Shandilya Bhakti Sutra Aphorism – 28
When they are subservient to Bhakti, they should be followed.
Purport of Aphorism 28
In the previous aphorism, we come to know that neither Karma nor Jnana Yoga can make the soul cognized with intuitive wisdom to the subjective realization of the Supreme Godhead. But, it is also true that both Karma and Jnana yoga are prescribed as the means by God Himself. Therefore as Upanishad says: “ One should never go without meeting his wife on bed, while she is at her flowering time, that is when Prakriti is congenial or displays her Unmukhini-Vritti. One should not outright neglect her merely thinking her as Maya. For a Karmi, Prakriti is like a dancing girl alluring the passion of the mind while for a Jnani, such a wife is to be divorced. But, for a Bhakta, she is looked upon as a faithful wife and a mutual helpmate to evolve perfection in life. So, it is said that one should break free from the shackles of the Ego, from Me and mine and engage in spiritual service of Bhagawan. This is the wisdom which must be obtained, that makes one devote everything in the service of Sri Krishna.
Realizing Sri Krishna’s divinity is the quality of Samvit. Samvit is a potency of Svarupa-Shakti. Further, a devotee engages in Shravana and Kirtana which are not only constituents of Bhakti but are the sine-qua-non of Bhakti.
Shandilya Bhakti Sutra Aphorism – 29
तामैश्वर्य पारां काश्यपः परत्वात्
Kaashyapa Rishi opines that Jiva souls are infinitesimal beings entirely dependent upon Him and realizing His Omnipotence should be subservient to Him.
Purport of Aphorism 29
Even the great son of Brahma, Kaashyapa rishi views that the jiva or soul is completely dependent on God. Therefore, when he realizes his own limitations and realizes that his power cannot be compared to the infinite potency of Bhagawan, the jive naturally takes up Bhakti. He will devote himself to Bhagawan and will be able to experience Supreme Bliss.
Shandilya Bhakti Sutra Aphorism – 30
आतमै कपारं बादरायणः
The very essential nature of the soul defines Bhakti-says Sri Veda Vyas
Purport of Aphorism 30
Bhakti has got nothing to do with mental or physical exercise. Bhakti is the nature of the soul. When the soul is free from Mayic influences or Material bondages, he naturally gets attuned to his innate nature, Bhakti. This is the statement of Sage Veda Vyas.
Shandilya Bhakti Sutra Aphorism – 31
उभयपारां शाण्डिल्यः शब्दोंपपतिभ्यम
Shadilya says that Vedas as well as the precepts of the exalted selves establish that Bhakti is the eternal, unbreakable relationship of Jiva-soul with Bhagavan, where the jiva accepts the position of a servitor while Bhagavan is the Master who is served by the Jiva.
Purport of Aphorism 31
As per Shadilya Rishi, Bhakti is indeed the constitutional faculty of the Jiva or cognitive soul. Bhakti is uninterrupted Love for Godhead. But it is important to understand that Bhakti has its roots in the Vedas. Therefore, Bhakti experienced by the jiva must be according to the Vedas and must not lack spiritual wisdom. Jivas can verify their emotions for the Lord (Bhakti) by relating to the emotions experienced by exalted devotees of Bhagavan whose emotions are a straight translation of the Bhakti propagated by the Vedas. Exalted devotees of the Lord experience the teachings of the Vedas in their life and therefore, jivas must consider their experience as a direct application of the Vedas. Their Bhakti is nothing but Vedas into action and therefore it holds authority.
Decoding the Meaning of Bhakti
For illustration we find in the Gita: “Jivas are fragments of Myself (Bhagawan), being not Svaamsha (Me, myself or Bhagawan), but Vibhinaamsha (a part and parcel of Bhagawan). Thus, souls are stationed at the demarcating line in between the Chid-Jagad (spiritual world) and Mayic jagad (illusory world).
This means that Jivas are a part of Bhagwan.
Bhakti in this context is the Jiva, as it is his essential, true nature (seen in Aphorism 30), while Bhagawan is the Vedas. So as per the Gita, Bhakti (Jiva) must be a part a parcel of Vedas (Bhagawan). In other words, Bhakti must be considered genuine if and only it is line with the Vedas. But if a Jiva experiences moods which are not prescribed in the Vedas, then it is certain that the moods are not Bhakti but Maya.
Therefore, Bhagawan says that Jiva stands at the demarcating line in between the Spiritual and Material world. If he experiences Bhakti, he is moving towards the spiritual world and if opposing feelings arise, then the Jiva is moving towards Maya or illusion.
But, how can we know test the authenticity of our feelings?
Understanding Bhakti in-terms of Ashta-Sattvika Bhava and Sahajiyaism
We can understand this clearly by taking Ashta-Satvika Bhava as an example. Great devotees of the Lord, who are sincere and follow the Vedic injunctions experience the Ashta-Sattvika Bhava. Sriman Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is a personification of true Bhakti. He displayed the Ashta-Satvika Bhava. It is a gift which not many people may experience. It is a very elevated state of Being.
On the other hand, in Sahajiyaism, many people tend to imitate the Ashta-Satvika Bhavas which is a distortion and more to do with psychology rather than anything spiritual. Sahajiyas are people who display moods and emotions which completely resemble to that of Ashta-Sattvika Bhava. But, in reality it is not even close to it in any manner. This is because, Sahajiyas are highly materialistic. They pose as devotees but they are highly attached to profits, fame etc. Their feelings are outcome of their relentless practice to generate the symptoms of Ashta-Sattvika Bhava like crying incessantly while hearing the glories of Bhagawan, dancing and jumping in ecstasy, fainting etc. They psyche themselves through artificial means by constantly practicing to act. Hence, it is not a natural response to Hari Katha. Their Bhavas are intentioned to manifest in front of public and devotee circles, while a true devotee tries to conceal his bhakti so that people do not hinge onto him. A pure devotee detests his glorification from the mouths of other people. They are not attention seekers. But, Sahajiyas enjoy to hear well about themselves from other innocent devotees. Therefore, one must get it clear that Bhakti is not a mental hype or a physical expression of Bhavas (Purport of Aphorism of 30), but instead it is a very personal mood exchange between the Lord and his devotee. It is not to be publicly announced or to be spoken about. But, this is not the policy of Sahajiyas.
So, according to the statement of the Gita, discussed above, people move towards Maya if they try to act or convince others that they are elevated devotees, while they move towards God if they are extremely protective about their Bhakti.
Signs of True Bhakti
True Bhakti arises, if a devotee performs authentic spiritual practices with a pure heart. Having a pure heart is essential. The heart should be devoid of ulterior motives and material desires. If not, a devotee must clean his heart first, by praying to Bhagavan. Until then, true Bhakti cannot arise and AshtaSattvika Bhava is far beyond reach. Not many people experience this state, however. The mind should be crystal pure, devoid of lust, anger, envy, greed, pride and attachment (six vices). Only then can genuine, selfless feelings, exclusively for the Lord arise in one’s heart. Bhakti is the ultimate goal of Life and therefore, Sadhana should be done with the intention to please God and not people. This is the mood of a pure devotee. This is the mood of a person who experiences Ashta-Sattvika Bhava, unlike Sahajiyaism, where one is in the constant spree of seeking attention and hearing praise from others.