Chapter 12 – Bhakthi Yoga

Arjuna was a blessed soul – he got the unique opportunity to hear all about the divine almighty, to see him in all his glories, to experience that almighty in every perceivable form. All this, from the Guru of all Gurus – Lord Krishna himself! But he knows well, he needs to put into practice all that he’s been thought. In the previous five chapters, the Lord has elaborately described the nature, manifestations and glories of the almighty – both in manifest (perceivable) and unmanifest (unperceivable) forms. At this point, Arjuna wants to know who is better –
One who is engaged in devoted service of the lord in perceivable form (like Lord Krishna, Lord Rama, Lord Nrsimha etc), or
One who is engaged in path of knowledge about unmanifested form?

The Lord explains – what matters is committing all your thoughts on me all the time, with complete conviction.
Path of knowledge is filled with hurdles and very difficult to achieve perfection. It is not easy to constantly engage the mind on a concept that’s expected to be unthinkable, undefinable. To experience such an all pervasive, imperishable, supreme form, one needs great control on sense organs, an ever equipoise mind. In fact he says it’s difficult for any ‘embodied soul’, as body is primarily a source of distraction – whose experiences are by default projected towards external world. Thus to re-engineer such a body-mind connection, to look inwards is a huge task in itself!

The same end result can also be achieved by dedicating all your actions to me. This is not ‘name-sake’ dedication, like how our politicians do. It is to be done with a positive conviction that our existence here itself is a blessing of the Lord, all we’ve achieved so far is primarily due to his blessing, and thus, all we do can only be for his sake. A declaration of UNCONDITIONAL love towards him!
The lord clearly states that such people are definitely liberated from the cycle of life and death, much faster. So engage your mind entirely on the Lord, engage your intellect in his service – this will certainly lead you to him. The lord now gives alternatives, about how to cultivate such devotion towards him.

The approaches to devotion

Constantly engage your mind on the lord alone.
If you’re unable to do this, engage in practicing various principles explained earlier in Dhyana Yoga related to meditation.
If you’re unable to practice that, then dedicate all your actions to me. That is, give up the ‘doership’ – the sense of ego taking pride for your actions.
If you’re unable to disengage your sense of ‘doership’, then give up the result of your actions. Dedicate that results to me.

What exactly is achieved by such approaches – thinking of him all the time, dedicating all actions to him, or results to him? The lord needs neither your actions, or the results of it – these approaches are aimed at transforming our own lives.

Constantly engaging your mind on Lord, helps in achieving unparalleled focus and objectivity in our thoughts. This helps develop critical thinking, leading us in the path of knowledge.
Dedicating all our actions to the Lord, helps in cultivating gratitude and humility. It also helps us in being unaffected by the result – good or bad. Thus, helping achieve an equipoise attitude, all the time via path of actions.
Giving up result of our actions, helps in attuning our mind from cultivating further desires and thus distractions. You’re no longer anxious about the results of your action, neither wanting more or less of such results – leading us in path of BHAKTHI.

Thus, all of these approaches, when practiced on a regular basis, eventually leads to liberation from cycle of desires, thus, from cycle of birth and death!

The Lord now explains how Bhakthi is superior to all these approaches. He states:
Knowledge is superior to actions. Result of blindly performing action is much lesser than, performing the same action while being well versed with the knowledge about it.
Dhyāna is superior to Knowledge. Constantly engaging mind in contemplation of any subject, leads to improved knowledge.
Renouncing the results of actions, is superior to even Dhyāna. We tend to give up something, for those that we love the most. Only when we love the lord unconditionally, can we renounce the results of our actions. Thus, simply loving him unconditionally, rids us from all the greed, leading to complete conviction and knowledge about that supreme being.

What does renouncing the results mean? How to practice?

When we go visit a temple, we offer fruits, flowers, sweets etc. Ideally these should be fruits/flowers that are grown by us in our garden, flowers made to garlands by our hands, sweets cooked by ourselves. Now, by offering it to the Lord, we are essentially renouncing the result of our actions (of growing the fruits/flowers, making them into garlands, and so on). When we perform all these ourselves, it gives us an experience of what it means to give up what you grew or cooked so lovingly. It helps in reducing our attachment to the results.
Most of us in current generation are used by buying all these from the shop next to the temple – 2 coconuts, 5 bananas and one ‘arm-length’ garland! That’s still fine – the money we use to buy these, comes from the work we do. Thus, it is still representation of renouncing the result of our actions, provided we do it mindfully, fully aware of the significance of such an action! And what happens to those fruits you offered – it is used to distribute to other devotees. Thus, result of your actions, is being used for the larger good of the community.
This is a very small example – try scaling up what you offer, proportionately to what you earn (results of your action). By doing so, we learn how to cut our greed, learn how to give back to society/nature for all we took from her. A mother easily gives up her food, for the sake of her child – that’s due to her unconditional love. Similarly, when we love the Lord unconditionally, the ‘act’ of renouncing is easier. How then to cultivate such unconditional love? When we know our employer pays our monthly earnings, we do all the work assigned to us faithfully. Similarly, when we understand it’s the grace of supreme being that we’re able to do, all we do – unconditional love is simply a byproduct.

What are the qualities of such a bhaktha/devotee?

Not an iota of hatred towards any being around, always compassionate, without pride or ego, ever forgiveful, accepting both happiness and sorrow in similar ways. Always content and engaged in devotional service with unwavering commitment to the lord. He’s never affected by happenings around him, nor does he affect an imbalance to those around him, always free of fear or excitement. He never craves for anything, nor complains, renounces both good and bad, treats friends and foes unbiased, is undisturbed by honor/dishonor, heat/cold, praise/insult. He’s ever undeterred by anything around him – completely dedicated only to the service of lord.
Before you think all this is impossible to practice – we already show these qualities for those that we love the most. When we love what we do – we don’t care about anything else around us. Even if we fail, we simply get up and try again. Even if there are a hundred people discouraging, or honouring, we continue to do the work, with same love. When the Lord himself is the object of such love, we’re certain to experience the everlasting bliss!

Bhakthi, is possibly the strongest emotion that we human beings have inherently, and probably also the easiest to practice! Keep chanting his name, with all sincerity, all the time – he will be yours forever!

DISCLAIMER: This our sincere attempt to summarise the Gitōpadesha, via a series of short blogs. This is NOT the whole translation, or commentary of the divine book. We seek forgiveness of reader and the lord, for omissions which is inevitable to keep the blog short. The write-ups include both, writer’s personal opinion and summarised version of many shlokas from the Bhagavad Gita. Intent of blog was never to be a commentary of Bhagavad Gita, but simply inspire the reader to read Bhagavad Gita in it’s entirety. The writer is neither a scholar, nor a bummer, somewhere in between, with a firm belief that the lord gets him to do all the things he does. Being human, he still keeps erring. Forgive him for all such mistakes.

Sarvam Krishnarpanamasthu!