Is Bhakti a Modification of the Mind?

Question: As you know, Madhusūdana Sarasvatī is a famous Advaitin who wrote a commentary on Bhāgavata Purāa 1.1.1 called Śrīmad-bhāgavata-prathama-śloka-vyākhyā and also a book called Bhaktirasāyana in which he characterizes Bhakti as the parama-puruṣārtha.  Many have noted that his belief in Advaita is inconsistent with his belief that Bhakti is the parama-puruṣārtha, but my question is about his definition of Bhakti as a “citta-vṛtti” in his own īkā on 1.1 of the Bhaktirasāyana.  This definition would make sense in Advaita, since the mind is given up upon attaining mokṣa, just as in Patañjali’s Yoga Sūtra the puruṣa gives up the citta in kaivalya.

But in Bhaktirasāmtasindhu (1.3.3) Rūpa Gosvāmin also defines Bhakti as a “mano-vṛtti,” and in Sārāthadarśinī (3.25.34) Viśvanātha writes: “This Bhakti has the nature of the functioning (vtti) of all the senses [including the mind?] with the Lord Bhagavat as the object; it is devoid of ritual action and non-dual knowledge, it follows after the Śāstra and it is svābhāvika, natural,” anena bhakter bhagavad-viayatva sarvendriya-vtti-rūpatva karma-jñānādi-rāhitya śāstrānusāritva svābhāvikatva coktam.

If Bhakti is a vṛtti of the citta, manas, indriyas, etc. and if the ātman is without any transformation (Bhāgavata 11.7.48), how does Bhakti for the Lord continue once the jīva has shed the citta, indriyas, etc.?  In other words, if Bhakti is in the citta, where is Bhakti once the citta is gone?

Sri Jiva Gosvami
Sri Jiva Gosvami

Answer: There is a difference between the definition of bhakti given by Madhususdana Saraswati and the one given by Gaudiya acaryas, altough they appear same. In the former case, it is only a manovrtti and hence material. In the latter case, it is antaranga sakti of Bhagavan which appears in the mind as a vritti avirbhuya manovrttau vajanti tatsvaupatam (BRS 1.3.4). It looks like a vrtti but it is not. It is like fire, making an iron object hot. Fire is not the iron object, but appears in the form of the iron object.

7 thoughts on “Is Bhakti a Modification of the Mind?”

  1. Haribol!

    I would like to ask a clarifying question.

    Would it be proper to state that there is a vrtti in the chitta for bhakti when the living entity is engaged in devotional service in the material world, but it is only there as a reflection of the true constitutional nature of the atma? That constitutional nature which stems from the internal energy of the Lord?

    Thanks so Much, Babaji!

    Hare KRSNA!

    1. Yes, when a devotee executes bhakti in the physical body there is vrtti. But it is not a reflection of atma or anything else. It is a vritti made by the mind in relation to the senses and sense objects, but the mind and sense of a devotee are pervaded by bhakti potency.

  2. Dear Babaji,

    May I humbly ask because I’m easily confused, isn’t bhakti mosha?

    With devotion

    1. Do u mean moksha ( u write ‘mosha’)?
      Bhakti is not moksha. Moksha is a state of existence called liberation and is one of the outcomes of bhakti.

  3. Dear Babaji,

    Humble apologies. Yes it was a typo and meant moksha.

    Humbly may i ask, why would i want liberation? Unless liberation entails union with Krsna/Babaji? Humbly, may i ask if a devotee is united with Krsna/Babaji is there devotion from the devotee?

    Believe i’m confused because i don’t understand why i would give up devotion for liberation. Although i would recycle in birth and death, wouldn’t it be worth it to find u?

    With devotion,

  4. A devotee does not aspire for liberation. But liberation comes as a side effect. But this liberation is not the type of liberation one gets thru yoga. This liberation brings union with Krsna. One becomes an eternal companion of Krsna and does not take birth in the material world. One continues devotion to Krsna in the abode of Krsna. Devotion never comes to an end. So there are two types of moksa – personal and impersonal. Bhakti gives personal moksa, one does not lose one’s personal relation with Krsna and guru. I hope this is clear.

Comments are closed.