acquiring heaven. These various paths of dharma or Dharmas may appear to be mutually inconsistent; but, in as much as the ultimate ideal of 'equality of affection towards all created beings' is reached by means of the concentration of the Mind by Faith, arising from one's taking to any- one of these paths, the writers of the Śāstras consider all these practical paths as of equal value. Nevertheless, as there is a likelihood of the Mind becoming confused as a result of its being caught in the various paths of the worship of different symbols, the final and definite assurance of the Blessed Lord, not only to Arjuna, but to everybody in the name of Arjuna, is that, one should give up all the various paths of Purification of the Mind, and should "surrender yourself solely to ME; I shall redeem you from all sins, do not be afraid".

Even the Saint Tukārāma makes his ultimate prayer to God, which entails the annihilation of diverse kinds of dharma, in the following words.–

Burn that knowledge, burn that wisdom; may my Faith remain on the feet of the Viṭhṭhala ||
Burn those religious practices, burn that contemplation; may my Mind remain fixed on the feet of the Viṭhṭhala.
  (Tukārāma's Gāthā3464)

This is the pinnacle of definite advice, or of prayer. 'Devotion ' is the last sweet mouthful out of the golden dish; of Śrīmad Bhagavadgītā. We have taken this mouthful of Love; now let us take the final sip of water (āpoṣṇī) [1] and; prepare to rise from the feast.


Footnotes and references:


See the explanation of the meaning of this stanza at the end of this chapter.


In this matter, the following stanza is mentioned as being from the Yoga-Vāśiṣṭha:

akṣarāvagamalabdhaye yathā sthūlavartula-dṛṣatparigrahaḥ |
śuddhabuddhaparilabdhaye tathā dāru-mṛṇmayaiśilāmayrācanam ||

That is, "as pieces of stone are arranged (before a child), in order to acquaint it with letters, so are idols of wood, or earth, or stone taken, in order to acquire knowledge of the pure and knowledgeful Parabrahman". This stanza, however, is not to be found in the YogaVāśiṣṭha.


It is usual in India to leave one's shoes outside the temple when one enters it for worship, and that is how the shoes are stolen.—Translator.


"And the only way, I suppose, in which beings of so low an order of development (e. g., an Australian savage or a Bushman) could be raised to a civilised level of feeling and thought, would be by cultivation continued through several generations; they would have to undergo a gradual process of humanisation before they could attain to the capacity of civilisation ". Dr. Maudsley's Body and Mind. Ed. 1873, p. 57.


See Max Müller's Three Lectures on the Vedānta Philosophy pp. 72–73.


An attempt has been made in the Śāṇḍilya-Sūtra to show that Devotion is not a means of acquiring Knowledge, by emphasising the word 'abhi' in this stanza, and to show that it is an independent goal' to be acquired by itself (Sū. 15). But this meaning is a distorted meaning, like other doctrine-supporting interpretations; and is not a correct and straightforward Interpretation.

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