Bhakti and Jnana
by Swami Sivananda
(1) Jnana Yoga is like crossing a river by swimming. Bhakti Yoga is like crossing a river by a boat. (2) The Jnani gets knowledge by self-reliance and assertion. The Bhakta gets Darshan of God by self-surrender. (3) The Jnani asserts and expands. The Bhakta dedicates and consecrates himself to the Lord and contracts himself. Suppose there is one rupee in the body of a small circle. This rupee contracts and merges itself into the circumference. This is Bhakti. Imagine there is a two-anna piece in the centre of a circle. This coin so expands that it occupies the whole body of the circle and the circumference also. This is Jnana. (4) A Bhakta wants to eat sugar-candy. A Jnani wants to become sugar-candy itself. (5) A Bhakta is like a kitten that cries for help. A Jnani is like a baby-monkey that clings itself boldly to the mother. (6) A Bhakta gets Krama Mukti. A Jnani gets Sadyo-Mukti. (7) A Jnana Yogi exhibits Siddhis through will or Sat-Sankalpa. A Bhakta gets all the divine Aisvaryas through self-surrender and the consequent descent of Divine Grace.
In the Gita (IV-39) Lord Krishna clearly points out that Bhakti and Jnana are not incompatibles like oil and water. He says: "Sraddhavan labhate jnanam-The man who is full of faith obtaineth wisdom. "
"Tesham satatayuktanam bhajatam preetipurvakam; Dadami buddhiyogam tam yena mamupayanti te-To these ever harmonious, worshipping in love, I give the Yoga of discrimination by which they come unto Me. " (X-10. )
"Bhaktya maamabhijanati yavanyaschasmi tattvatah; Tato mam tattvato jnatva visate tadanantaram-By devotion he knoweth Me in essence, who and what I am; having thus known Me in essence, he forthwith entereth into the Supreme. " (XVIII-55. )
To deny Jnana altogether, to say that there is nothing beyond Goloka as some sectarian Bhaktas do, is the height of one's folly. To deny Bhakti and Isvara as some dry Vedantins do is also foolishness. A happy combination of head and heart is perfection.