“All of them – as they surrender unto Me – I reward accordingly. Everyone follows My path in all respects, O son of Pritha.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.11)
Friend1: I’m sure you are aware of the viewpoint that says bhakti is for the less intelligent.
Friend2: Reserved for women and so forth. They easily follow because they don’t have the capacity to understand Vedanta.
Friend1: Children, too. Basically, anyone who is not capable of being serious in renunciation and the like. Become attached to a specific manifestation of Brahman.
Friend2: Any of them is fine. Just pick one. It’s a matter of preference.
Friend1: Work your way up. Maybe in a future life you will be blessed with a body of intelligence, so that the pursuit towards mukti can continue with a real chance at success.
Friend2: Fortunately, I have never given that kind of philosophy even a second’s worth of respect. It was bogus to me from the beginning, even insulting.
Friend1: You don’t think bhakti, the devotional path, is for the less intelligent?
Friend2: At the end of the day intelligence, however it is defined, is not very important. It is a material element, after all, and at the final stage, called liberation, everything material gets left behind.
Friend1: Okay, but then why is the human birth considered auspicious? Athato brahma-jijnasa applies to a person with intelligence.
Friend2: Sure, because there is the opportunity to transcend the senses. Anyone on the bhakti path is already more than the person studying Vedanta. You’ve seen notable people in history who were ideal in renunciation, fully learned in the ways of the Vedic science, but who still wanted more.
Friend1: They were attracted to the devotional path. Janaka. Shukadeva. The four Kumaras.
Friend2: Think about it. They are today considered authorities on bhakti. They are mahajanas, or great souls.
Friend1: Okay, that is sort of where I was getting to today. You notice how even the people who downplay bhakti, who praise Vedanta philosophy and logical understanding instead, end up reading literature like Bhagavad-gita, Shrimad Bhagavatam, the Ramayana and so forth.
Friend2: Oh, for sure. They can’t stay away. If Vedanta were everything, they wouldn’t need to touch Bhagavad-gita. They certainly wouldn’t translate and comment on any of the works of Goswami Tulsidas, such as the Ramacharitamanasa.
Friend1: What is the cause?
Friend2: To what, being attracted by those works?
Friend1: Yes. Is it because there is something lacking in the other paths?
Friend2: Absolutely. Another philosophy based in speculation is that all paths lead to the same destination.
Friend1: Yeah, the “I’m okay, you’re okay” sentiment.
Friend2: It is more accurate to say that all paths descending from Vedic authority are legitimate. They bring progress of some sort, but there is no guarantee that you will reach the end.
Friend1: There is something beyond the end, as well. It is not like life in liberation is void of activity.
Friend2: There is something beyond brahmananda. That is the reason for the attraction to bhakti literature. There is still a thirst for something more, a higher taste.
Friend1: If Vedanta were for the more intelligent, then people would stay there.
Friend2: If it’s the highest destination, why leave? I have no desire to study that philosophy in depth. The Bhagavad-gita covers it enough for me. More pleasing is the setting itself, the battlefield of Kurukshetra.
Friend1: With Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, kindly serving as Arjuna’s charioteer.
Friend2: The image of Krishna stealing butter is enough to worship on a daily basis. The high philosophy is there to convince the doubting souls. It is also helpful to know when explaining to others the need to give up the materialistic way of life, toggling between bhoga and tyaga. But as we learn in the Bhagavad-gita, there is no need for such detailed information. Knowing only a little of God’s potency is enough. Everyone follows Him in all respects, so that explains why there is always some attraction, even by those who supposedly are above worship in devotion.
Bhakti for less intelligent reserved,
A higher understanding by me deserved.
So to Vedanta and elsewhere to go,
In theory and practice of principles to know.
But towards Bhagavad-gita going when,
Meaning that something higher then.
Krishna’s words to all attractive,
Bhakti life of liberation active.