Among the various paths Bhakti is the best one. When I arrived to this conclusion I wrote this song at Sat-tal ashram.
உண்டோ “வழியும்” அதனைவெல்ல?
ஞானம், கருமம், துறவுஎல்லாம்
ஆனால் “பக்தி” நெறிஒன்றுமட்டும்
சாத்தால் ஆஸ்ரம், 19-04-1991
On seeing which, can I, the poor one?
follow you Oh Lord!
They proclaim several doctrines
And give a call to follow them
I sought the path of knowledge
which is glorified by the people on earth
Yet I didn’t find peace in it
How can I describe the condition of my mind?
Work hard to save this world
Is there any other path to overcome it?
I followed that path too
But was disappointed at the end
Renounce this world which is nothing but maya
Troubles and sorrow is the end of this world
So I took courage and followed that path too
But I didn’t see the trouble or sorrow ever disappearing
As I become tired after following several ways
By taking pity on this child
Giving ‘bhakti’ as the path
for the way to mukti by you
Knowledge, karma and renunciation
Are true in themselves
Yet the path of bhakti alone
Will complete them all in it.
Sat-tal ashram, 19-04-1991
While at Sat-tal ashram, I was doing a word-by-word study on Bhagavadgita with the help of some commentaries. In that early stage, without someone to guide me properly, I was doing my own study with few books which are more sectarian in nature. However the general thrust of Indian philosophy is that mukti is possible only through proper knowledge. And karma and bhakti are the means to attain it. But my personal study on Gita convinced me that bhakti is the culmination of jnana. Karma helps one not get drifted in our sadhana to attain it.
चित्तस्य शुध्द ये कर्म न तु वस्तूपलब्धये
वस्तु सिध्दि-विचारेण न किंचित् कर्म कोटिभि:॥–Viveka Chudamani, 5
Chittasya shudhya ye karma na tu vastupalabdhaye
Vastu sidhdi-vicaarena na kincit karma kotibhi—Viveka Chudamani, 5
–karmas are done only to cleanse the mind; not to attain the truth
Truth is attained only by proper enquiry and not by doing crores of karma (my own translation)
Even before becoming a bhakta of the Lord I was interested in doing social work and was doing it with my limitation in a small scale on personal level. In the early days of my bhakt,i I was strongly motivated to do social work to the needy. So after my visit to Periyamalai, I collected medicine to distribute to the poor tribes there. Then my deep personal study of Muktiveda convinced me that sharing the gospel is more important than doing social work to uplift people from their wretched condition. Then I was interested to do proper theological study of the Muktiveda to allow me to properly share the gospel and I pushed to get more ‘information’ through various studies and personal reading. Meanwhile my personal experience with people pulled me in two different directions of ‘learning’ versus ‘doing’. And a God-given break for me to do some personal study helped me to analyse them all in a sober manner. I got more time and opportunity to think and meditate without any disturbance by living alone at Sat-tal. There I was convinced that bhakti is the axel which connects both jnana and karma to make them move simultaneously complementing each other to ‘know God and make Him known’. Then there was no turning back. For me bhakti is an inclusive concept which gives space both for jnana and karma to make life holistic. For me jnana without bhakti is mere abstract gathering of information through learning. Similarly karma without bhakti is merely doing one’s own duty for the sake of doing it. Whereas bhakti unites them and helps us keep focused on the Lord by making Him as the centre of our life as both Gita and Muktiveda endorses this by saying:
Yat karosi yadasnaasi yajjuhosi dadaasi yat
Yattapasyasi kaunteya tat kurusva madarpanam. 9:27
O son of Kunti, whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer in sacrifice, whatever you bestow as a gift, whatever you do by way of penance, offer it all to me.—Srimad Bhagavadgita, Sadhaka Sanjivani, Swami Ramsukhadas, Gorakhpur, Gita Press, year not mentioned, 2 vols. Vol. 1 pp. 743-44
Read 1 Cor. 10:31 and Romans 14:7-8