Seek not to grasp God – seek to be grasped by God
To grasp God means to use our intelligence to comprehend and conquer him; we treat him like an intellectual concept to be figured out. And we practice bhakti-yoga in an intellectual mode: “I have grasped this aspect about Krishna. Now I will grasp that, and then that.”
The process of bhakti-yoga is both intellectual and trans-intellectual. It is intellectual because bhakti is inclusive – it engages all our faculties, including our intelligence. But bhakti is also trans-intellectual because the object of bhakti, Krishna, being supreme, is far greater than our intelligence and so is beyond its grasp. What, then, is the purpose of the intelligence in bhakti? It is the same as the purpose of our other faculties – to serve him, to attract his uplifting mercy and to become devotionally captivated by him; that is, to be grasped by him.
In the Bhagavad-gita, Arjuna demonstrates such devotional utilization of the intelligence. After hearing the Gita’s four-verse essence (10.08-11), Arjuna acknowledges Krishna’s supreme position (10.12-13) and asserts that no one, not even the gods, can know Krishna (10.14). This assertion conveys that we can’t grasp Krishna.
Thereafter, Arjuna desires to hear Krishna’s unlimited glories. Why? To relish those glories (10.16) and to train his intelligence for remembering Krishna in this material world (10.17). In response, the Gita (10.20-42) gives an indicative, non-exhaustive list of Krishna’s material manifestations (vibhutis).
Later, it (12.06-07) declares that Krishna swiftly delivers us if we fix our mind on him. How does he deliver? The Gita commentator Sridhar Swami states that Krishna gives us the intellectual comprehension that aids in material disentanglement. A later commentator, Vishvanath Chakrvarti, elaborates that this intellectual comprehension aids in increasing our devotional attraction for Krishna, leading to material disentanglement as a byproduct.
Thus, Krishna delivers us by grasping our head and heart.
Think it over:
- How is bhakti both intellectual and trans-intellectual?
- How does the Gita indicate that Krishna can’t be grasped intellectually?
How does Krishna deliver us from material existence?
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