This Truth, or Principle, is subsumable under five categories:
- Karma, Performance of Duty;
- Jnana, Knowledge;
- Bhakti, Love;
- Prapatti, Surrender; and
- Acharya Abhimana, Trust in the Mediator.
1. Karma, or Duties, are those activities that so discipline and mortify the body as to kill sin. Their performance is called Karma-yoga. It consists of sacrifice (yajna), charity (dana), austerities (tapas), meditation (dhyana), prayers (sandhya-vandana), the five great sacrifices (panca-mahayajna), fire-sacrifice (agnihotra), holy pilgrimage (tirtha-yatra), holy residence (punya kshetra-vasa), expiatory and purificatory rites (krcchra, and chandrayana), holy river-bathings (punya-nadi-snana), vows (vrata), the quarterly sessions (chaturmasya), living on fruits and roots (phala-mula-‘sana), study of holy works (sastrabhyasa), holy feeding (samaradhana), silent holy repetitions (japa), oblations to ancestors (tarpana), etc. These constant occupations for the organs of sense and the organs of action prevent the senses from contacts worldly, and consciousness is thus weaned from their contemplation. The consciousness streaming out through the senses to worldly objects, when prevented from sensuous experiences, stands in need of engagements other wise, and these are afforded in the soul itself. In other words, consciousness is turned away from the Objective, and turned inwards to dwell on the Subjective – a process entitled inhibition or introspection. This process is divided into the eightfold stages of yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dhyana, dhrana and samadhi. This eightfold process is specifically called ‘yoga’. This yoga part of karma-yoga may be conceived as the transition between karma-yoga proper and jnana-yoga proper. This karma-yoga is auxiliary to jnana-yoga, and is the chief means of acquiring material prosperity (aisvarya), i.e. artha and kama.
2. Jnana, or Knowledge, means the Highest Knowledge, or Divine Knowledge. Jnana-yoga is its acquisition. The Karma-yoga aforesaid is productive of knowledge. The object, or objective, of this knowledge (in other words, consciousness functioning in this direction) is Divinity, conceivable in various localized situations, much as the orb of the Sun, the Heart-Lotus, and so forth, and concretizable into Figures of Beauty as that which has an Image in space limits, or the Idea, idolized, bearing the Discus and the Conch, attired in radiant robes, bedight with Crowns and Corselets, Armlets and Anklets, mated with Sri, and so forth. God is thus conceived as confined in contours of bewitching beauty. This is the special manner in which it is yet allowed man to realize the Divine Spirit in actual presence and for profit, and this serves the purposes of constraining attention, which is habitually dissipate, and of its being riveted on to the Holy Object of contemplation. Consciousness, so exercised, is itself moulded into that blessed shape, and, thus trained, is relieved of all distraction over various futile objects. This is Divine Meditation, which at the start is of brief duration, but which the postulant is to extend by practice into longer and longer periods, and in the end to render enduring.
This Jnana-yaga is auxiliary to Bhakti-yoga, and is the chief means of effecting soul-realization (Kaivalya Moksha).
3. Bhakti is Love. Bhakti-yoga is the practice of Loving Faith. Fixture of Consciousness (Jnana) on an idolized ideal Object of Beauty is described to be its persistence and insistence thereon, like the streaming filament of a fluid substance, uninterrupted in flow. So far, the experience obtained from such fixture is what pertains to the province of Jnana-yoga aforesaid. But when the experience partakes of the nature of love, or becomes a loving experience, it obtains the name of Bhakti. The practice of this loving experience of loving faith is Bhakti-yoga. In its onward progress it becomes more and more intense and rapturous. Instead of compelling, as it was, it has become inviting; instead of repelling, as it was, it has become bewitching. Effort is merged in craving, self-assertion giving place to self-abandon. The heart has become poured into the intellect, or, rather, the intellect has become fused with the heart. The purely mental has become united with the emotional.
Sin is deed wrongly done, and is what confines one in the prison-house of flesh, cutting off from it all the ways of emancipation. It is put into three clusters: samcita, prarabdha, and agami. All the yogas have the virtue of sin-killing. Whereas this virtue is partly effected by the Karma-yaga and the Jnana-yoga processes aforesaid, the residue of prarabdha which they leave untouched is also entirely eradicated (or effaced from the pages of the soul-life) by Bhakti-yoga. To the Bhakti-yogin a vivid knowledge of Means and Ends is vouchsafed. In other words, the true perception of what constitutes the means of salvation, and what constitutes the End or what Salvation really signifies, is imparted to him.
4. Prapatti is lovingly surrendering or sacrificing faith, or resigned trust in God. The practising of this is Prapatti-yoga. In other words, it is the means of unreservedly placing oneself in His hands, and ridding oneself of all notions of securing salvation by self-effort. It is the attitude of mind entirely resigned to His will. This is real renunciation (samnyasa). Bhakti-yoga, supported by Karma-yoga and Jnana-yoga, as described above, becomes a means that tries the utmost strength and capacity of mortals, nor is it compatible with the nature of those souls that have realized their essential nature – their relationship with God. This Path of prapatti is accessible to all, irrespective of caste, colour, or creed (varna and asrama), and soon bears fruit, while the other Paths are circumscribed by a variety of conditions. The mental act, “I trust Thee, Lord,” once dedicated, is done once for all, for, as soon as done, it is accepted by Him. Whatever series of acts the Suppliant (Prapanna) may do thenceforward are no more Means to secure an End, but acquire the character of being Ends in themselves; inasmuch as all these acts become but acts of service done to Him, and devoid therefore of any ultra-motive. Motivelessness of all act arises from its being done as Divine Service; and is hence bereft of all binding character, such as entails phenomenal existence again for the soul who does it. The soul, moreover, does the act on the clear understanding of its own intrinsic position or character, as liege of the Lord whom it has to serve. This is the true relation between soul and God, and from it there naturally follows the recognition of the True Means as no other than surrendering faith, or entire loving trust, or trustful faith, which is resignation. Self-surrender, or Resignation, in other words, is sacrificing oneself, or offering an oblation of oneself, at God’s feet. The truest freedom lies in self surrender. The “Self-assert” of Bhakti has given place to the “Self-negate” of Prapatti. The uplift to sublime independence is the fruit of complete subservience to the Supreme Law – God.
Prapatti is of two kinds : Drpta, or Patient; and Arta, or Impatient. [The Prapanna is what we shall call the Suppliant, or Postulant.] The Postulant, Patient (Drpta), is he who is not only weary of, but dreads, migratory, or material, or embodied life, and is averse from all delights, mundane and ultra mundane. To obtain relief from these and access to God, he seeks a competent teacher, and under his guidance adopts the Way (Prapatti) of Salvation. He adapts his life to the way of shunning evil, and of walking the paths prescribed by the laws of varna and asrama, and, to the best of his ability, remains devoted to the service of God and of the Godly – straight in thought, speech, and deed. He constantly reflects on God being his Lord, and on himself being His liegeman; He as the Ruler, he as the ruled; He as the Master, he as the chattel; He as the Spirit, he as the body; He as the Pervader, he as the pervaded; He as the Enjoyer, he as but the enjoyed; He as the All-knowing, he as the ill-knowing; He as the All-powerful, he as the powerless; He as the Full, he as the void; He as the All-sufficient, and he as the all-wanting. Thus reflecting, the Postulant dedicates all to God, laying on Him all his burden, and spends the lease of his life that may still be left to him in perfect resignation, not allowing its peace to be distraught by considerations of self-care and self-salvation.
The Postulant, Impatient (Arta), is he in whom – by the free grace of God – by study and service with a true Teacher, wisdom has dawned, making him loathe all such bodies, places, and leaders as wean him from God, and causing him to long for all such things as wed him to Him. He throws himself entirely on the mercy of God, saying, “Lord, Thou alone canst be my Deliverer from all ills, Thou alone, Lord, art my Way, and Thee alone, O High, I adore”. He grows impatient of salvation, beseeching and besieging God in all manner of ways to lift him once for all to His Holy Feet.
5. Acaryabhimana is either resort to the Mediator by the aspirant for salvation, or resort to the saved by the Mediator Himself from His own free choice. This fifth Means of Salvation possesses the virtue of being within the nearest reach of mankind, as contra distinguished from all the other Means aforesaid. Those no doubt prescribe God as the object for resort, but He is so beyond the reach of mankind’s senses, minds, and hearts, as to forbid His being used in the manner of other objects more accessible. This want is supplied by the Mediator, insomuch as he is tangibly present in the midst of mankind, as one of their own, and therefore so accessible and so within reach, that the work of salvation becomes for souls, so to say, a practical reality. This contrivance in the Scheme of Salvation has been devised by God Himself, in the manner of the mother feeling love for her child, and the Mediator, patent to all mankind, is the result. The Mediator sees his children as weak and helpless, incapable of shifting for themselves. He stretches his hand down to them, on the one side, to lift them up, and he stretches his hand up, on the other side, to present them to God as fit objects for His mercy and compassion. The function of the Mediator is thus twofold. He is the Mother who is ready to sacrifice her own comfort by voluntarily treating herself to medicine and regimen for the sake of saving the sick child, and he is the Servant who, by such act of self-sacrifice, performs a great deed that pleases his Master, God, who, of course, in the first instance delegated him, or deputed him, for this loving task. He submits to personal suffering in order to redeem the fallen. The Mediator, then, is the Ready Means, under the grace of which souls may take refuge and shape their conduct entirely at his sole bidding.
The resort to a Mediator is both an independent Means and an auxiliary Means to the other Means aforesaid, just as God Himself, the Eternal, is both directly the Goal, and indirectly the Goal as the Spirit indwelling in all the lesser Gods of the Pantheon.
Reproduced as-is from ‘Artha Panchaka’ by Alkondavilli Govindacharya.