It is a recognized fact that the way to salvation is three-fold; jiṋána, karma and bhakti. All three of these roles are recognized routes, and I have nothing to say against any of them. But you know, those who are experienced in this life of spirituality say, after realization, that the path of bhakti is the best. Even the intellectual giant Shaḿkarácárya had to admit that “mokśa kárańasamagryaḿ bhaktireva gariyasii” – bhakti is the best way to mokśa or salvation, the approach of bhakti is the best.
Why is the approach of bhakti the best? The approach of jiṋána is through analysis and synthesis, passing along the systaltic route of movement, and there is pause and speed. During the phase of pause there is every chance of degeneration. And what happens in the approach of karma? Wherever one gets diverted from the goal of life, from the culminating point of one’s march, one becomes degenerated. Vanity may develop both in the case of jiṋána and in the case of karma. But the path of bhakti is harmless. During the approach through jiṋána, one is to keep the goal a bit away from oneself and try to analyse it. In the case of karma, it is the same, although the position may be a bit closer, maintaining a bit more proximity. But in the case of Bhakti, what happens? The aspirant comes in the closest proximity to his or her goal, to his or her Lord, to his or her Parama Puruśa.
To the jiṋánii, the goal is something impersonal; god is something impersonal, something theoretical. To the karmii, god is neither personal nor impersonal, but maintains a link between the two. So in the life of a karmii the frustration is less than in that of a jiṋánii. But in the life of a bhakta, god is a personal one, his or her own Father, the Soul of one’s own soul. So one is linked with one’s own goal and this link with one’s personal god is maintained forever and never gets distorted. That is why everybody will have to admit the fact that “Mokśa kárańasamagryaḿ bhaktireva gariyasii.” Bhakti is the best approach, the devotional approach is the best approach. It requires no intellectual strength and no karmika stamina.
Human life, you know, is a measured one. Human beings come here for a very short span. If during this short span one tries to go through all the scriptures it will take more than one thousand years? And one is only here for approximately one hundred years. So, going along the path of jiṋána is a mere waste of existence. And karma is infinite and the human structure is a finite one, with limited stamina and limited capacity. So the path of bhakti is not only harmless, but the wisest one and is the approach of the most cunning people. So my advice to you all is to move along the path of bhakti. It is the best route.
In a short discourse in Bombay recently, I said in response to a question that actually so-called jiṋániis misuse their existence, they misuse their valuable time; and karmiis also misuse those things if they keep themselves detached from the goal.
So far as intelligence is concerned, the so-called intellectuals have “C” grade intellects, the so-called karmiis have “B” grade intellects and the bhaktas who are the most intelligent people have “A” grade intellects. So I hope you boys and girls try to be of “A” grade intelligence and move along the harmless path of Bhakti.
In a previous discourse I said that Parama Tattva is just like a big mango grove. Now three people, three aspirants, a jiṋánii, a karmii and a bhakta, go to that mango grove. Now what will the jiṋánii do? He or she will count how many leaves there are in those mango tress. While he or she is counting the leaves, the karmiis will climb those trees and come in contact with the leaves, flowers and mangoes. And what will the bhaktas do? The bhaktas will enjoy the taste of those mangoes. And in the evening what will happen? The bhaktas will finish eating all the mangoes, and the jiṋániis and karmiis will quarrel among themselves.
There are so many scriptures, Vedas and Puráńas, there are so many books, recognized and not recognized, and the jiṋániis will quarrel among themselves regarding the grammar and hasanta and visarga of the slokas. And what will the karmiis do? They won’t quarrel but they will work just like the bullocks of an oil-pressing machine. Have you seen bullocks working in the oil-pressing machine? They move more than one hundred miles a day, but there is no progress. All their movements are restricted to that room. Karmiis are like that.
But what will bhaktas do? Those scriptures are like the ocean. And what will the bhaktas do? They will churn the ocean. After churning what will they get? Butter and buttermilk. And then bhaktas will eat up the butter, and in the evening the jiṋániis and karmiis will quarrel among themselves regarding the ownership of the buttermilk. So be intelligent. My advice to you is to be intelligent and don’t try to be a “C” grade intellectual.
2 December 1978, Madras