Shandilya Bhakti Sutra Aphorism – 11
Bhakti is the substratum.
Purport of Aphorism 11
The means and end is Bhakti alone
There is a story in the Upanishad that relays the importance of life-breath. Once it so happened that each of the senses, one after another desired to take leave for some time. They were also allowed that privilege. But when they all returned after their coordinated leave period, they came together to work with co-operation. This time, it was the chance for the life-breath to take leave. When it left, all the senses were rendered inactive and motionless. So too, without Bhakti, all endeavors towards spiritual progress is a waste, is of no direct consequence. Sriman Chaitanya Mahaprabhu boldly proclaims that Bhakti is the very substratum of all Human pursuit. When Bhakti is achieved, there remains nothing else to be achieved.
Yearning for the Lord, is the main ingredient of Bhakti
What is the point in discussing the various ingredients of food stuff, without actually tasting it? Does it help, talking about nourishment, without even trying to eat food? What is the point of speculating about Bhakti, without first developing deep interest about the Personality of Godhead and without yearning deeply for Him? So Bhakti is the soul behind God-realization. All other forms of God-realization is merely a play with the shadows of the Lord.
Shandilya Bhakti Sutra Aphorism – 12
दर्शनफलमिति चेन्न तेन व्यवधानात्
Some opine that seeing God alone is Supreme attainment or the highest pursuit. No, because there can be an impediment here.
Purport of Aphorism 12
The Atma rati (आत्मरति)
The Chandogya Upanishad says स स्वरात भवति which means mere vision of Truth is not an alternative to the becoming. When one is able to visualize God and after such visualization one gets atma-rati (आत्मरति satisfaction and contentment of the heart), or delights in God through transcendental love, only such a devotee has reached the objective of Bhakti, not otherwise.
Merely Philosophizing about God cannot do the trick
Philosophers who normally describe God or philosophize about God, many times do not realize in their heart that the Lord is immutable. In their heart there is no determined faith that the Lord is the only protector, other than Him there is no resort, there is none other worthy of praise. Their philosophies revolve around God, but their heart has not been transformed so as to be established in God. In other words, there is no surrender to the Supreme Being. Just as the sun though shedding its light equally everywhere, passes only through perfectly transparent objects, bathing every particle of the object with its light, and not on opaque things, God is accessible only to perfect devotees because they constantly dwell in Him, through rendering loving devotional service unto Him. It is their Love that enshrines the Supreme Being in the core of their hearts.
Non devotees remain dry even after the vision of the Lord
The Bhagavatha says “The devotees are my Heart, I am the Heart of them. They do not want anything but only service to me and I know not of anything other than My devotees.” The Vedanta declares “Bhakta-Vatsalya (भक्त वात्सल्य Love for the devotees), is a special characteristic of the internal potency of the Lord” Bhagawan says “If at the very sight of Me, everybody could realize Me then Hiranyakashyipu would not have fought with my Narasimhadeva form whereas his son Maharaja Prahalad recognized Me as his worshippable Lord .” The wonders of my infancy and every glory of mine were not unknown to the Kauravas, yet when I Myself went as the peace ambassador on behalf of the Pandavas, they refused to accept Me and tried to capture Me. Why did Kamsa not take refuge under Me? Even the Yajnika Brahmins of Mathura well-versed in Vedic lore could not serve Me. Then, later, how they lamented; Fie upon our three-fold birth and so-called Vedic learning. Fie upon our sacred vows, Fie upon our learning and general knowledge, fie upon our proficiency in rituals, that we turned away our faces from the originator of the Vedas, Sri Krishna, fools that we are. Hence the Lord says that only through single-minded devotion and service to Me alone, I can be truly perceived.
Shandilya Bhakti Sutra Aphorism – 13
Yes, it is also by the very sight of God, one attains the highest purity of life.
Purport of Aphorism 13
Power of Associating with Devotees
In the earlier aphorism, we saw that mere Vision of the Truth, cannot bring fulfillment. In the material world one sees that by the very sight of a young man, a virgin suddenly entreats passion of love for him. It is important to understand here that when love is already impregnated in one’s heart, by the very sight of the object of love, one attains the desire of fulfillment. For one, who has not reached adolescence, how at the sight of an object of love can one entreat passion of love in the heart? Therefore by the dint of association with an exalted devotee, who is already impregnated with Atma rati, Love of God, one entreats love in the unstinted heart, at the very sight of his or her Object of Transcendental Love.
Kubja’s meeting with the Object of Transcendence
The story of Kubja is apt in this regard. Sri Krishna, entered the city of Mathura with his elder brother Balarama. One the way He met Kubja, when the Lord asked her to offer Him unguents, meant for Kamsa, although hunch-backed, and in the prime of her youth, Kubja was captivated by the bewitching Beauty, Adolescence Charm, loving disposition, smiling countenance, witty talks and penetrating glances of Sri Krishna, the Supreme Being. She offered Him the best kinds of perfumes and served Him. In return, Sri Krishna by touching her transformed her into a perfect damsel, with all the physical beauty of the celestial women. Sri Krishna satisfied her lust too, which cannot be compared to material lust. Even lust when applied to the Supreme Person is transformed into a spiritual mellow. Such is the beauty of directing the most fundamental instincts towards the Lord. Kubja Herself was imbued and impregnated with attraction for the Lord and hence His vision triggered the highest instincts and feelings towards the Lord and she was elevated to a very high spiritual platform.
A Heart suffused in Bhakti alone surrenders
But this type of deep dalliance with the Lord can never be enjoyed directly by one who is on the material platform, by beings who are already ensnarled within the noose knots of Maya. As a man who is suffering from a disease of bile cannot get the taste of sweetness of sugar-candy. The same analogy is applicable to devotion. A person devoid of Bhakti in the heart shall not find it comfortable to chant the Lord’s names. He shall find it bitter. Therefore only a heart that is suffused with Bhakti, attained either in the previous births through Grace or attained by continuously associating with elevated devotees of heart, it is possible to appreciate the Lord and give oneself to the Lord. A person who has consciously understood the path of Bhakti and desires Bhakti with all his heart, even in the absence of Bhakti in the initial stages can attract tremendous Grace, by willing alone. This is normally referred as Ahaituki Kripa (अहैतुकी कृपा Causeless Grace).