The notion that bhakti is for the less intelligent is less intelligent

Some Bhagavad-gita commentators state: “Bhakti is for sentimental, less intelligent people; whereas jnana is for intelligent people.”

A careful study of the Gita, however, reveals another picture. Different paths are indeed customized for different kinds of people, but bhakti is universally inclusive, as the Gita’s conclusion (18.66) to give up all other paths and adopt bhakti demonstrates.

The notion that bhakti is for less intelligent is less intelligent, for it reflects an inability to comprehend the glory of bhakti. To understand this, let’s look at the Gita’s answers to two pertinent questions.

Are all bhaktas sentimental and less intelligent?

Bhakti is so accommodating that it can reach down and elevate even the less intelligent. The Gita (10.10, 10.11) confirms that Krishna personally gives intelligence (dadami buddhi-yogam) to his devotees, thereby making inconsequential their possible lack of intellectual proficiency. However, the Gita never states that only less intelligent people become bhaktas. To the contrary, it categorically declares (10.08) that those who are the most intelligent (budha) serve Krishna with spiritual sentiments (bhava-samanvitah).

This verse implies that the sentiments of bhaktas are different from the sentiments of less intelligent people whose sentimentality stems from spiritual ignorance. In contrast, devotees’ sentiments emerge from mature spiritual knowledge – realization of Krishna’s supremacy.

Do all intelligent people become jnanis?

Jnana is customized for intellectuals, but it doesn’t have a monopoly on them. Jnanis graduate to bhakti when their jnana matures, as the Gita asserts repeatedly (07.19; 15.19; 18.54). Many astute intellectuals recognize the conclusive glory of bhakti and bypass jnana to adopt bhakti from the beginning. They use their intelligence to worship Krishna by studying his message, as the Gita (18.70) recommends.

Thus, bhakti is the best path for all people – intelligent and less intelligent. Real intelligence means to adopt bhakti immediately.

Bhagavad Gita Chapter 10 Text 08

"I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me. The wise who perfectly know this engage in My devotional service and worship Me with all their hearts."

Relief and release – the two fruits of purification
Equal disposition doesn’t mean identical action
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6 Comments

  1. Prabhu, thank you for this timely article and advice.

    As Krishna has declared often, bhakti is the true essence of devotional service … and the path to reaching Him with earnestness and sincerity.

    As a neophyte devotee, I am led by bhakti and devotional service.

    Hare Krishna!

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  2. hare krsna . PAMHO. thank you pr ji c c das for clarifying the real meaning of intelligent , less intelligent and real intelligence. when one starts performing bhakti directly , then the by product of this is knowledge and intelligence, which comes automatically.

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  3. Bhaktas are ‘Sumedhshah’ the most intelligent according to Srimad Bhagvatam….Because they are working for the Permanent benefit…

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  4. In his commentary in SB,SP writes that unless one is very intelligent can not accept dev0tional service and and can not be in KC. How do we understand this?.

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  5. Hare Krishna and thank you prabhu and ‘God uses the foolish of this world to confound the wise’

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