“Therefore get up and prepare to fight. After conquering your enemies you will enjoy a flourishing kingdom. They are already put to death by My arrangement, and you, O Savyasachin, can be but an instrument in the fight.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 11.33)
Friend1: You realize that many spiritual teachers don’t put a lot of importance in bhakti.
Friend2: I do.
Friend1: They say it’s more a means than an end.
Friend2: A mechanism. Something like putting on training wheels while learning to ride a bike. Focus on some Divine form, a physical manifestation of Brahman. Worship it with devotion. When you become Brahman-realized, then abandon that worship.
Friend1: It seems weird to me. You’re basically tricking yourself. Follow a lie in order to reach the truth.
Friend2: Yup. Well, they’re starting out with a lie themselves, that God is impersonal. That’s why they are able to give the crazy advice. They are shameless, like the thief.
Friend1: Those are some pretty harsh words. Is that your response, then? Do you have a better counterargument?
Friend2: Are you a reporter or something? Next thing you’ll be asking me to talk about this and talk about that.
Friend1: I hate when interviewers do that!
Friend2: It’s a sign of laziness for sure. They can’t come up with a real question, so instead they give orders, commanding the interviewee as if they were a dog.
Friend1: They’re basically saying, “Hey, write my story for me. I have a deadline to meet and right now I’ve got nothing.”
Friend2: The best refutation comes from Krishna Himself.
Friend1: Something He said?
Friend2: Obviously, there is that. He never mentions in the Bhagavad-gita that worship of Him is some temporary stop on the way towards the promise land. He never says to Arjuna, “Hey, I am not real. I am a temporary manifestation of a higher concept appearing before you in order to teach the highest wisdom.” He doesn’t say, “Worship to the point that one day you’ll become just like me, the Supreme Lord.”
Friend1: [laughing] That’s true.
Friend2: If Arjuna and Krishna were the same, there would be no point to the Bhagavad-gita. There would be no point to the guru-disciple relationship if every guru was actually God Himself. Then you’d have competing versions of God. You’d have God susceptible to illusion, which immediately disqualifies Him from being the topmost person.
Friend1: But yoga is everything. Link with the Divine. Meditate. Knock out distractions. Bhakti is just one way to do it. Jnana is more important, since it is true knowledge. Devotees are less intelligent; that’s why they are stuck worshiping an idol in the temple.
Friend2: Well first off, it’s not an idol. An idol is born from mental speculation; the deity is from the authority of parampara, which Krishna starts. Anyway, look at how Krishna behaves with the devotees.
Friend1: What do you mean?
Friend2: He puts them in positions to shine. Case in point Arjuna. The Supreme Lord, Bhagavan, even says to him at one point to act as an instrument. The Divine will is already set. Arjuna should act according to Krishna’s orders to get credit for that result arriving.
Friend1: The Supreme Lord basically elevates the devotee.
Friend2: Exactly. Arjuna is not famous today for being a yogi in jnana. He did not retreat to the forest. He taught through acting in devotion. The same goes for Hanuman. He is so famous today for his actions. These people are self-realized souls. They are never in maya, or illusion.
Friend1: Okay, I get they have a high stature. I understand that Krishna put them in positions to shine. How does that show bhakti is the superior form of yoga, though?
Friend2: It proves that there is activity in liberation. All other forms are actually temporary stops. Once there is perfect realization in jnana-yoga, there must be activity afterwards. Otherwise the person falls back into illusion, seeking a higher taste.
Friend1: I see.
Friend2: Everyone is eligible to practice bhakti-yoga, and to succeed at it. The same can’t be said of any other kind of yoga. You are out of luck if you lack intelligence, flexibility, the ability to work, self-control, and so forth. In bhakti even a monkey can become liberated. They can please the Supreme Lord with actions. He reciprocates by letting them shine gloriously for the world to see, to help others understand what a precious gem devotion really is.
Different when to others teachers to go,
How bhakti superior with confidence to know?
Krishna’s word alone to take,
How all other dharmas to forsake.
From actions also to learn,
How for Arjuna fame to earn.
Even after liberation activity coming,
Best when devoted to Lord becoming.