07.19: Simple-heartedness is not simple-mindedness

by July 26, 2012

Some intellectually endowed people feel that the path of bhakti is too simplistic and so is meant for sentimental people who don’t have much intellectual assets.

However, the simplicity characteristic of bhakti is not simple-mindedness but simple-heartedness. Let’s get a sense of the difference between the two:

Simple-mindedness: In much contemporary intellectual discourse, the mind refers to the intellectual faculty, as when a thinker is honored as “one of the greatest minds of the century.” In this parlance, simple-mindedness refers to intellectual naiveté, the inability to reason critically and coherently. To charge the path of bhakti as being for the simple-minded would require a staggering amount of historical ignorance, akin to the amount of blindness needed to not sense the presence of the sun while standing under it an noon. The leading exponents of the bhakti tradition like Ramanuja, Vyasatirtha and Jiva Goswami rank among the best minds that the world has ever seen, as even a cursory perusal of their intellectual works will reveal.

Simple-heartedness: The simplicity characteristic of bhakti is simple-heartedness: the simple faith of the heart that love, the deepest longing of our heart, is not to be rejected, but redirected at life’s highest spiritual level; Krishna’s loving grace is the ultimate power in existence that we can invoke by our sincere calls of humble love; his grace is omnipotent enough to compensate for all our limitations and faults; his holy name is the best expressway to his grace; and life’s greatest success is  eternal, ever-expanding ecstasy in the supreme abode of divine love.

This simple-hearted faith is often the rich, refined culmination of the most sophisticated intellectual deliberation, as is indicated in the Bhagavad-gita (7.19): when intellectuals reach their zenith, they surrender to Krishna and embrace the path of bhakti.



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