Bhakti is characterized by simple-heartedness, not simple-mindedness
Some people think that the path of bhakti is too simplistic and so is meant for sentimental non-intellectual people. However, the simplicity characteristic of bhakti is not simple-mindedness – it is simple-heartedness. Let’s understand the difference between the two:
Simple-mindedness: In much contemporary intellectual discourse, the word “mind” is used to refer to the intellectual faculty, as when a thinker is honored as “one of the greatest minds of the century.” With this usage, simple-mindedness refers to intellectual naiveté, the inability to reason critically and coherently. Is bhakti for the simple-minded? No; only the most historically ignorant people can claim that bhakti is only for the simple-minded. The leading exponents of bhakti like Ramanuja, Vyasatirtha and Jiva Goswami rank among the best minds that the world has ever seen, as even a cursory perusal of their intellectual works will reveal. Of course, bhakti, being a matter of the heart, can be practiced even by the non-intellectual. But that is evidence of its inclusiveness, not its simple-mindedness.
Simple-heartedness: The simplicity characteristic of bhakti is simple-heartedness: the simple faith in the heart’s intuitive truths. These include the following. Love, the deepest longing of our heart, is not to be rejected, but redirected to life’s highest spiritual level. We can invoke the ultimate power in existence, Krishna’s grace, by our sincere calls of humble devotion. His omnipotent grace can compensate for all our limitations and faults. His holy name is the best expressway to his grace. And life’s greatest attainment is pure love for him, culminating in attaining his eternal abode.
This simple-hearted faith is often the rich, refined climax of the most sophisticated intellectual deliberation, as is indicated in the Bhagavad-gita (07.19): when intellectuals reach their zenith, they surrender to Krishna and embrace the path of bhakti.
“After many births and deaths, he who is actually in knowledge surrenders unto Me, knowing Me to be the cause of all causes and all that is. Such a great soul is very rare.”