Position of Devotee greater than Jnani Yogi | Devotion to Vishnu is the greatest | Shandilya Bhakti Sutra-09

Whom do you identify most with, among the following options

Shandilya Bhakti Sutra Aphorism – 19

योगस्तूभयार्थमपेक्षणात् प्रयाजवत्

For both Yoga and Jnana, Bhakti alone is substratum, to bring final success or attainment. For example the Prayaja Ceremony is subsidiary to Vajapeya Yajna. Yoga and Jnana are always subservient to Bhakti.

Purport of Aphorism 19

The Bhagavatham is the proof

As Knowledge devoid of Bhakti does not yield final emancipation, redemption, so also Yoga of any sort cannot deliver the soul or even subdue the mind without first becoming subservient to Bhakti. The life of Saubhari and the sage Durvasa are shining examples that reflect the elevated status of Bhakti compared to all other forms of Yoga. The Lord in the Bhagavatham reveals that “For attaining me, neither yoga, nor Samkhya, nor righteousness, nor study of Vedas, nor austerities, nor renunciation are usefulas does intense devotion to Me.” It is to be understood that any type of pious activity, unless performed to solely impress the Lord, to attract His Love, cannot qualify as Bhakti. People try to gain health, prosperity, well-being, peace, satisfaction etc., by performing Yoga or through performing austerities and studying the Scriptures. But these activities cannot be considered devotional activities, to the least, because it is not directed towards Sri Vishnu or Sri Krishna, to please them, hence these activities cannot be considered Devotional acts. They maybe utmost considered to be practices to elevate material status, it does not follow the spiritual path and under no circumstances can this qualify as Bhakti. Furthermore the Lord proclaims “I am not known by Yajna, Tapasya or Yoga. I shine in the untainted heart of My devotees.”  As the same milk with its various qualities or attributes is differently observed through different senses say through the eye only its color, through the touch its coolness or heat or its liquidity but through the tongue when it is drunk, all the qualities are positively utilized, so also through karma, Jnana or Yoga one may have partial view of the Lord, just as someone may have a view of the Lord, through some skewed perspective, but it is only through unalloyed devotion, the full realization of God is attained.

Shandilya Bhakti Sutra Aphorism – 20

गौण्या तु समाधिसिद्धि:

Even attainment of Samadhi or meditation is secondary to Bhakti

Purport of Aphorism 20

The purified mind and crystallized consciousness has the capacity to transport the living entity to a platform of pulsating vigilance, alertness which is free of content, full with the bliss of Brahman, the unsullied aspect of Brahman, wherein there is oneness with the Supreme Being. However even this elevated state of a Jnani is considered secondary or even lower to the consciousness of one who is immersed in the transcendental love of Godhead. In meditation, one only gets the taste or the perception of the light of the body of Godhead and hence one is satisfied tasting the glow of His body’s effulgence. This is the highest possibility of a Jnani getting closer to the feature of Godhead. On the other hand, a Bhakta whose consciousness is immersed in the service of Godhead, tastes the actual glory of the Supreme Person, available to His total mercy, unlike the highly meditative Jnani who has to remain content with the Lord’s external effulgence.

Shandilya Bhakti Sutra Aphorism – 21

हेया रागत्वादिति चेन्नोत्तमास्पदत्वात् संगवत्

As is the general testament that one must give up attachment but attachment with the exalted devotee of Supreme Personality of Godhead merits the highest spiritual reward, so also anuraga (अनुराग), or deep-attachment to Uttama Purusha must not be given up.

Purport of Aphorism 21

Tasting the honey is superior to seeing honey

In the philosophy of Yoga enunciated by the great Rishi Sri Patanjalis, in his Yoga Sutra, where the Nirvikalpa Samadhi (निर्विकल्प समाधि), Seedless state of equilibrium where there is no trace of causes, is treated as a very high state of being. This state, although regarded as the highest state of being through the methodology of Yoga, the unalloyed exalted characteristic of Bhakti is far superior to all forms of Jnana and Yoga, as discussed previously.  As per Patanjalis Yoga Sutra, attachment, aversion and infatuation are the afflictions. The Jnani and the Yogi are ill-informed about Bhakti, where Bhakti is mentioned as a subsidiary means alone. Further, it is seen that Jnanis blaspheme that Bhakti is performed for Saguna Ishwara whereas the highest Reality is Nirguna Brahman.  Thus for a Jnani or a Yogi unless there is experience of a Brahma Bhoota or Nirguna Samadhi state, realization is not considered. Understanding of the Absolute phenomenon from the point of view of a Jnani or a Yogi is merely the Sat aspect or the existential aspect whereas for a Bhakta, the realization of an exalted devotee, Bhagawan is sat-chit-Ananda Vigraha, sum total of existence, knowledge and bliss. Jnanis and Yogis do not consider God as a person or personality, they only consider Him as power. God is to be understood not as a verb but as a noun. If there is power, there has to be a powerful wielding that power. One may feel the power, but unless there is a cause behind that power, the power can never manifest. This is common sense. It is important to access the powerful, rather than to remain simply cognizant of the power. It is okay to witness the honey in the bottle and appreciate the sight, aspect. But the real benefit of honey, is to be able to open the bottle and taste honey. This is the philosophy of devotion to the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Associating with Pure devotees is the greatest merit.

Companionship with the people who are averse to God and steeped in nescience is the gate-way to hell, but companionship with devotees of the Form of the Supreme Being Vishnu, Sri Krishna, Sri Rama, Sri Narasimha and other Vishnu Tattva is not only a gateway towards liberation but that which is aimed towards true welfare of society. When we are in close proximity with the exalted devotees of the Lord, the rays of Divine Love radiate from every pore of their divine persona and brings one closer to spiritual enlightenment. So when one goes deeper to his culture of devotion one shall have deeper attachment, pangs of Love towards the Supreme Personality. A devotee says “Oh Lord, that intense love for which the ignorant bears to the worldly objects, may I have the same for You, May I develop such deep attachment only to You.”

Shandilya Bhakti Sutra Aphorism – 22

तदेव कर्मिज्ञानियोगिभ्य आधिक्यशबदात्

Therefore without any contradiction whatsoever Bhakti is the highest of all and a Bhakta is superior to Karmi, Jnani or Yogi.

Purport of Aphorism 22

Undoubtedly, unalloyed devotion towards the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the highest. Sri Krishna proclaims in the Bhagavad Gita “A Yogi is superior to a Karmi, to a Jnani, to a tapaswi (performer of great austerities)and hence become a yogi. But among all varieties of yogis, one who has fully surrendered to Me and serves Me alone with intense devotion with spiritualized body, mind and soul is undoubtedly the greatest of all.  The Shrimad Bhagavatham says “Among the innumerable muktas (free people) and siddhas (possessing various types of psychological or material powers) rarely is found a devotee whole-heartedly devoted to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, whose Atma is completely satiated with Love. He whose be-all and end-all of life is to serve Me with exclusive loving devotion, With all energy of body, mind and soul, Him alone I consider as the greatest of greatest yogi.

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