I read a post recently, by an author I read regularly. Her most recent post is what I wanted to bring your attention to – that can be found here. In case you care not to go there and read it (it’s not terribly long), I’ll share the essence of it as I perceived it: The power of bhakti. In the past, when I’ve written about bhakti, I’ve been critical. Please believe: I still am.
At odds with the message of a few modern gurus, I think bhakti is a poor choice for modern man to try to forge an entire path from. However, I can admit that this is my personal inclination based on my personal experience, and while I’d love for others to have the same realization, I don’t expect it. Still, bhakti has immense value when handled appropriately and what I find amazing is the control of bhakti exhibited by the author’s son, as mentioned in the post. He seems to either be a very clever guesser or he’s perhaps a future jnani.
She was chanting to Shiva when her son approached her with a request to chant Kali instead. (The mantra she was chanting is known as panchaksharamantra – the five (panch) letter (akshara) mantra. If Vaishnavs have “mahamantra” revealed by Prabhupad, then this is the mahamantra of Shaivites – only it has Vedic origin.) Initially she resisted, to which he responded that Shiva is a nickname for The Mother anyway. Her son is hardly a few years past the toddlering age and yet he speaks as though he recognizes The Mother in all and already seems to realize that the Names are a convention employed within Maya. Further, in many Hindu sects a symptom of bhakti is that the various gods other than the ishtadevata are known to be other/lesser manifestations of the god of choice for that sect. With that in mind, if his words might be taken to imply the development of Jnana Yoga within him (as I suspect), surely the response he gave his mother should likewise imply the development of Bhakti Yoga.
No matter how you slice it, when you get into the meat of Hinduism (hey now… many Hindus DO eat meat) you’ll practically invariably come to learn that (almost) no matter what god you worship, that god is lifeless without the animating Shakti supporting him. As far as I can tell, Chaitanya is the only vaishnav “manifestation” of god that is known to be a two-in-one composition of The Mother and The Father, in that context known as Vishnu and Lakshmi. For those of a shaivite inclination, the more exotic and well known image of Ardhanarishwar is given – less androgynous than Chaitanya, and literally a half/half of Shiva and Shakti.
That author’s son likely doesn’t yet recognize the profound depth inherent to his own words, but from where I stand his little internal landscape is already a demonstrating a fine and productive mix of Jnana and Bhakti. Surely, for him and anyone else, a similar approach involving such a beautiful balance between Bhakti and Jnana will result in a swift departure from the wheel of samsara.