Does devotion suppress our individuality and intelligence?

Some people feel that if they start practicing bhakti spirituality, they will simply have to obey God and thereby suppress their individuality, creativity and initiative and especially their intelligence. 

However, the Bhagavad-gita, a primary bhakti guidebook, never asks us to reject our capacity to think; instead, it provides us abundant food for thought. If the Gita were intended simply to get Arjuna to obey Krishna because he is God, then it could have contained just six words: “I am God. Obey me. Fight.” Instead, Krishna speaks several hundred verses containing multiple levels of philosophical analysis that conclude in a call to Arjuna to deliberate and then do as he desires (18.63). Nowhere in the Gita does Krishna state anything that remotely resembles a demand for unthinking obedience

Of course, the Gita reveals Krishna’s divinity, but it also reveals a vision of God who is not a dictator but a God who encourages humanity to fully utilize the special gift that he has given them: intelligence. We are meant to use our intelligence to contemplate the message of the Gita, and the Gita is confident that such use of intelligence will increase our desire for the supreme transcendence, not decrease that desire. Thus, contemplation is seen to be an aid in loving harmonization, not a tool for subordination. Indeed,  the relationship between the soul and the Supreme in the Gita is of a loving partnership, not a liberty-stripping slavery. 

If we practice bhakti, the result is a blossoming of our personality and our individuality. And we will discover channels for utilizing our individual gifts and interests for finding lasting satisfaction internally and for making meaningful contributions externally.

One-sentence summary:

Devotion centers not on a subordination that suppresses our intelligence and individuality, but on a harmonization that stimulates our intelligence and individuality. 

Think it over:

  • How does the Gita’s message reveal that it doesn’t suppress our intelligence?
  • What is the Gita’s vision of the divine and of the human-divine relationship?
  • How does the Gita’s message nourish our individuality?


To know more about this verse, please click on the image


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  1. Devotion doubles up the intelligence

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