Five Sets Of Pairs To Help Explain Bhakti-Yoga

[Shri Krishna]“For those whose minds are attached to the unmanifested, impersonal feature of the Supreme, advancement is very troublesome. To make progress in that discipline is always difficult for those who are embodied.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 12.5)

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क्लेशो ऽधिकतरस् तेषाम्
अव्यक्ता हि गतिर् दुःखं
देहवद्भिर् अवाप्यते

kleśo ‘dhikataras teṣām
avyaktā hi gatir duḥkhaṁ
dehavadbhir avāpyate

Put the question before the gopis of Vrindavana and they would almost be insulted. This was the observation from Uddhava. Those village girls were praised for their connection in consciousness to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Shri Krishna.

Who would have expected perfection in such a place? There was no formal training. There was no fervent desire to change the outlook. The gopis were not on a mission to escape the cycle of birth and death or to be well-regarded in society as teachers of a specific version of spirituality.

The question is about which path is better: impersonal or personal. This is in regards to the kind of spiritual life passed down within the Vedic tradition. The impersonal is understanding everything in an abstract way. Removing distinctions. Advaita, or the absence of duality.

The personal is the opposite. It is within the category of spirituality because it leads to a specific destination. The distinction is that reaching such a destination removes the very distinction between dharma and adharma, or right and wrong.

This platform is difficult to understand, and so there are different ways to explain the uniqueness of the personal path. Shri Krishna says that the personal path is easier. For those who are embodied, the impersonal path is more difficult.

1. One inferior and one superior

There is the acknowledgment from the outset. I am inferior. I need help. I am the one weighing the options. I am the person who makes the choice. That choice is always there. This is the meaning to independence.

I am the inferior party and I am going towards the superior. The other person is better. They have something to offer. They are in a superior position, in all respects. I am not necessarily trying to become them, but I need their assistance.

2. One taker and one supplier

I can only take. I can only ask. I am proud of my abilities, otherwise. I consider myself as the cause to the results of actions, when things go well, but in reality the three modes of nature had to first cooperate.

प्रकृतेः क्रियमाणानि
गुणैः कर्माणि सर्वशः
कर्ताहम् इति मन्यते

prakṛteḥ kriyamāṇāni
guṇaiḥ karmāṇi sarvaśaḥ
kartāham iti manyate

“The bewildered spirit soul, under the influence of the three modes of material nature, thinks himself to be the doer of activities, which are in actuality carried out by nature.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.27)

There is one person behind nature. He is thus the ultimate supplier. It is from Him that I take. In the personal path, there is the inherent understanding of this difference. He is the person behind every kind of sacrifice. That ghee I pour into the fire in the official ceremony is ultimately dedicated to Him.

भोक्तारं यज्ञ-तपसां
सुहृदं सर्व-भूतानां
ज्ञात्वा मां शान्तिम् ऋच्छति

bhoktāraṁ yajña-tapasāṁ
suhṛdaṁ sarva-bhūtānāṁ
jñātvā māṁ śāntim ṛcchati

“The sages, knowing Me as the ultimate purpose of all sacrifices and austerities, the Supreme Lord of all planets and demigods and the benefactor and well-wisher of all living entities, attain peace from the pangs of material miseries.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 5.29)

3. One fallible and one infallible

It is one of the defects of the living entity in the material world. I commit mistakes. I know this based on the repeated recalling of past errors. I have a difficult time letting them go. I regret having made those mistakes.

In truth, I will make many more moving forward. This is because I am fallible. I do not have perfect memory. I lack perfect judgment. My perception is imperfect.

[Shri Krishna]The person on the other side is infallible. Therefore, one of His names is Achyuta. I can refer to Him as Achyuta for the rest of my life and that is sufficient in establishing the connection. He is Absolute, and I am not. That is why the name can be just as good as His presence.

4. One illusioned and one enlightened

This is part of the fallibility. The jiva soul is like God in quality, but there is a notable distinction. The jiva can succumb to illusion. This is known as falling from the spiritual world. I am in illusion right now. I cannot see clearly or perfectly.

The person I am worshiping is enlightened. He never had to reach that standard. He is always enlightened. He is knowledge personified. The wisdom He shared with Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra was already there. It had been shared previously, as well.

अर्जुन उवाच
अपरं भवतो जन्म
परं जन्म विवस्वतः
कथम् एतद् विजानीयां
त्वम् आदौ प्रोक्तवान् इति

arjuna uvāca
aparaṁ bhavato janma
paraṁ janma vivasvataḥ
katham etad vijānīyāṁ
tvam ādau proktavān iti

“Arjuna said: The sun-god Vivasvan is senior by birth to You. How am I to understand that in the beginning You instructed this science to him?” (Bhagavad-gita, 4.4)

5. One suffering through birth and death and one perpetually situated in the apparent spirit-body combination

The fall associated with succumbing to illusion creates the condition of birth and death. These paired events occur in a cycle, for as long as the illusion continues. This is the way to understand the mechanism behind reincarnation, or the transmigration of the soul.

The person I am worshiping is always one in terms of the spirit-body combination. There is actually no distinction applying to Him. His flute is just as good as Him. His lotus-like hands are not a part of the material energy.

[Shri Krishna]In this way, the individual following the personal path has many olive branches, so to speak. There is sufficient support, arriving from various directions, that there is every chance of success. There is direct oversight, since the other side is a distinct individual.

In Closing:

Why the impersonal choosing?
Where identity losing.

Where distinctions already known,
In every relationship shown.

Better from the provider seeking,
For proper understanding reaching.

Since never in duality is He,
His spiritual presence to see.

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1 reply

  1. Radhe Radhe ❣️ oshriRadhekrishnaBole ❣️ Hare Ram Hare Ram Ram Ram Hare Hare
    Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
    Jay Jay Shree Siya Ram

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