Bhakti Sandarbha 217: Three Divisions of Bhakti (Āropa siddhā bhakti)
This is another extremely important anuccheda of Bhakti Sandarbha where the three categories āropa-siddhā, saṅga-siddhā and svarūpa-siddhā bhakti are explained. I visited this subject in 2007.
Three Divisions of Bhakti
217.1 Āropa-siddhā, saṅga-siddhā and svarūpa-siddhā bhakti
सा भक्तिस्त्रिविधा—आरोपसिद्धा, सङ्गसिद्धा, स्वरूपसिद्धा च।
This bhakti is of three types: āropa-siddhā [actions superimposed with the quality of direct devotion]; saṅga-siddhā, [actions accompanied by devotion]; and svarūpa-siddhā, [actions that are directly devotion themselves].
तत्रारोपसिद्धा स्वतो भक्तित्वाभावेऽपि भगवदर्पणादिना भक्तित्वं प्राप्ता कर्मादिरूपा।
Out of these, āropa-siddhā bhakti consists of karma and similar practices, which although devoid of bhakti by themselves, attain the quality of bhakti by processes like being offered to Bhagavān.
सङ्गसिद्धा स्वतो भक्तित्वाभावेऽपि तत्परिकरतया संस्थापनेन, "तत्र भागवतान् धर्मान् शिक्षेद्गुर्वात्मदैवतः" (भा. ११.३.२२) इत्यादिप्रकरणेषु, "सर्वतो मनसोऽसङ्गम्" (भा. ११.३.२३) इत्यादिना लब्धतदन्तःपाता ज्ञानकर्मतदङ्गरूपा।
Saṅga-siddhā bhakti refers to jñāna and karma, which although devoid of bhakti by themselves, become component parts of bhakti by being utilized as assistants to devotion. For example, the topic of pure devotion was discussed beginning with this statement:
amāyayānuvṛttyā yais tuṣyed ātmātmado hariḥ ||
Making the guru one’s personal deity, one should learn from him the principles of devotion to Bhagavān. By sincerely enacting those principles, Bhagavān Hari, the Self [of the Universe] who gives Himself [to His devotees], will be pleased. (SB 11.3.22, Anu 206)
In the context of this discussion, activities that normally fall under the classification of karma and jñāna are understood as components of bhakti when used as assistants to devotion, such as in this statement:
dayām maitrīṁ praśrayaṁ ca bhūteṣv addhā yathocitam
One should first detach the mind from everything, associate with the saintly, and truly offer appropriate compassion towards those who are less evolved, friendship towards equals and respect towards those of greater awareness. (SB 11.3.23)
[Of itself, the act of detaching the mind from matter has nothing to do with devotion, but from the context we can understand that it is being used as an aid to devotion.]
स्वरूपसिद्धा चाज्ञानादिनापि तत्प्रादुर्भावे भक्तित्वाव्यभिचारिणी साक्षात्तदनुगत्यात्मा तदीयश्रवणकीर्तनादिरूपा, "श्रवणं कीर्तनं विष्णोः" (भा. ७.५.२३) इत्यादौ, विष्णोः श्रवणं विष्णोः कीर्तनमिति विशिष्टस्यैव विवक्षितत्वात्।
Svarūpa-siddhā bhakti consists of activities, such as hearing and chanting about Bhagavān, which are directly favorable to Bhagavān in their very nature, and upon being taken up are never divorced from the quality of devotion even if performed unconsciously.
Action directly constituted of bhakti is described in this verse:
arcanaṁ vandanaṁ dāsyaṁ sakhyam ātma-nivedanam ||
There are nine primary forms of devotion to Bhagavān Viṣṇu: hearing about Him, singing His glories, remembering Him, serving His feet, worshiping Him, reciting prayers, serving Him in the mood of an unalloyed servant, serving Him in the mood of an intimate friend, and offering one’s very self unto Him. (SB 7.5.23)
तेषामपि नारोपसिद्धत्वं, प्रत्युत मूढप्रोन्मत्तादिषु तदनुकर्तृष्वपि कथञ्चित् सम्बन्धेन फलप्रापकत्वात् स्वरूपसिद्धत्वं,
[The hearing and chanting referred to in the above verse are also actions, but because they are specifically intended for Bhagavān Viṣṇu, they are distinct from karma and jñāna, and thus] they do not come under the category of āropa-siddhā bhakti. Rather, even if a person lacking awareness or an intoxicated person has some sort of contact with these activities, even enacting them imitatively, these acts of devotion will bestow their result. Therefore they are svarūpa-siddhā bhakti.
यथा श्रीप्रह्लादस्य पूर्वजन्मनि श्रीनृसिंहचतुर्दश्युपवासः, यथा कुक्कुरमुखगतस्य श्येनस्य भगवन्मन्दिरपरिक्रमः। एवमन्यदृष्ट्यादिना मूढादिभिः कृतस्य वन्दनस्यापि ज्ञेयम्।
An example of a person intoxicated with desire, who obtained the benefit of inadvertently fasting on the appearance day of Bhagavān Nṛsiṁha, is seen in the case of Prahlāda in his previous life. An example of a living being, less evolved in consciousness and yet obtaining the result of devotion, is seen in the case of a hawk, which was caught in the mouth of a dog and received the benefit of circumambulating a temple of God [when the dog ran around the temple with the bird still in its mouth]. Similarly, those undeveloped in awareness imitate true devotion when they offer obeisance and prayers with some ulterior motive, yet they ultimately obtain the result.
[Thus the fasting of Prahlāda, the circumambulation of the temple by the hawk and the prayers of the unaware should all be understood as svarūpa-siddhā bhakti because they all bestow the fruit of bhakti, as evidenced in these examples].
217.2 Bhakti with or without ulterior motive
तदेवं त्रिविधापि सा पुनरकैतवा सकैतवा चेति द्विविधा ज्ञेया। तत्रारोपसङ्गसिद्धयोर्यस्या भक्तेः सम्बन्धेन भक्तिपदप्राप्त्यां सामर्थ्यं तन्मात्रापेक्षत्वं चेदकैतवत्वं, स्वीयान्यदीयफलापेक्षत्वं चेत् सकैतवत्वम्।
These three types of bhakti each have two further divisions: akaitavā, without ulterior motive; and sa-kaitavā, with ulterior motive. Āropa-siddhā bhakti and saṅga-siddhā bhakti are akaitavā if the intention is simply to attain pure devotion, by contact with which these two attain the designation of bhakti. If, however, bhakti is made use of simply as a means to attain the results of their respective processes or some other result, then these two are sa-kaitavā.
स्वरूपसिद्धायाश्च यस्य भगवतः सम्बन्धेन तादृशं माहात्म्यं तन्मात्रापेक्षपरिकरत्वं चेदकैतवत्वं, प्रयोजनान्तरापेक्षया कर्मज्ञानपरिकरत्वं चेत् सकैतवत्वम्।
Svarūpa-siddhā bhakti, which is so glorious due to its direct connection with Bhagavān, is called akaitavā if it is performed with the sole intention of pleasing Bhagavān. If, however, it becomes associated with karma or jñāna and is undertaken for some other purpose, it is sa-kaitavā.
इयमेवाकैतवा अकिञ्चनाख्यत्वेन पूर्वमुक्ता, "धर्मः प्रोज्झितकैतवोऽत्र परमः" (भा. १.१.२) इत्येव वास्य तदुभयविधत्वे प्रमाणं ज्ञेयम्। तथोक्तं—"प्रीयतेऽमलया भक्त्या हरिरन्यद्विडम्बनम्" (भा. ७.७.५२) इति।
This same akaitavā bhakti was previously referred to as akiñcanā bhakti. That bhakti has these two divisions of akaitvā and sa-kaitavā is evidenced in this verse: “In this Bhāgavatam, parama-dharma, devoid of kaitava, has been explained.” (SB 1.1.2) The same conclusion can be drawn from this statement: “Bhagavān Hari is pleased only by pure devotion. Everything else is merely a show.” (SB 7.7.52) [The word viḍambanam in the verse means the same as kaitava.]
217.3 Āropa siddhā
अथ आरोपसिद्धा—एतदर्थमेव "नैष्कर्म्यमप्यच्युतभाववर्जितम्" (भा. १.५.१२) इत्यादौ सकामनिष्कामयोर्द्वयोरपि कर्मणोर्निन्दा, भगवद्वैमुख्याविशेषात्।
Now we will discuss āropa-siddhā bhakti. Action with attachment to the results and action free from such attachment were both disregarded in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 1.5.13, because they are indistinct from the attitude of indifference to Bhagavān. [Both these types of actions are not even āropa-siddhā bhakti, for the action or its result are not offered to Bhagavān.]
तत्र यादृच्छिकचेष्टाया अपि भगवदर्पितत्वे भगवद्धर्मत्वं भवति, किमुत वैदिककर्मण इति वक्तुं तस्या अपि तद्रूपत्वमाह (भा. ११.२.३६)—
This is precisely what is implied in the following verse:
na śobhate jñānam alaṁ nirañjanam
kutaḥ punaḥ śaśvad abhadram īśvare
na cārpitaṁ karma yad apy akāraṇam
Even knowledge that is pure and free from bondage to action is without beauty, if it is devoid of devotion to Bhagavān Acyuta. What then can be said of action, which is always inauspicious when not offered to Bhagavān, even if it is performed without material motive? (SB 1.5.12, 12.12.53)
करोति यद्यत् सकलं परस्मै
नारायणायेति समर्पयेत् तत्॥
Whatever action one performs with the body, mind, speech, senses, intellect and heart, being impelled by one’s own nature, should be offered to the Supreme Bhagavān Nārāyaṇa. (SB 11.2.36)
पूर्वं हि "धर्मान् भागवतान् ब्रूत" (भा. ११.२.३१) इति प्रश्नानन्तरं, "ये वै भगवता प्रोक्ता" (भा. ११.२.३४) इत्यादिना मुख्यत्वेन साक्षात्तल्लब्धये उपायभूताः श्रवणकीर्तनादयो भागवता धर्मा लक्षिताः। ते चात्रैव "शृण्वन् सुभद्राणि रथाङ्गपाणेः" (भा. ११.२.३९) इत्यादिना कतिचिद्दर्शिताः।
Previous to the above verse King Nimi had made this request: “Please describe bhāgavata-dharma” (SB 11.2.31). In response to this the sage said:
añjaḥ puṁsām aviduṣāṁ viddhi bhāgavatān hi tān
All those means that were spoken of by Bhagavān so that unenlightened humanity could easily attain realization of the Self you should know to be bhāgavata-dharma.” (SB 11.2.34)
As a result of this, actions such as hearing and chanting about Bhagavān, which are the means to attain Bhagavān directly, were defined as primary bhāgavata-dharma. Some of these practices were highlighted in the same chapter in verses such as this:
janmāni karmāṇi ca yāni loke
gītāni nāmāni tad-arthakāni
gāyan vilajjo vicared asaṅgaḥ
Hearing of the auspicious births and activities of Bhagavān Hari, the wielder of the disc, and singing His names, which are famous throughout the world, denoting His birth and activities, one should move through life free from attachment and inhibition.” (SB 11.2.39)
उत्तराध्याये च—"तत्र भागवतान् धर्मान् शिक्षेद्गुर्वात्मदैवतः" (भा. ११.३.२२) इत्युपक्रमवाक्यादनन्तरं, इति "भागवतान् धर्मान् शिक्षन् भक्त्या तदुत्थया" (भा. ११.३.३३) इत्युपसंहारवाक्यस्य प्राग् भागवतधर्मत्वेनान्यसङ्गत्यागादिकमपि वक्ष्यते—"सर्वतो मनसोऽसङ्गम्" (भा. ११.३.२३) इत्यादिना।
In the next chapter of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, bhāgavata-dharma is discussed beginning from this verse:
One should regard one’s guru as one’s own self and as Bhagavān, the very object of one’s devotion. While serving him without duplicity, one should learn the principles regarding devotion to Bhagavān. By enacting those very principles, Bhagavān Hari, who is the Soul of the Universe and who offers Himself to His devotees, is pleased. (SB 11.3.22)
By learning the principles of bhāgavata-dharma thus stated, a person dedicated to Bhagavān surmounts the unfathomable realm of illusion, through devotion emerging from an understanding of these principles. (SB 11.3.33)
In the midst of this description, activities such as giving up all other association are also spoken of as part of bhāgavata-dharma, as in this verse: “One should detach the mind from everything.” (SB 11.3.23)
तस्मात् लौकिककर्माद्यर्पणमिदं, यथाकथञ्चित् तद्धर्मसिद्ध्यर्थमेवोच्यते।
Therefore the offering of material activities, referred to previously (SB 11.2.36) [which is included in the description of bhāgavata-dharma], has been spoken of to enable people to somehow attain bhāgavata-dharma.
अर्थश्चायं टीकायाम्—"आत्मना चित्तेनाहङ्कारेण वा अनुसृतो यः स्वभावस्तस्मात्। अयमर्थः—न केवलं विधितः कृतमेवेति नियमः, स्वभावानुसारि लौकिकमपीति। श्रीगीतासु च—
This same conclusion is expressed in the commentary of Śrīdhara Svāmī: “One should offer to Bhagavān the activities impelled by one’s own nature, which guides the heart or the ego. This means that there is no rule that only activities performed according to scriptural injunctions are to be offered. Rather, one should offer even worldly activities arising out of one’s nature.” The same idea is stated in the Gītā:
यत् तपस्यसि कौन्तेय तत् कुरुष्व मदर्पणम्॥ (गीता ९.२७) इति॥ इत्येषा।
Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer in sacrifice, whatever you give away in charity, and whatever austerity you perform, O son of Kuntī, do that as an offering to Me. (Gītā 9.27)
इतः पूर्वं "प्राणबुद्धिधर्माधिकारतः" (भा. १०.२३.२७) इत्यादिकमन्त्रश्च तथा।
The same conclusion can be drawn from this mantra,
And before commencing worship, one should offer the functions of the vital air, the intellect, the body and acts done in accordance with one’s Vedic duty.
अत्र स्वाभाविककर्मणोऽर्पणे दुष्कर्मणो द्विविधा गतिः—ज्ञानेच्छूनामविशेषेण, भक्तीच्छूनां तु अनेन दुर्वासनदुःखदर्शनेन च स करुणामयः करुणां करोत्विति वा—
त्वामनुस्मरतः सा मे हृदयान् नापसर्पतु॥
(वि.पु. १.२०.१९) इति विष्णुपुराणोक्तप्रकारेण,
The following prayer from the Viṣṇu Purāṇa:
Those lacking discrimination have unswerving attachment for sense pleasure. O Bhagavān, while remembering You, I pray that a similar quality of unswerving love for You be not uprooted from my heart. (VP 1.20.19)
मनोऽभिरमते तद्वन् मनोऽभिरमतां त्वयि॥ (प.पु. ६.१२८.२५८)
इति पाद्मोक्तप्रकारेण च मम सुकर्मणि दुष्कर्मणि च यद्रागसामान्यं तत् सर्वतोभावेन भगवद्विषयमेव भवत्विति समाधेयम्।
And from a similar type of prayer found in the Padma Purāṇa:
As the minds of young girls delight in the presence of a young boy, and as the minds of young boys delight in the presence of a young girl, O Bhagavān, let my mind rejoice in You.
It is shown that an aspirant of devotion may offer unwholesome deeds with the following intention: “Let whatever attachment I have to wholesome or unwholesome deeds be fully and exclusively directed towards Bhagavān.”
कामिनां तु न सर्वथैव सर्वदुष्कर्मार्पणम्, "वेदोक्तमेव कुर्वाणो निःसङ्गोऽर्पितमीश्वरे:" (भा. ११.३.४६) इत्यत्र पुनर्वैदिकमेवेश्वरेऽर्पितं कुर्वाण इत्युक्तेः॥
Those fraught with material desire, however, should by all means offer all their unwholesome deeds. On the other hand, we do find statements that only Vedic activities should be offered to Bhagavān, such as this verse:
One who executes only those actions prescribed by the Vedas without attachment to the fruit, and who offers the results to the Supreme Bhagavān attains the perfection of being freed from bondage to karma. (SB 11.3.46)
Commentary by Satyanarayana Dasa Babaji Maharaja
After giving the definition of bhakti Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī does its detailed analysis. The reason for this is that he wants to make us understand that the pure devotion that was called by the names such as akiñcanā, nirguṇā, ananyā, uttamā, śuddhā and ekāntikī. It is only this bhakti that is the abhidheya in śāstra. If we do not understand it properly then we will engage in something that is not the real abhidheya and will not achieve the ultimate goal. Vyāvṛttir vyavahāro vā lakṣaṇasya prayojanam – the function of a definition is to distinguish the object defined from everything else and to make use of it. Since bhakti is not some gross object, and since knowledge of bhakti is not widespread, there are good chances that one can mistake something non-bhakti for bhakti. Therefore, after giving the brief definition of bhakti Śrī Jīva begins explaining things which are not bhakti but look like so. First he makes three categories of bhakti, each having two further divisions:
The activities that are directly related to Bhagavān such as chanting His name, remembering Him, worshiping Him, cleaning His temple, etc., are bhakti by their very nature. They have the intrinsic quality of bhakti in them which is service, sevā. These activities, thus, are called svarūpa-siddhā bhakti. These activites give benefit to anyone who comes in contact with them, knowingly or unknowingly. It is like contacting fire. Fire will burn any one who touches it because fire has the potency to burn. Karma or performing actions prescribed in the Vedas or secular actions are not directly related to Bhagavān. Therefore, they do not form part of bhakti by their intrinsic nature. However, if these activities are offered to Bhagavān then they take the nature of bhakti. It is as if bhakti has been superimposed onto them. This is called āropa-siddhā bhakti. Then there are some activities that also do not have the intrinsic nature of bhakti in them, such as controlling mind, or renouncing material objects. But if these activities assist in execution of svarūpa-siddhā bhakti then they are also counted as bhakti because of being associated with bhakti. Such bhakti is called saṅga-siddhā bhakti. These include actions which form part of karma, jñāna or yoga. It is like an iron pot that holds burning wood in it. The iron pot cannot burn by itself but having contacted the fire it will also burn.
These three divisions of bhakti have further two divisions each, namely akaitava and sa-kaitava. Kaitava means deception, therefore, akaitava means with deception and sa-kaitava means with deception. When any of these bhakti is performed only for the sake of pleasure of Bhagavān then it is called akaitava. When it is done to gain some other objective then it is called sa-kaitava. For example one may offer one’s karma to Bhagavān with the intention of getting pure bhakti. Then such āropa-siddhā bhakti is called akaitava. However, if karma is offered to gain some material boon then it will be called sa-kaitava. The same is true of the other two.
These two divisions of bhakti are understood from verse 1.1.2 fo Śrīmad Bhāgavatam. In this verse the supreme dharma, i.e., bhakti is qualified with the word projjhita-kaitava or devoid of kaitava. A modifier is used to distinguish an object from other objects of the same class. Thus it implies that there must be bhakti that is not devoid of kaitava. Otherwise there was no ned to use the modifier projjhita-kaitava.
Nest Śrī Jīva begins a detailed analysis of āropa-siddhā bhakti. We have already studied that karma by itself does not bring awareness of Bhagavān, regardless wether it is doem with a motive or just as a duty. Nārada Muni has strongly condemned karma while instructing Vyāsa. This criticism is of the karma that is not offered to Bhagavān be. Only if karma is offered to Bhagavān then it can bring awareness of Brahman or Bhagavān depending upon the type of association an execture of karma gets. If he gets the association of a jñānī saint then karma will lead to jñāna, however, if he meets a devotee saint then he will take to bhakti.
The word karma is technically used for the duties prescribed in the Veda. But even secular action if offered to Bhagavān brings awareness of Bhagavān. This is the opinion of sage Kavi (11.2.31) as well as of Kṛṣṇa (Gītā 8.27). Although karma itself is not bhakti nor is offering of karma, but while offering karma there is awareness of Bhagavān. One cannot offer without thinking of Bhagavān. That is musch part is bhakti. This is superimposed onto the offering of karma and thus it is called āropa-siddhā bhakti.
Secular acts could be good or bad. For a person desiring to attain jñāna there is no difference between offering these two types of acts because a jñānī does not have the ego of doesrship. He or she does not consider himself or herself as the doer of good or bad acts. But one desiring bhakti should pray to Bhagavān to fix one’s mind on Bhagavān under all circumstances. Whatever attachment one has for good or bad acts should be only towards Bhagavān. A person desiring a material boon from karma should offer all karma – good or bad -- to Bhagavān. This is one opinion. However, sage Āvirhotra says that only Vedic karma should be offered to Bhagavān.
Bhakti Sandarbha 214-215 : The Process of Brahman Realization
Bhakti Sandarbha 212-213 : The Spiritual Guru is the Manifestation of Bhagavān
Bhakti Sandarbha 210-211: The Mantra Guru is Also Compulsory
Bhakti Sandarbha 209 : The bhajana-śikṣā guru is also necessary
Bhakti Sandarbha 208 : There is No Possibility of Knowledge Without Guru
Bhakti Sandarbha 207 : Dīkṣā Guru is Only One