What Supports the Bhaktha and his Yoga?

The heart is another country. Especially so for the bhaktha, he who has set foot on the path of devotion.

Bhaktha and the Beloved

To the bhaktha, a lover of God, there is a sense of otherness, much like mortal love perhaps but here there is no hankering for a time-born being, no disturbance of the senses, no propensity to debase oneself by indulging in sensual gratification. Often the bhaktha faces downturns, old impulses return to claim their ancestral place, and they protest with vigor and vehemence. But to one whose inner being has woken up in however little a measure and tasted the unmixed delight of Divine intoxication, there can be no lasting fall..there is only a delay until the ultimate embrace with the Divine Beloved.

But until that final embrace occurs there are glimpses, whether frequent or rare, brief glimpses of the Divine. Like milestones strewn around on a highway, these markers arrive to provide solace to the soul on its long-winded journey. They arrive in a multitude of shapes, forms and ways. If there is any method at all, then it is one based on His infinite freedom and our ability to receive it.

A Curious Phenomena

All these little moments/events share a specific character in that they occur anywhere and everywhere. It seems as if they have no limitation of time or space or form. The Rishis and God Lovers of the Hindu tradition had observed the nature of this peculiar Power and Phenomena minutely.

The Rishi’s Habit

What the Rishi observed within or without, he named it. He knew that a Power or Phenomena when named, could be spoken about, could be meditated upon, could be invoked and even made manifest within an individual’s consciousness. This is what they did, the Heroes of the Hindu tradition. They watched and watched with eyes, ears and every sense available. When they reached the limit of the senses, they observed the instrument that observed, the mind. When the chaos of mind was stilled, they found even rarer phenomena. This climb, this reaching out to hidden territory, this journey and adventure within they named Yoga.

Alone and Not Alone

The Rishis found themselves, not unlike the scientist who peers into atoms and builds his models of String Theory or Quantum Physics and who is baffled by the inability of common untrained men to understand them, alone in their pursuit of the Unknown. Even in the crowd the God Lover, the Rishi, is alone. But even in this solitude amidst sense-driven men, the Rishi observed something that always was with him. That could wake up at the most common moments and let him know he was not alone, that the goal of his journeys was always nearby.

The Ever Present Guide

The Hindus had to name this phenomena. What was it that was everywhere? What stayed with them in waking and in dream? What climbed the soul’s stairs into rarer and rarer heights along with them? The name had to be personal, after all this was the Guide who ventured with them into territories no map could capture. And it had to describe the idea that the Phenomena was everywhere. To the Rishi, to name something was automatic..the Power they wanted to name always suggested what it aught to be called.

Sarvavyapi, they ended up calling this Phenomena. Sarva-vyapi, or Sarva-Vyaapi as its pronounced in Sanskrit. Sarva is ‘everything’. Vyaapi is ‘one who pervades’. Put together Sarvavyaapi is “One who pervades everything”.

The Sterile Heaven of Icarus

The nearest western equivalent would be Omnipresent. As with most things spiritual, the western heart had yet to soar into heights of bhakthi yoga. Icarus who tried to soar heavenward was made into a parable to not have men aspire too high. The Tower of Babel was struck because men aspired to heavens. The West was content to abandon ancient freedoms of the Greek spirit for something new. And the word Omnipresent, so remote and sterile.

Swaha

Sarvavyaapi, One who pervades everything. Sarvavyaapi pervades you and I, pervades all that is manifest whether perceived by us or not. May that Sarvavyaapi guide us, as He guided the Rishis of the Veda.

If Sri Krishna Were to Appear

This post will not resonate with those who have not felt Bhakthi, if so apologies and I request you to return later. 

I have wondered for almost two decades now, how would it feel to be in front of the Divine. To stand in front of Him, the goal of our toils and the heights of our aspiration. To see Him with bare eyes, not as intuition, not as an experience where the little self vanishes. But here and now, to see Him as one would a dear-most friend. Or as the realization of every tear shed over many lives, of every longing that wracks the heart, or the becoming of every song ever sung.

Of all the paths to the Divine, the one of Knowledge taken by the thinker, or the one of Works undertaken by the toiler or even the road taken by the royalty..the Raja Yoga they call it, the most sublime of all paths to the Divine conceived by the Hindu race, is the path of Devotion and such a mighty conception it is. To give the heart its complete realization, to consider every strain of love and longing that the human heart gives itself to and make it an instrument of Yoga. God as Father, as Ishwara. God as Mother, as Shakthi in Her many manifestations. God as Child, as Skanda or Muruga in the Tamizh Bhakthi path and so on..so many ways of adoring the Divine.

But right at the top of the devotional path is to see God as Beloved, as Sri Krishna, the one who captivates souls, the one who makes Meera sing songs of anguish, one who makes a Chaitanya roam with a kirtan on his lips. Sri Krishna, the one to whom even the most fallen send their adoration, to whom mortal hearts sprout speech only to utter, “My Beloved, My Lord, My Master”.

So I have wondered, what would I do if He appeared in front. Would I jump in joy, would I rush into His embrace never to return..oh what would I do I wonder. What I have realized is this though, if Sri Krishna did appear I would break down, not in relief it is all over but rather ask through tears what makes Him put souls through everything, for what purpose.

What is the point of this post? Well, I came across a picture that, to me, captures that anguish of seeing Him and silently asking, “Why?”. See the picture. Have not embedded it in the post because I wanted to set context.

Anjaneya – The Beginning

Anjaneya

This was in a time before men were as now. More kin to animal than man. More raw instinct than thought. Every inflection of mind indulged without an overarching plan beyond the impulses of life. Mind was as a tail, twitching, dangling, swinging. All becoming was what She ordained. The leap from a branch to another, the teeth baring grin, the litany of postures were all Her. We knew everything it seemed.

I was the first. Out of my mother’s womb, I was bathed in glowing mane. Anjana, I heard them call, it would be while before I understood speech, but I knew..Anjana, it was her, the one who had consented to yield me, forever I would bear her name. Behind just one name which I would know much later.

Of all simians I could stay in place. Unmonkey-like they said, sick, will be nothing, will not see as many summers as fingers in our hands. I knew not why, this was within, this is what I was. I could stay still. Had no need for trees, or to jump..I saw a vaster forest in my mind, hints of wildness and power that fellow simians longed for, I saw unlimited monkeyness possible within..my antics were within. Where my brothers were content with meagre leaps between trees, I leapt to the Sun thinking it a ripe fruit. I was different.

It would be many years before I heard that name. A mere rumor, that travelled on the whims of men. A man who was more than man. God they said. Who in his stillness was more than all the chattering of men. Like me I thought. It was born then, an ardor, a flame within..and I wanted to see him. I, a monkey, a mere simian had loved something without seeing. The name, the syllables would soon be more than my mother. I said it once again in my mind, savoring each inflection of sound, “Rrraamaa, Rrraamaa”.

With those first utterances I would be bound to him forever. He Sri Rama and I Anjaneya, son of Anjana.

Paintings credits – Paritosh Sarda