This month we delve into the mystical world ofBhakti
the mysterious path of devotion. This isnot the path of ritualism as is has come to beconsidered. This is the ultimate flowering of lovefor the Divine. It entails not ritualistic formalities.And has no protocols of worship. This is purelyand intensely spiritual is conception and execution.Adi Shankara says that Bhakti is intense love forGod
a search beginning, continuing andculminating in love.The charade that passes for Bhakti is a far cry forwhat is actually Bhakti. This issue we hope to clearmany of the misconceptions about Bhakti and tohighlight what is Bhakti.We shall bridge the gap between Meditation andBhakti. And explore the inner secrets of Bhakti.We urge you to obtain a copy of our publication
“The Secrets of Bhakti as narrated by sage Narada”
by enlightened Master Taoshobuddha, this wouldreveal many aspects of Bhakti that this magazinecan only hope to highlight.The extract from the book by professor Rattan Lal
Hangloo entitled “Conceptualizing Bhakti” is of
immense import and worthy of its full reproduction here in this issue of Meditation Times.
Kabir was one of the prominent Bhakti saints in MedievalIndia. His
wife was Loi. Kamal was his son. Surat Gopalawas his main disciple at Benaras.Bijak is the compilation
of Kabir’s teachings.
He combined the Bhakti philosophy of Ramananda, hisguru, with a rare radicalism that epitomized the spirit of communal harmony and unity of God head.Kabir had inherited trenchant arguments and views aboutthe barriers of caste from his Guru, Ramananda. Hispreaching represents a sincere attempt at a religious andsocial synthesis out of conflicting creeds.Kabir was neither a theologian nor a philosopher. Heappears before us as a teacher who had the courage tocondemn what he considered to be shame and counterfeitin both Hinduism and Islam.
The central theme of Kabir’s teachings was Bhakti. He
refused to acknowledge cast distinction or to recognizethe authority of the six schools of Hindu philosophy or thefour divisions of life prescribed by the Brahmanas.He argued that religion without Bhakti was no religion atall and that asceticism, fasting and alms-giving had novalue if unaccompanied by devotional worship (
).By means of Ramaini, Sakhas and Sakhis (dohas, in otherwords), Kabir imparted religious instruction to Hindusand Muslims alike. He had no preference for eitherreligion.
What is interesting about Kabir’s way of preaching is that
he had habit of thinking aloud and the ideal of merelypleasing his hearers was never his objective. In his thinkingand articulations, he thoroughly scrutinized the bases of ritualism and he restlessly fought to remove the ritualisticsuperstitions like visiting the places of pilgrimage.He was also a great satirist and condemned all the hatedinstitutions of his times. The social reformer in Kabir hadsurfaced prominently when he opposed the popular belief in the institutions of Sati
a practice in which wife entersthe funeral pyre of her husband to voluntarily immolateherself as a sign of devotion to her husband. Otherdiscriminatory practices such as veiling of women werealso opposed by him.While refusing to believe that birth in a particular case wasdue to deeds in a previous life, Kabir advocated perfectequality of the Shudras (the fourth Varna as per the Vedas)and the Brahamanas.A firm believer in simple and natural life, Kabir himself wove cloth and sold it in the market like any ordinaryweaver. He did not interpret religious life as a life of idleness, and held that all should toil and earn and helpeach other.He always believed in monotheism.
By Professor Rattan Lal HanglooChair of Indian History,University of West Indies.