3 roles of intelligence in bhakti
[Bhagavad-gita class to Bhakti Shastri students at Wellington, New Zealand]
Transcribed by : Muralidhar Prabhu
3 Roles of Intelligence in Bhakti
Conception of how intelligence to be used in the spiritual path; three verses from BG – BG2.49, BG10.10 & 18.57, BG18.66
a) We take shelter of the intelligence to differentiate between matter and spirit;
b) Then, we use the intelligence to take shelter of Krishna
c) And then, we take shelter of Krishna putting aside our intelligence; transcending the intelligence to take shelter of Krishna
1.0) Understanding the terms & their relationship- knowledge and intelligence – jnana and buddhi:
Intelligence enables us to perceive reality better than what our senses shows us; all of us see the world with our senses but the extension of what we see is made possible thru intelligence; while driving a car we see a straight road and then we see on the left side a road sign indicating there is a bump; when we see that sign and know what that sign means then that knowledge extends our vision of the road even though we have not seen the bump; knowledge shows us further than what our eyes can see; this applies in various walks of life; when a child is sick she will stop the child from playing because she is able to see further of the consequence of playing; similarly, knowledge can extend our vision by seeing the correlation of the action with its consequence/reaction; in this way we become more informed in our understanding; with spiritual knowledge we gain the understanding that our life is not restricted only to this body; our vision extends our existence to more than one life time; our vision extends further in terms of length when we understand that we are more than our body; with material vision we see death as a full stop and with spiritual knowledge we see death as a comma; something more is going to come; there is an extension (breadth) of our existence too with spiritual knowledge – we are just not our body but there is a body, mind and soul. Spiritual knowledge makes us far sighted and deep sighted; far sighted means expertise who have vision and can see further; deep sighted however means seeing beyond the surface to a deeper level of reality; if somebody is acting irritably we may conclude that the person is an irritable person; however one is deep sighted he may think that something bad has happened in this person’s life and hence is irritable; spiritual knowledge gives us both- far and deep sighted. Knowledge and Intelligence are related concepts; there is a slight difference in terms of focus; in BG18.20 to 18.22 Krishna talks about knowledge in the three modes; and in BG18.30 to 18.32 Krishna talks about intelligence in the three modes; broadly speaking the differentiation is, in knowledge we take in information from the world and intelligence is how we act in this world; jnana and buddhi are the two terms; there is similarity and difference; both reflect that there is something more than what we see with our senses; a knowledgeable person knows a lot of information and we will say he is knowledgeable; but when we say a person is intelligence it includes knowledge as well as the capability to know what to do in a particular situation; so knowledge is more in terms of perception and intelligence is more in terms of action. Krishna in the 18th chapter analyses various components of action in terms of the three modes and there first he begins with knowledge (BG18.20 to 22) and then he talks about action in three modes, then about the doer in the three modes and then buddhi, determination and happiness in the three modes; here we are focusing on one of the components of action which is buddhi; in analytical sense jnana and buddhi can be differentiated but in a practical sense we may use them interchangeably.
2.0 Role of Buddhi at the start of spiritual life – Delineating the purpose of Actions:
BG2.49: certain actions will attract blessings and certain actions do not attract blessings; they will attract inauspicious; keep such actions at a distance; how will you do this? by the practice of buddhi yoga; and take shelter of your intelligence; let intelligence be your refuge; those who are miserly work for the fruits of their actions; Krishna is advising Arjuna in this section to rise from Karma Kanda to Karma Yoga; religious materialism – doing good at a material level to get material prosperity; religion is used a means for material gain; this is talked about in BG 2.31 to 2.37 where one’s actions can take one to heaven; material gain is the purpose whether in this life or the next when one practises religious materialism; then there is religious practices that is done not for material gain but for spiritual elevation. For that we have to be detached from the fruits of one’s work; BG2.47- do not let the fruit of your action be the purpose of your action; obviously when we do any action there is a purpose for that action; this means that do not be attached to the result; the vision for our action should be just not the material result of the work but a bigger vision; when there is bigger vision we see that there is a bigger purpose to life; example students studying only for passing the exam but they will not have learnt the subject; learning the subject is a much more longer goal than just passing the exam; if one focuses on learning the subject then automatically one passes the exam too; short term goal is the material goals and long term goal is spiritual goal; if we have to evolve by making our consciousness elevated and becoming aware of our spiritual side then our focus should be on that; a miserly person is attached to the results of the work; they do not have a bigger picture; a misery person has a lot of wealth and they can think of only the joy of possessing the wealth and they cannot think of the joy of utilising the wealth; they are not ready to spend any money at all; krpana has a short term vision, a materialistic vision; Krishna is telling Arjuna that your fighting in the Kurushektra war is simply for wining or loosing but there is a bigger picture; Krishna is expanding Arjuna’s vision; just as there is a difference between body and soul there is a difference between material result and spiritual result; hence do not be attached to the material result; there are two kinds of result in all actions – there is the material result and spiritual result; internal success and external success; the result should be internal transformation; when Krishna spoke the BG Arjuna’s heart changed that is one result; but when Sanjaya spoke the same message to Dhritrastra the heart did not change; BG18.76 Sanjay says he is thrilled when he spoke to Dhritrastra the BG; it is just not a conversation; thru the conversation comes the revelation; even though external result was not there (Dhritrastra did not change) there was internal success because Sanjaya’s heart was filled with joy; SP in CC writes that one should write for one’s own purification; if others are benefited that is good but that is not the primary purpose; work that is motivated solely by material profit and loss calculation keep it far away; that is not auspicious because the spiritual aspect is left out; one who has no money is poor but one who has only money is poorer still; one who is obsessed with money will be all alone and that loneliness is a great poverty; in this verse BG 2.49 Krishna is telling Arjuna to take shelter of his intelligence ; this means to see with one’s intelligence; sometimes we have to use special protection to see and Krishna is saying here to see with one’s intelligence; if one sees only with a material vision many things in spiritual life will not make sense; hence one has to see with intelligence the purpose of an action; this is the first level at which Krishna speaks to Arjuna – differentiate between body and soul and differentiate between internal success and external success.
3.0 Strengthening the Buddhi thru Reciprocation:
Krishna uses the word buddhi yoga thrice in the BG; the second usage is in BG10.10; for those people who have understood the position of Krishna and absorbed in Krishna, they are serving me with affection and joyfully; sometime we do something because there is no option; if we are not working with affection and joyfully then it is a failure; the purpose of bhakti is not to get the work done; the purpose of bhakti is to connect with Krishna; if we are resentful and not joyful the service will get done but the connection will not have been established; in that sense the service will not be fruitful; even if sometime we do not feel like doing some seva we should try to remember when it was livening and by this way we get some desire; then such service will open our heart to Krishna and Krishna will give some result over there; Krishna says that He will give the buddhi by which one can go to Him; Krishna can gives us illumination when our heart is filled with affection; to the extent our bhakti is priti purvakam Krishna will give us the intelligence; if the heart is resentful then there is no connection and there will be no transfer of intelligence/wisdom; here buddhi is at a different level; the level here is the buddhi that will enable us to come to Him; here it is the intelligence which will help us to connect and to take decisions that will take us to Him; buddhi yoga is not another kind of yoga; it can be used for Karma Yoga or Jnana Yoga too as SP says in the purport; Krishna is not talking about a path but a disposition; buddhi yoga means the connection that is established with intelligence; this connection can be even used in Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga and even in Bhakti Yoga; stretchable term; in BG 2.49 the intelligence is used for the purpose of purification- detachment from material desires and one becomes more and more receptive to spiritual reality; here in BG10.10 buddhi yoga is used in a deeper context; buddhi yoga is that which enables you to come to Me; a question may arise, if a person is already engaged in service always then are they not already with Krishna; then what is the meaning of saying Krishna will give buddhi by which they can come to Him; it means bhakti leads to greater bhakti; unlike impersonalist who uses bhakti to get mukti, for a devotee bhakti leads to greater bhakti; the emphasis of Krishna in this verse is that a bhakta does not have to take any other process to get jnana; just by bhakti jnana will come. BG 10.11 Krishna says that by the process of bhakti jnana will come; in SB 1.2.7 the same message is that jnana and vairagya are by products of bhakti; the metaphor is the bhakti is the godess and Krishna is the god; when the goddess and Krishna unite in our heart then the offspring will be jnana and vairagya; here buddhi yoga is that intelligence that comes from Krishna and takes us to Krishna; at one level all intelligence comes from Krishna; even an atheist his intelligence comes from Krishna but all intelligence does not take us to God; but thru the practice of bhakti then Krishna gives the intelligence by which one can go back to Him; decision making has two elements to it – there is the human element and there is the divine element; the human element is our analysis, introspection, etc. but there is also the divine element; if we over emphasise the human aspect or under emphasise the human aspect it is wrong; we can analyse for days and days but Krishna can gives us insights that we cannot even imagine; there is a time for introspection and there is a time when we have to focus on Krishna and pray that the partnership between our introspection and Krishna connection will give us an insight which will ensure that the burden of decision making does not burden our devotion; rather our devotion will unburden our decision making.
4.0 Buddhi to transcend the ego and realise the real doer- increasing the dependence(surrender):
In BG18.57 – in all your actions work with your consciousness- renounce the work to me -and make me your ultimate goal; take shelter of buddhi yoga and in this way be always conscious of me; here Krishna is saying buddhi yoga as the means for becoming conscious of Krishna; earlier intelligence was seen as coming from Krishna but here Krishna is saying buddhi yoga as the one that will take us to Krishna; now, does intelligence come from Krishna or intelligence will take us to Krishna? It is both; we have our capacity to use our god given intelligence; we are meant to use our intelligence in the service of Krishna; with our intelligence we understand in this situation how I can become conscious of Krishna; if we come for a program and do not use our consciousness to connect with Krishna then it is a misdirection of consciousness; people who stay right next to a railway station often miss the train, similarly we will come to the temple and miss the opportunity of connecting our consciousness with Krishna; be in Krishna consciousness and not around Krishna consciousness; use our intelligence to focus on Krishna; how do these two aspects of intelligence interact with each other; sometime we may be confused and no answer seems to be coming- then what do we do? one understanding of intelligence is to know what to do when we do not know what to do; this means that let me take shelter of Krishna and expose myself more and more to Krishna; this verse is talking about the first two elements of saranagati – do what is favourable to become conscious of me and avoid those things that do not make one conscious of Krishna; in this way we can be conscious of Krishna always; in one sense 10.10 and 18.57 are talking at the same level; that it is the intelligence that will take one to Krishna;
5.0 When Buddhi Meets Devotion – the carrier of the baton
but beyond that there is BG18.66 where Krishna says give up everything and just completely surrender to Me; here Krishna is saying I have given you all the analysis but just surrender to Me; there are certain situations is bhakti when we have to take a leap of faith; intelligence takes us towards Krishna but to go to Krishna one has to go beyond the intelligence; there is a path that takes us in the direction of the house and after that there is a pool of water where we have to jump across; intelligence alone will not take us to Krishna; a leap of faith is what will ultimately take us to Krishna; this does not makes sense but Krishna must be having a plan; I have faith in Krishna; this is what Krishna wants me to do and I will do it; we use intelligence to progress in our spiritual journey but we do not let our spiritual path be limited by intelligence; sometimes in the path of bhakti things will not make sense at that time press on; how can we press on at that time; there is unintelligence things, intelligence things and then there are trans-intelligence things; trans-intelligence means that which transcends the intelligence; if intelligence alone can take us to god then intelligence will be superior to God; but God is supreme being; so understanding Him requires us to surrender our intelligence too; that means that we go as much as we can with intelligence but where it cannot go, I go with my devotion; I go with my faith; significance of BG 6.47; Uddhava Gita explains that even devotee who follow the path of jnana, HH Viswanath Chakravorthy says that we use jnana to renounce the world and then we renounce jnana to get Krishna; but in the process of bhakti we use the world and the jnana to attain Krishna; this is the inclusive of bhakti; Srila Prabhupada said in Mayapur where nothing was there, that it will become the international headquarters; from a material perspective it might seem unbelievable but from a spiritual perspective it was waiting for manifestation; SP had a transcendental vision; sometimes for serving Krishna we have to put aside our intelligence; SP to go to USA at the age of 70 required something more than intelligence; to satisfy the instruction of his spiritual master he went to USA; he also had used his intelligence in terms of getting books published and build credibility as far as he could and beyond that he depended on Krishna – transcended the intelligence; this is the mood in which Krishna asks Arjuna to surrender; this is the mood in which we ultimately surrender to Krishna; the experience of Krishna is deeper than what any analysis can provide; thus we focus on connecting with Krishna with our intelligence or beyond our intelligence; and in that way as our connection with Krishna is established that connection will bring us illumination and satisfaction, similar to the satisfaction which Sanjaya got after hearing the BG (BG 18.75 &76)
The three levels of intelligence in the practice of bhakti
BG2.49 – the level of differentiating between matter and spirit; differentiating between short term and long term; far and deep understanding
With this understanding comes the understanding of purpose of any action; internal success and external success; material result and spiritual result
BG10.10 – the intelligence that comes from God and takes us to God;
Bhakti done with the intention of connecting to Krishna; Bhakti is self-sufficient – will give jnana and vairagya;
BG18.57 intelligence that helps us to become conscious of Krishna; be in Krishna Conscious and not around Krishna conscious thru intelligence
BG18.66 the trans-intelligence – the devotion that transcends the intelligence; where intelligence meets devotion; leap of faith; investment in faith; God is bigger than our intelligence;
We use buddhi to detach ourselves from the world and then we detach ourselves from buddhi to attach ourselves to Krishna
We too can become like Sanjaya filled with jubilation
End of Transcription.