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Question:

Hello Ektaji, I read somewhere “Devotion destroys all the karma”.  Could you please explain this with reference to what we have learnt so far in Ashtavakra Gita?

Answer:

Ashtavakra is the path of Gnyana [knowledge]. Devotion is the path of Bhakti. Gnyana takes one to Bhakti & Bhakti leads to the flowering of Gnyana. Let’s understand this a little more:

Bhakti leads to the flowering of Gnyana:

What is Bhakti/devotion? Devotion is a state of mind where one is completely surrendered to a Guru or God or a higher divine power. Please do not form concepts that Bhakti is singing bhajans only & then going back to drama! It is the purest state of mind so do not fool yourself or be fooled. Let’s understand the purest state of mind:

  • One not only realizes the existence of a higher power but also respects it and acknowledges it as ‘All doing’ & ‘All experiencing’.
  • He understands that ‘Everything & everyone is God/Brahman/Consciousness. Anything less than this realization is not pure Bhakti.
  • This highest knowledge leads to the understanding that – He is not the doer’. Thus Gnyana flowers. Ashtavakra says the same thing, ‘You are not the doer, you are not the experience-er, everything is happening?’
  • With the flowering of this Gnyana, the sanchita karmas that will come his way will not shake his peace and he will go through them without raagas & dveshas. This prevents him from creating any more [future] agami karma! Thus Devotion destroys all Karmas!
  • One who is truly seeped in Bhakti [love for the divine] & is 100% surrendered, self-knowledge [Gnyana] happens to him only and only his Karmas are destroyed!

Gnyana leads one to Bhakti:

What is Gnyana? Just ‘reading scriptures / listening to a knowledge talk & clapping your hands & appreciating what an Enlightened One says is not Gnyana. If you have been doing that then you are treating Gnyana like spiritual entertainment, stop fooling yourself. Let’s understand Gnyana:

  • Gnyana is applying what you listen to, actually disciplining the mind & refraining from raagas & dveshas.
  • Understand this very clearly, that raaga & dvesha are the cause of karma creation.
  • You create Karmas and again take birth to even out the exchange. Thus you are trapped in the cycle of birth & death.
  • To get out of the cycle, one must make efforts to become more aware of his own mind-body complex. When awareness increases one understands ‘I am not the body, I have a body, I am not the mind, I have a mind. I am beyond them.’
  • And with more increasing awareness, one recognizes that ‘I’ who is not the mind & body is only a witness[sakshi] to all that is happening to the body & mind – I do not do anything. Thus I am not the doer!
  • When I recognize that ‘I am not the doer & everything is happening anyways’, then all my raagas & dveshas drop away as now I understand that things don’t move on account of my raaga & dvesha but only on account of a higher power that is playing this game called Life Chess. And I am nothing but a pawn/soldier [pyada in Hindi] that is unnecessarily throwing hands up in the air & screaming ‘I don’t want to go this way, I want that way’. Nobody is really giving any attention to your raaga & dvesha [whether loud screaming or silent burning in the mind].
  • One who recognizes this & wakes up to this truth, surrenders to the divine.

One who surrenders, slowly & inevitably falls in love with the divine. Thus Gnyana leads one to Bhakti!

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