We are preparing a new book entitled “This and That for Yogis” by Abbot George Burke. We will begin posting excerpts here from the book, beginning with this one on Bhakti, which we hope to publish before year is out. Here is what the author says about the book:
This is a compilation of random thoughts I put down quite some time ago that were completely without any order. Unlike Satsang With the Abbot, it is now somewhat arranged according to subjects, though the final section is not. I hope it will be useful to those who read it.
I certainly wish someone had told me these things when I first attempted to be a yogi. Things would have been much easier and I would have avoided wasting a great deal of time.
Abbot George Burke
(Swami Nirmalananda Giri)
This and That on Bhakti
Unfortunately bhakti is usually considered to be emotion directed to God, especially as love. But bhakti means dedication in the search for God. It is Ishwarapranidhana, the offering of the life to God, which Patanjali says is the way to superconsciousness (Yoga Sutras 2:45). Shankara simplified and clarified it greatly when he said that bhakti is seeking God and jnana is finding God.
In the sixth chapter of Raja Yoga, Vivekananda wrote:
“All over the world there have been dancing and jumping and howling sects, who spread like infection when they begin to sing and dance and preach; they also are a sort of hypnotists. They exercise a singular control for the time being over sensitive persons, alas! often, in the long run, to degenerate whole races. Ay, it is healthier for the individual or the race to remain wicked than be made apparently good by such morbid extraneous control.
One’s heart sinks to think of the amount of injury done to humanity by such irresponsible yet well-meaning religious fanatics. They little know that the minds which attain to sudden spiritual upheaval under their suggestions, with music and prayers, are simply making themselves passive, morbid, and powerless, and opening themselves to any other suggestion, be it ever so evil.
Little do these ignorant, deluded persons dream that whilst they are congratulating themselves upon their miraculous power to transform human hearts, which power they think was poured upon them by some Being above the clouds, they are sowing the seeds of future decay, of crime, of lunacy, and of death.
Therefore, beware of everything that takes away your freedom. Know that it is dangerous, and avoid it by all the means in your power.”
Vivekananda knew what he was talking about because Bengal, his native land, was gripped by the false bhakti of the “dancing and jumping and howling sects,” especially Gaudia Vaishnavism (the Hare Krishna movement in the West), and still is to a great extent.
His fellow countryman, Paramhansa Yogananda, said: [Read more…]