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Bhakti and Karma - Differences between the two

Guest_Som - Fri, 06 Jun 2003 22:19:36 +0530
Hare Krishna Respectable Vaishnavas!

Dandavat Pranams.

I was having a good discussion regarding Bhakti and Karma with my Shree
Viashnava friend. His view was that Bhakti is also Karma. And my view is that
Bhakti is a kind of Karma but not Karma. I wrote the following mail to him.

Would the learned vaishnavas share their views on this topic and
correct me if anything wrong is said in the mail.


Hi Raghu,

When Nishkama Karma is performed there is not any question of desire. I don't
remember having said this. One thing to remember here is desire is only with
respect to the mind/body and not soul. The one and only one desire of the soul
is to get Krishna or His devotees' company. Any other desire is with respect to
the mind/body. Do you agree?

I agree with you that the meaning of the word Karma in many places in BG is
just action. But you should not forget that when it is qualified with some word
then it no longer is the karma. Then what is the requirement of the term Bhakti
if everything is Karma? What do you say about this?

Just a small example regarding my statement above: If I say colourless liquid
then it is water and if I say white liquid then it is milk. So the common thing
is that both are liquid. But you cannot say that water and milk are the same
because they are liquid. Similarly everything done is Karma, but we cannot
equate the Karma which is done exclusively for Krishna ( like Shravanam,
Kirtanam ...) with the normal Karma which we perform and this includes even the
Nishkaama Karma where there is no Shravanam, Kirtanam etc....

As Srila Rupa Gosvami says:

Anyaabhilashita Shuunyam, Jnyana Karmaadi Anavrtam,
Anukuulyena Krishnaanushiilanam, Bhaktir Uttama.

Note the point - Jnyana Karmaadi Anavrtam - It should'nt have a tinge of Jnyana
or Karma and other things associated with it. That is REAL Supreme Bhakti.

Here Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's philosophy of AchintyaBhedaAbheda Tattva can be
applied: And that is Bhakti is a kind of Karma, but it is not Karma. Similar to
Jiva is similar to Krishna (in quality), but not Krishna.

I think you will agree with this.

The joke is good. But we are not fighting here. Is'nt it? We are just trying to
clarify our doubts :-)

Work is going ok. How about you? Convey my regards to Prashant and Lakshman as

Thanks for your prompt responses :-)


Hare Krishna.

Guest_Som - Wed, 18 Jun 2003 21:36:20 +0530
Hare Krishna Patita Pavana Vaishnavas!

Waiting for some inputs from the learned Vaishnavas here....

Hari Hari.

adiyen - Thu, 19 Jun 2003 16:32:57 +0530
Dear Someshji,
Adiyen is far from learned and only an aspiring Vaishnava, but thinks that your response to Sri Vaishnavaji, quoting Sri Rupa Gosvami, is excellent.

I know that Sri Vaishnavas divide Bhakti into two:
1/ Bhakti Yoga (which they regard as very difficult fixed meditation as described in Geeta)
2/ Prapatti or Prapanna, corresponding to Atma-nivedanam. That is, full immediate surrender to the Lord, beginning with pranams and prostrations. This is said to be easier and more desireable in this age.

When your friend refers to 'Bhakti' he may mean in the first sense. It may be that there will not be agreement on terms across the differing sampradaya, so it will be difficult to discuss. Loosely our raganuga marga may correspond to Prapanna, while vaidhi marga may correspond to the first category, but not quite.

Why not get your friend to explain the wonderful poetry of Nammalvar, the great Sri Vaishnava saint who wrote of his intense love for Sri Krishna? If he knows Tamil he can translate the poems for you.
Guest_Som - Fri, 20 Jun 2003 21:00:29 +0530
Hare Krishna Adiyen Prabhuji.

Thanks very much for your answer. When I met him he was speaking about Prapatti to me.

He was informing me of the 12 Alwars as well who are Nitya Suris and who have sang the glories of the 108 Dhaams of Sri Vishnu.

I'll ask him regarding Nammalvar's wonderful poetry.

Thanks once again for the kind response.

Jai Radhe Shyaam!