“That which has neither end nor beginning must not be sectarian, for it cannot be limited by any boundaries. Yet those belonging to some sectarian faith will wrongly consider that sanatana-dharma is also sectarian, but if we go deeply into the matter and consider it in the light of modern science, it is possible for us to see that sanatana-dharma is the business of all the people of the world – nay, of all the living entities of the universe.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, Introduction)
It’s been a rough winter. In addition to being brutally cold outside, you’ve gotten sick multiple times. First there was the sniffles. Then a month later the fever made a surprise entrance. For the past few weeks, it has been this nagging cough. It just won’t go away. You went to the doctor and he prescribed an elixir. The only problem is the taste. You can’t stand it. It makes you gag almost instantly. Yet everyone tells you that the only way to get better is to take the medicine.
In this example the healing formula is both known and available, and it is still not accepted. There are many other such examples in life, such as the counsel given to substance abusers, the restricted diet offered to those who are suffering with a particular illness in the body, and the warnings of bad behavior and their obstructive influence in finding success.
Bhakti-yoga is the greatest healer. It is for the soul, not the body. Indeed, the body is where the problems start. That body accompanies birth. In illusion, the thought is that death will remove the problems, but that event is simply a resetting. After death comes birth, and the cycle begins anew.
Bhakti-yoga is the way to stop rebirth and also change the nature of the existence in between. No longer do you have to suffer in misery in front of the television, left with nothing else to do. No more do you have to wonder about your purpose in life. No more do you have to be unhappy.
The good life awaits the person who accepts the path of bhakti-yoga. Unfortunately, there are many things holding back that healing hand. Recognizing some of the more powerful obstructions helps to open the door to healing.
Bhakti-yoga is explained originally in Sanskrit works, such as the Bhagavad-gita, Shrimad Bhagavatam, Ramayana, and Brahma-samhita. The languages spoken today on the subcontinent of India derive from Sanskrit. Therefore an obvious impediment is sectarian designations.
“Why would I want to follow Hinduism? I’m fine with my religion. They have their books and language, and we have ours. I don’t need to go all new age to figure out the problems to life.”
Nowhere in the texts known as the Vedas is the word “Hindu” found. The teachings in the Bhagavad-gita apply to every species, to everything that is a spark of spirit. It is no more a system of faith than the law of gravity. By breaking the barrier of sectarianism, one can begin to accept the science of self-realization. If you know who you truly are, you can start acting in the way you are meant to.
Upon exiting the womb, man immediately chooses sense gratification. He doesn’t know any better. This is the way of the animals; it is their instinct. The human being begins to separate from the animals through education. The fortunate few who get to hear Vedic teachings still come upon an issue. They do give up the idea of being like God in enjoying so much. But instead of advancing further, they simply choose the opposite path: renunciation. The mentality is that through enough withdrawal from the material world, I can merge into the Absolute. I can become God.
Yet this way of thinking is also material. One person eats a lot to gain weight and another restricts their caloric intake in order to improve the look of their body. Both are totally conscious of their body. Bhakti-yoga is consciousness of God. More specifically, it is about God the person. It is said that impersonalism is the last snare of maya, the illusory energy of the material world. One who thinks that God is not a person, that He is simply an attributeless energy, does not get the full healing benefit of bhakti-yoga.
3. Lack of sobriety
Have you ever been in a conversation with someone for a long time and later on realized that you weren’t paying attention to anything they said? When the individual lacks sobriety, even the best words of advice won’t do them any good. The words will fall on deaf ears. The Bhagavad-gita presents the best philosophy directly from the mouth of the Supreme Lord, Shri Krishna. Yet if the individual is constantly intoxicated, how will they properly understand what they are hearing?
The first eighteen years in the life of the human being typically don’t involve any intoxicants. Yet in adulthood, which is supposed to represent maturity, there is addiction to things like drinking, smoking and narcotics. Intoxication holds back the healing of bhakti-yoga, and so those who are serious in wanting advancement follow four regulative principles to help them along: no meat eating, no gambling, no intoxication and no illicit sex.
4. Attachment to rituals
An immature stage in religious life is to ask something from God. Shri Krishna addresses this in the Bhagavad-gita. He says that four kinds of people generally approach Him. They all want something. It is only natural, since the Supreme Lord has it all.
catur-vidhā bhajante māṁ
janāḥ sukṛtino ‘rjuna
ārto jijñāsur arthārthī
jñānī ca bharatarṣabha
“O best among the Bharatas [Arjuna], four kinds of pious men render devotional service unto Me – the distressed, the desirer of wealth, the inquisitive, and he who is searching for knowledge of the Absolute.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.16)
In Vedic teachings there are other ways to get things, ways that are considered religious. You can perform a ritual in the home and worship a specific deity who is not the Supreme Lord. You can visit a house of worship and do the same. While beneficial for the overall advancement of the consciousness, bhakti-yoga is still absent. Love and devotion, without motivation and without interruption, is the height of living. If a person remains attached to performing rituals, considering bhakti-yoga to be mere sentiment, they don’t get the full benefit of the human birth.
5. Lack of renunciation
In the Bhagavad-gita we learn that a person takes up bhakti-yoga only after their sinful life has been completely exhausted. The real definition of sin is anything that keeps a person away from their constitutional position of servant of God. The idea is that it is impossible to take up devotion to God in earnest without being totally disgusted with material life.
yeṣāṁ tv anta-gataṁ pāpaṁ
bhajante māṁ dṛḍha-vratāḥ
“Persons who have acted piously in previous lives and in this life, whose sinful actions are completely eradicated and who are freed from the duality of delusion, engage themselves in My service with determination.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.28)
Chanting the holy names is most beneficial in this age: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. This mantra is a nonsectarian way to address God, who is for everyone. Hearing about God the person gives information about His attributes, His features. It sheds light into what He likes, what He dislikes, and what He desires from others.
If attachment to material objects remains at the same time, then the practices in bhakti-yoga will not be at full strength. In the modern age the number of attachments has increased, as there are so many objects of infatuation. A person needn’t renounce everything outright; simply abandon attachment. Everything will be left behind at the time of death, but consciousness will remain. Krishna consciousness is the ultimate healing hand, and it is there for everyone to feel.
For cure getting hand to heal,
For better in this existence to feel.
But many things that hand to stop,
Attachment to objects, never to drop.
And as sectarian way to think,
In impersonalism perhaps to sink.
Today so many objects of infatuation,
Chant holy names and remove obstruction.
Categories: the five