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Mutual Dependence of Bhakti and Jnana

by Swami Sivananda

We are often confronted with the puzzling question: "Are Jnana and Bhakti conflicting with each other?" My answer is emphatically "No. " There is in fact, an inter-relationship between these two, the one supplementing the other. Bhakti is not at all antagonistic to Jnana. There is undoubtedly a mutual dependence between the two. Both lead to the same destination.

Bhakti Yoga and Jnana Yoga are not incompatibles like acid and alkali. One can combine Ananya Bhakti (one-pointed devotion) with Jnana Yoga. The fruit of Bhakti Yoga is Jnana. Highest Love (Para Bhakti) and Jnana are one. Perfect knowledge is love. Perfect love is knowledge. Sri Sankara, the Advaita Kevala Jnani, was a great Bhakta of Lord Hari, Hara and Devi. Jnanadev of Alandi, another great Yogi-Jnani, was a Bhakta of Lord Krishna. Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa worshipped Kaali and obtained Jnana through Swami Totapuri, his Advaita Guru. Gouranga Maha Prabhu (Lord Chaitanya) of Bengal was a fine Advaita-Vedantic scholar and yet he danced in the streets singing Hari's Names. It behoves therefore that Bhakti and Jnana can be combined with much advantage.

Action, emotion and intelligence are the three horses that are linked to this body-chariot. They should work in perfect harmony or unison. Then only the chariot will run smoothly. There must be integral development. You must have the head of Sankara, the heart of Buddha and the hand of Janaka. Vedanta without devotion is quite dry. Jnana without Bhakti is not perfect. How can one, who has realised his oneness with Atman remain without serving the world which is Atman only? Devotion is not divorced from Jnana but Jnana is rather exceedingly helpful to its perfect attainment.

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