You are here: Sri Vaishnava Home Page : Bhakti List : Archives : January 2000

Re: About the Bhaktas and Bhakti

From: Balu (
Date: Sat Jan 22 2000 - 06:35:27 PST

Dear Sampathkumaran,

Thank you for your kind response. Before anything else, perhaps, a
clarification. I get the impression, by your use of quotation marks, that my
note might have sounded polemical. Should this impression be correct, my
apologies. I do not want to be either sarcastic or aggressive. But I do want
to have a discussion -- not to prove any point, but to understand.
Understand what? you might ask. In the form of questions, here are some

1. Could we, that is, ordinary human beings that the most of us are,
experience (or achieve the state of) bhakti? Why is it that the more one
searches for it, the more distant and unreachable it becomes? (The analogy
with finding 'the true love' does not work here because one does not know
what 'true love' is, where to find it, and it uniquely varies from person to
person. Our traditions (a) teach us about Bhakti, tell us that (b) with the
help of a teacher, and (c) in the company of the dAsas, any person could
find or achieve bhakti.)

2. While a profoundly deep emotion appears to accompany Bhakti, the latter
is *not identical* to the former. Why do I say this? In their *search* for
Bhakti, and before they find it, most Bhaktas constantly lament -- with deep
anguish -- that 'the karunAmayi' does not appear to show 'karuna' to them.
Surely, during this phase, their emotions for the Lord (if this is what
Bhakti is) is not (a) any less (quantitatively speaking) or (b) inauthentic
or fake (c) or any different. If it was an emotional deficiency, why do
these teachers not state this very obvious and simple truth about their own
emotions (that both you and I seem to know)? The imagery of love is used to
describe an emotional state (mostly of those who are searching for bhakti),
but bhakti itself does not appear to fall together with a particular

3. Here is yet another formulation of the above problem. One of the
impedements to Bhakti, the enlightened seem to say, are our *emotional*
attachments and entanglements in the world. They *do not* say that we are
merely attached to the wrong objects and people, and that shifting the locus
(or the focus) of these attachments is what bhakti is. However, they do say
that bhakti shifts these emotional bonds from the worldly things onto the
Lord. Does it not follow from this Bhakti cannot be an *emotion* but is
accompanied by one?

4. My questions might sound arid and, in the pejorative sense of the word,
'merely academic'. If they do, my apologies for the tone. My concern,
however, is neither. What amazes me (cognitively speaking) and drives me to
despair and beyond (existentially speaking) is the singular absence of an
issue of overriding importance. You see, our traditions tell us what it is
to be in a state of ignorance (where most of us find ourselves in), how one
is when one is searching, and what it is like when one has found it. (Call
the 'it', the truth, bhakti, enlightenment, or whatever else you feel like.)
What they do not tell us is also what all of us need to know: *how* did
those who were successful make the transition from one state to the other?
What helped them? Why do *none* of them speak about these, once they reach
whatever they reached? Why do they merely tell us that the truth is staring
us in our face, what that truth is, but not how they came to realise it? I
mean, all of us 'know' -- in some sense -- what they say. 'Knowing' this
does not help us; even 'believing' in this truth does not bring us closer to
whatever they were close to or united with. They too knew this truth while
they were searching, and it was not adequate for them either. At some stage
or another, they made the transition from a state of utter anguish to that
of total 'bliss'. What enabled them? Did they simply wake up one day with a
profound realisation, did a miracle occur, or is it something like the
lottery? If none of these, why are *all* of them so quiet on this utterly,
utterly crucial issue?

The more one reads, the more one thinks, the more one feels abandoned -- by
whom or by what, one does not know. My hope in posting to the group was (and
is) to find out how others think. It is my hope too to understand whatever
it is I do not.