Philosophy of Bhakti

Bhakti Movement which took place in India during medieval period, is significant part of India’s history and psyche. Leave aside the debate on negative impact it created making the society move away from action-oriented life, resulting into missing Industrial Revolution bus. This movement had its roots in Vedic culture. As a student of Indology, I am very curious to understand this aspect of Indian history.

Prof V N Jha, well known expert on Sanskrit and Nyay Darshan(Indian Logic), former director of Center for Advanced Studies in Sanskrit(CASS) in University of Pune, had conducted session on it recently. That included reading of Sanskrit text of Narada Bhakti Sutra. I was able to attend first few modules of that. We also tried our hands with live webcast. Here is the link to YouTube video of the first day’s session.

As part of the same series, session on reading of another doctrine called, Shandilya Bhakti Sutra has been organized in Pune in the week of October 26. This will be at a scenic location called Mira Ghar near Lonavala. Here is what Prof V N Jha says about this program, ‘Certain programs are not routine ones. This program is one such program which is meant for transformation in life. We began with Narada Bhakti Sutra at Pune  and we continue this with the same idea in mind. It is the need for the survival of humanity and inculcating human values and a very deep sense of service.  We are living in a world where very few come forward to do charity to serve others . The worst part is,  such people do not stop at that; they are not happy when others do it.This program will give one a chance to clean one’s inner dirt.   You need to spread this . Experience the depth of Indian classical wisdom. The philosophy of Bhakti is the greatest contribution of India to mankind. You will encounter a rational discourse of this in Shandilya. You will have arguments why Bhakti is greater than knowledge.’

It is not very clear as to whether Shandilya Bhakti Sutra precedes Narada Bhakti Sutra. But Narada Bhakti Sutra is certainly smaller and rather simple to the beginners. Here is golden opportunity to learn and hear Prof V N Jha again, explain this philosophy in his easy and lucid style. He is going to refer Shandilya Bhakti Sutra text published by Ramakrishna Math and translated by Swami Harshananada. There is no need to have prior understanding of Sanskrit.

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Updates on Oct 27, 2015:

I also learnt over the weekend two things while visiting the link on newly relaunched Sanskrit Department website of University of Mumbai. I thought sharing on this topic here:

  1. There was a workshop on Gaudiya Bhakti Tradition at the university where I learnt some interesting facts on Bhakti in Gaudiya tradition. I am quoting here from that page related to this workshop: “He took an analytical overview of origin and development of Gaudiya Vaishnavism in a very lucid and intellectual manner. He expounded various concepts like Bhakti, philosophy and literary tradition of Gaudiya Vaishnavism. He explained how the philosophy of achintya bhedabheda stands different from other Bhakti cults. Sources for this cult are Bhagavadgita and Bhagavata Purana.Bhakti is the end and means for Gaudiya Vaishnavas and Krishna as Supreme Reality and not the avatara of Vishnu. Bhakti is defined in very unique manner as ‘participation or sharing’ with the Lord. It’s a doctrine which makes one act and not a passive one. He explained the spiritual significance of Krishna’s rasa lila and how divine love between Radha and Krishna indicate the mystic relation between jiva and Ishavara as they are one as well as different.Significance of rituals, samkirtana and surrender to God are different dimensions of Gaudiya Bhakti. He also touched the topic from social perspective, spread of Gaudiya Vaishnavsim in different parts of country and outside country.”
  2. The second interesting thing I learnt that the department has a course on Bhakti Literature.

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