Gita Series – 125: Bhagavad Gita Chapter XII. Verse 1 – 5

The XII chapter of Bhagavad Gita is known as ‘the Yoga of Devotion’ or ‘bhakti yoga’ and has twenty verses.

Arjuna said: “Some devotees have fixed their minds on you and worship You all the time and yet other devotees adore You as the imperishable and formless Brahman. Of these two, who is the best knower of yoga?”

Krishna answers: “Those who fix their mind on Me all the time, meditate and worship My form with great devotion and faith are considered as the best yogī-s by Me. However, those who control their senses, have to be equalitarian, concern for others, and adore Me, the Brahman as their own self also attain Me. But, it is difficult for those, whose mind is attached to My Brahman form; because oneness with Me is attained with difficulty for the embodied beings.”

Arjuna asks Krishna about the confusion that prevails in the minds of many. The question is whether to worship the Lord with form or without form (Brahman with attributes or without attributes).

There are two options to attain the Lord. One is the devotion, the ardent love for the Lord. Devotion is not something by which one keeps distance from the Lord. The love for the Lord has to blossom within the heart and mind leading to perpetual thought about the Lord. There are instances where devotees drape winter clothing to the idols of the Lord, thinking that the biting cold could affect the Lord. Their mind is so engrossed with the Lord as a result of which they tend to forget that the Lord is beyond all this. This is a typical case of devotion, transforming into love. The other option is to control the mind and meditate on the formless Brahman. This is more difficult than the path of devotion, primarily because one is going to visualize the formless form. One needs to have a thoroughly cleansed mind that is devoid of any secondary thought processes. The inherent nature of the mind is to go after the senses and one has to have strong will power to subdue the mind.

In both the paths, one has to surely tread the spiritual path with utmost care. The main drawback while pursuing the path of simple devotion is its wrong understanding. It is not spending only a limited time before the form of the Lord and during rest of the time never even think about Him. This is not considered as devotion but a routine ritual for the sake of it and does not serve any useful purpose. Krishna had already said in the previous chapters, that what He needs is only pure devotion. He is not concerned with materialistic offerings.

Between the two options – to worship the Lord in a manifested form with steadfast mind and faith and the second one is to meditate on the Lord as Unmanifest. In the second option, apart from faith and steadfast mind, one needs to have absolute self-control, treating everyone alike, and concern for all the beings. In the second option, one’s wisdom and intellect play an important role in realization. This is because one needs to have firm faith and understanding of the omnipresence nature of the Brahman. When the Brahman exists everywhere, why search for Him elsewhere, when one can explore Him within own self. Krishna says that mere devotion with steadfast mind is sufficient to attain Him, than fighting against the inherent nature of the mind. Krishna also says that as long as one attaches importance to his physical body, he may not be able to attain the Lord that easily, basically because his mind is also concerned with his body. His mind gives rise to secondary thought process. The Lord alone does not occupy this mind, but also his body, thereby making the realization process complicated.

Further Readings:

Bhagavad Gita Chapter XI. 47 - 55

Bhagavad Gita Chapter XII. 6 - 9

Bhagavad Gita Chapter XII. 10 - 12