Bhakti-yoga is not exclusive but is comprehensive

A spiritual path is exclusive when it claims sole rights over access to the Absolute Truth, that is, claims to be the only way to God. Many of the world’s major religions are exclusivist, thereby fostering intolerance.

A spiritual path is comprehensive when it caters to all people at all levels, that is, offers a one-stop self-transformational package that works for people from all backgrounds. Spirituality centered on a comprehensive path becomes a science, for it is universally repeatable.

The path of bhakti-yoga is not exclusive. The Bhagavad-gita conclusively endorses bhakti-yoga (18.64, 18.6518.66), but also acknowledges the validity and potency of other paths such as karma-yoga and jnana-yoga. Its penultimate section (18.4118.42, 18.43, 18.44, 18.45, 18.46, 18.47, 18.48, 18.49, 18.50, 18.51-5318.5418.55) outlines the trajectory through which a seeker progresses from karma-yoga (18.4118.4218.4318.4418.4518.4618.4718.48) through jnana-yoga (18.4918.5018.51-5318.5418.55) to bhakti-yoga (18.54, 18.55).

And the next verse (18.56) indicates how we may be engaged in all kinds of work (sarva karmany ‘pi sada), still we can take shelter of Krishna and by his mercy attain the supreme eternal destination. In the Vedic culture of varnashrama, people’s work or vocation correlates with their psychophysical nature and their moral evolution. So, the phrase “engaged in all kinds of work” implies that we can be at any level and still avail of bhakti-yoga. Therefore, this verse conveys how bhakti-yoga is comprehensive: it reach goes down to the lowest level to pick up even the most unevolved people and extends up to the highest level, for it elevates practitioners to the supreme destination.

This comprehensive-but-not-exclusive hallmark of bhakti-yoga is evident in the Gita’s conclusion (18.66), it acknowledges the validity of other paths by referring to them as dharmas, paths for moral and spiritual growth; yet urges us to give up all such dharmas for the supreme dharma of bhakti.

Thus, bhakti-yoga never becomes intolerant, yet remains supremely potent.

Bhagavad Gita Chapter 18 Text 56

"Though engaged in all kinds of activities, My pure devotee, under My protection, reaches the eternal and imperishable abode by My grace."

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4 Comments

  1. the goudiya mutt is synonymous with pure unalloyed devotion.unconditional surrender involves completely abandoning ones logic and submitting to the absolute will of the supreme lord.the seeming paradox is the case of Lord chaitanya mahaprabhu who wass a scholar par excellence.so was Lord adi sankara.the more you try to unravel the enigma called god the more it confuses you.Hence the best form of worship is bhakti yoga which means direct and unreserved worship of the supreme Lord. In the twelfth chapter, the lord emphatically declares the ualities of his devotees who are dearest to him.srimati radha rani who was a village belle achived such intimacy and proximity with the supreme Lord only by dint off unconditional, absolute and unreserved service.the uintessential appeal of iSKCOn lies in its simplistic approach of pure devotion or the bhakti cult notwithstanding the veritable treasure trove off transcendental knowledge that they have.Chanting the maha mantra,worshiping the deities andd partaking of mahaprasad and serving the lord exclusively has yielded rich returns.8.66 endorses the same concept.

    Hare krsna.

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  2. hare krsna pr ji . this explanation makes it very clear that even a sudra can follow bhakti-yoga and get elevated. this explanation also clarifies that even a grihstha can follow bhakti yoga and ge elevated by remaining in that position. hare krsna.

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  3. Hare Krishna!
    Another drop of nectar!
    Very nicely explained.
    Thank you very much!

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  4. Thank you Pr for this erudite article…,

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