A short essay on Essentials of Bhakti: An advanced lesson for the faithful
Bhakti means intense devotion. The concept of devotion is present in a similar way in all religions, but in Hinduism there are certain extra subtleties which makes the concept comparatively more complicated. The concept of Bhakti in Hindusim can be expressed as;
- One reality versus many "Gods of worship"
- Deity worship through "murtis" (icons)
- The freedom to choose one's own favorite deity, at the same time not being exclusive
- The interactive ramifications of God's grace, fate, and free will
An integrated but brief presentation of all these will be attempted here in the context of Bhakti.
The concept of God in Hinduism is more complex than the naive conception of a Supreme Cosmic Power. The Upanishads take pain to explain how every physical expression amenable to sense perception is nothing but an expression of the divine. In fact, anything that has name and form is a creation of the human mind, so we have to transcend the concept of name and form to get to the true nature of God.
The Upanishads declare that there is a substratum of existence behind all the manifest presentations to the mind. This is just like gold being the substratum of existence in all gold ornaments, plastics being the substratum of existence in all articles of plastic. Similarly the substratum of mind named "Brahman" by the Upanishads permeates everything in the world. It is the common content of all that has a name and or form. For that very reason, it has no name or form for itself. It is spoken of as "THAT" in the neuter gender by the Upanishads. And this is the Unique Godhead of Hinduism. There is no other, there is no second. It is the source of energy, of all power, either in nature or in living beings.
But the difficulty with this concept is that there is no subject-object relationship in this context. Brahman cannot be the object of cognition, since brahman has no second. In fact nothing can be predicted about brahman without delimiting the in-finiteness of brahman.
"Do not procrastinate and never regret, May God help you remain at peace with yourself and the world around you. Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti!"
Author of this short essay is Vedic Priest in Livermore Temple, California, USA.
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