Hello and welcome to episode 20 of The Ask Sri Vishwanath Show. Today I want to talk about the power of Bhakti Yoga, the path of devotion, and the most common mistakes people make on this path.
Today’s question comes from Taman. She says “I saw yesterday’s episode about yoga. I did not agree with you when you said Jnana yoga is better than Bhakti yoga. I thought each were separate parts that lead to the same destination. Can you clarify this for me?”
Vivekananda has a beautiful quote which I think applies here. He says “as the different rivers, having the sources from different streams all mingle the water into the sea. So oh lord the different paths which men and women take, crooked or straight as they seem, all lead to thee.”
So all paths lead to thee, there is no doubt in that. So let’s talk about why Jnana yoga is superior. I would like you to watch yesterday’s video as it had a question from a woman who was practicing Raja yoga, the one with the breathing and she was having difficulty achieving enlightenment so I told her to practice Jnana yoga.
So today I want to talk to you about the power of Bhakti yoga and the popular misconceptions around it. In doing so we will also answer your questions. The first issue with Bhakti yoga is that people mistake emotion for devotion. Vivekananda says the higher the waves rise the lower it falls. When you have all this, surge of emotion with Bhakti yoga is very short lived. When it falls it gets released from very unpleasant activates of sensual pleasures.
The emotional surcharge that gets released from all this dancing and clapping can be very dangerous. They think that this is devotion but they’re wrong, it’s not. Remember, devotion is a constant thing.
People who practice Bhakti yoga correctly get a lot out of it. A lot of it is natural but a lot of people mistake emotion for devotion. Emotion towards god is not devotion. This is a crucial mistake. That’s why Bhakti yoga is a slow process. People move slowly because they make a lot of mistakes.
Vivekananda says there are 5 steps to Bhakti yoga. The first stage is shanta. This is the starting phase. It’s a silent phase. The second step is sakhya. This is the friendship stage where you treat god as a friend. It’s all about having a relationship with god. The third is dasya where you think of yourself as a servant to god. The fourth stage is called vatsalya. This is where you treat god as a child. The final and highest stage is madhura. This level is very difficult to attain. Very few people reach this level. There are only, maybe a dozen people on earth who have reached this level. In this stage all men and women look up Krishna . All women look upon Krishna as their husband. It’s a loving relationship and it’s the highest level you can achieve.
People mistake emotions for devotion and they think they are at the highest stage but they are not. Chaitanya reached this stage and he preached madhura to the world but Vivekananda says that first he obtained the knowledge of Brahman through Jnana yoga. Ram Krishna says the elephant has two tusks. It used one to get food and the other to fight its enemies.
Chaitanya preached but for himself he used Jnana yoga. This is why Vivekananda says you must know the jiva. So all of these great men say that you must know the jiva and then you must master it. Then you become the jiva and you will be able to channel your knowledge through the manifestation of dharma. When you master the jiva it doesn’t really matter which yoga you channel it through because mastering the jiva is the most important part.
So understand this. First you must master Jnana yoga by knowing and becoming the jiva. Then the rest depends on your personality. If your personality is suited to the devotion of Bhakti yoga then manifest the dharma in this way.
The mistake a lot of devotee’s make is that they are unprepared. You need to be prepared. You need to know what’s coming. You need to be aware of the steps we mentioned earlier. It’s an elevation from the lowest to the highest importance. So first master the Jnana yoga then you can channel that knowledge towards other paths that suit your personality. Once you have the ground work correct the rest will be easier.
So be prepared and don’t get emotional. If you do get emotional you will encounter many blocks that will slow down your journey and make it a lot harder. So first practice Jnana yoga and master that.
Finally, another mistake is that people lack the fierce determination that is required to see god. You must have that determination. You must really want to see god. You need to want to see god like you are seeing me here on this screen. That is required for every stage.
I hope I answered your question. Remember you keep asking questions and I’ll keep answering them.