A rare booklet by Guru Nitya Chaitanya Yati, elucidating BHAKTI in a very simple manner.
The digitized booklets of BHAKTI in both Malayalam and Kannada languages are also available as online flip books in the Wisdom Library section.
This booklet in English was made available by Sri. Sujit Sivanand, which is reproduced below.
aum sahana avatu
saha veeryam karavavahai
aum santih santih santih
Our visible world is a mesh of light and shadow. Where there is no light, there is intense darkness. Where there is nothing but light, there is no trace of darkness. The seemingly contradictory principles of light and darkness can in actually form blends of various shades.
In this room now we have light. We can switch on another light of higher power, and at once the room will become even brighter. The present light has within its field some admixture of darkness. From the state of pitch darkness to that of a total radiance of white light, there are many gradations.
If all the darkness were to be removed, the world of form would cease to be visible; where only light exists, we see nothing. Similarly if every vestige of light were to be removed, then again we would see nothing. This world can be abolished for us in total darkness, and in a state of total light the world is also abolished.
When this world is abolished in total light, the experience is called "nirvana" or "moksha". These terms mean emancipation or realization. When complete darkness exists, the world has also disappeared from our experience, yet this is not considered to be release. This is not nirvana or moksha.
The reason for this is that when there is only darkness, all the potentials of things remain hidden in that darkness. We are no longer aware of what is possible. When some light exists, so again does potentiality become real for us. To abolish the experience of the world through the action of darkness is not the goal of anyone. However, to go beyond the apprehension of forms through the action of light is the Supreme Goal.
What is true of light and darkness in the visual world is true also of the world of auditory experience. There can be total silence or the highest volume of sound. And sound can be pitched in a gradation of many frequencies. The highest pitch of sound is not heard by us, nor is the feeble voice of the lowest pitch. In between these limits are the very many pitches that constitute our world of sounds.
Whether we look at the world from the angle of vision or of hearing, it has within itself a paradox. That paradox creates a situation containing opposite principles. Sound is opposed to silence. Light is opposed to darkness. These paradoxical opposites are interwoven to make our world.
When darkness and the silence of loneliness press down on our mind and heart, we feel life is heavy and negative. The opposite experience is when our mind reaches forward towards a great light, as though reaching out for the sun. There are two movements - one downward, the other upward.
In the upward movement we always go beyond what is immediately presented to us. A human sperm is a good example of this reaching forward. As it develops into a mature human being, it is always going beyond and beyond.
This "going beyond" is of great significance in spirituality. In Sanskrit it is called "param." The here and now is called "iham," and what is beyond is called "param." Going from iham (here) to param (beyond) is the whole theme of the flight of spirituality.
Plotinus spoke of this as "the flight of the alone to the Alone." When you look into the neuron cord here, you find that you are alone. And when you look into the beyond, you will find no one is there.
The highest place is again a place of aloneness. Again there is the flight of the alone to the Alone. That is the theme of spiritual aspiration. In the flight of the alone to the Alone we are going from the earth to the beyond.
In order to motivate you to go beyond, what is beyond should be fascinating; what is beyond should be absorbing; what is beyond should bring to you some awareness of the Beautiful, the Good, and the Truthful. Then, ultimately, only what is true can attract you; only what is good can affect you; and only what is beautiful can enthral you.
From where we stand now, we can see the possibility of reaching this perfection, the possibility of truth in those who are now weak, the possibility of perfecting ourselves in goodness, the possibility of being filled with beauty.
The "here" represents the possible, and the "beyond" represents the actualization or realization. A person sitting here in the possible is a potential seer. What finally manifests there is an actualized or realized seer.
In this spiritual flight a person has two aids. One is called "guru," and the other is called "bhakti." Guru means "the dispeller of darkness." Bhakti means "conjunction with light." Again we see the paradoxical aspects - darkness and light. Here they are counterparts of the same discipline.
Guru is given as the first aid because darkness is the first experience. When the darkness is dispelled, what is then experienced is bha or light. The syllable ti means "to be conjoined." Bhakti therefore means "to be conjoined with light."
Included in the meaning of bhakti is the definition "paramam premam rupa." Paramam means "the beyond, the Absolute, the Supreme." Prema means "an intense, uplifting love."
Prema should not be equated with the English word "love." Far more is implied here than that. To help in understanding, try to conceive of all the following: (1) your heart being filled with profound compassion for one who is helpless, (2) your heart being filled with a sense of such great beauty that you feel impelled to give all your reverence and devotion to it, (3) your heart being filled with a sense of such profound wonder that you stand in awe of it, and (4) your heart feeling an irresistible flow into a source or center which is immediately identified as your own nature. If all these experiences are combined into one, that is called "prema."
Rupa means "form." Bhakti, therefore, is of the form of that prema or that kind of love which is at once a yearning and an ecstasy of fulfilment; it is a search and a seeing; it is a holding on and a being held; it is a giving and receiving.
Whenever what is said here about love is negated, the experience you have is of the darkness which you seek a master to remove. God can be called Light, Truth, Wisdom, or Love. Whatever God is called, that is the principle of the guru. My reference is not to a person but to a personal need to not be an exclusive entity. It is through the person of the guru that the impersonal light of the Self comes.
So we have this idea of transporting ourselves to the beyond from our present state of a meaningless void, of a cold inertia, of being rejected and negated, a state in which the potential is frozen, a state wherein everything is obscure and hidden. All these states are identical with darkness. You want to be led to the opposite side of all this so that the potential is actualized and the search is answered. This is, in fact, the theme of bhakti.
When we look into our everyday life, we find that we are not living anything other than this darkness, and we are not seeking anything other than this light. The bhakti of which I am speaking is not a religious concept. Neither do I mean to say that the religious concept of bhakti is irrelevant. It is relevant when it is a part of life.
Take any person - take your own case. What is it you seek? What is it you want? Deep in yourself you will find the same hunger for the light of bhakti that everyone has.
When we are in a deep dreamless sleep, then there is no world before us - there is no "I" and therefore no "you," no "other." In deep sleep nothing is seen or heard; nobody is communicating anything to us; there is no transaction.
If you awake in the night, as soon as consciousness comes, an identity is established. There is a consciousness of "I am." This brings also an awareness of the world, of the people in the world, and of the hundred and one problems of relating yourself with the people in the world.
The question that comes to mind is, "What is this consciousness of 'I'?" Simultaneously, the question arises, "What is this consciousness of 'other'?"
The "I" and the "other" is a duality, and this duality brings within its range conflicts and problems in every aspect of life. There is a resistance, a very peculiar and dark resistance on the part of the "I" to admit the "other" into itself. There is a similar kind of resistance on the part of the "other" to give in and become part of the "I".
Behind all this resistance there is an equally great force trying to break it up. There is an "I" which desires to become an expanding "I" into which everything can be assimilated. The "other" also has within it a great inherent affinity, a great power of attraction capable of breaking down all the barriers and frontiers created by the ego-sense. Thus the "other" can become an acceptable part of the "I".
This great battle of life goes on all the time. It is neither controlled nor maneuvered by our own consciousness. It is being actuated by the principle of the world-order itself. Narayana Guru describes the antagonists of this war as the two opposing forces of taijasi and tamasi - the force of light and the force of darkness. The darkness tries always to separate, to conceal, and to obscure. The light tries always to unify and to make one.
When you meet a friend, or not even a friend - just the person sitting next to you - your mind suggests two opposite things. You think, "Who is this?" There is a curiosity in you to reach that person, to communicate. But at the same time the mind says, "Be careful. You don't have to relate." It says, "Look out. He can cause trouble. Bang the door. Pull down the shutter. Don't look at him. Don't look at her." This is what the darkness in us says.
But the curiosity to know and to communicate comes from an inner radiance. It says, "All right, I'll be cautious, but let me look into his face. Let me say a word to her." And when you do turn to the one beside you, when you look, the look is returned, and you are intrigued. No longer do you want to say "No." You don't want to deny what the other can offer. It is the paranoia in you that makes you say, "No, I don't want you." But the love in you which is stimulated or evoked does not side with the paranoia.
Fear is the weapon of darkness, and it tries to sustain itself with all sorts of arguments. Fear says, "The last time I met someone, he talked and sounded very good. But afterwards he turned out to be a big mess. It's sure to be like that again."
But the other force in you says, "I like this person. Everything will turn out just fine." Love says, "It is better to know the other. There can be many things hidden in him which could be fascinating, which would be helpful, which I could enjoy." The lover in you wants to establish freedom. The lover wants to assure the other of his freedom. And the lover wants to enjoy the other in freedom.
In a relationship there are alternating images of the beloved as the beloved and also of him or her as a rival. You see two faces coming in quick succession: one of someone wanting to dominate you, someone wanting to deceive you, someone who wants to sneak in and steal what is precious to you. That is one face.
The other is that a light is growing in you, light from another source, holding out the candle of its own heart. It's an invitation to enter into the home of the other.
You are like a child, curious to know what is hidden from you, what is not yet known. Now you step onto the porch of the other person's soul. You are enthralled by a new woman or a new man and by the greeting of that soul. Your own soul comes into a union with one embodied in another person. Then you know the truth that everyone is indeed "his brother's keeper."
Every person has within him a hypnotic factor which casts a spell on every other person. Here, the same principle of bhakti is operating in you, but you don't know it. You don't have to think of a Supreme God sitting somewhere in a far-off place and of one day reaching Him so that bhakti can begin. No, bhakti is operating all the time.
The very person next to you now is a symbol of the Unknown whom you are seeking. If you can see in this person the manifestations of truth, the manifestations of beauty, the manifestations of goodness - to that extent you are moving towards fulfillment. Your realization is at hand, not as a distant promise but as what is presented here and now.
So you enter into the first magic circle of the other person's soul. There are many circles around the aura of a person's soul. When you enter the first one, you are very cautious. You do not want to step on the precious carpets of his or her mind, so you take your shoes off. You don't just sit on any chair; you take the one pointed out to you by the stranger. For a time you sit in discomfort, not knowing what to look at, or what you should or should not touch.
Then the other is so pleased, so happy. He thinks, "What a gentle person I now have as a friend. He cares for me; he's so full of tenderness, so full of understanding. I should give him freedom."
More and more freedom is assured by the other person, and you feel encouraged to take that freedom. Here, there is an interplay between fear and freedom. Fear says, "No." Freedom says, "Yes, you can and still more."
Now you have the freedom to sit together, the freedom to touch, the freedom to exchange. And still you don't want to be critical; you don't want to be rude; you don't want to disapprove. So you are coaxed and encouraged to come into the next circle.
When you come into the next circle, you are no longer strangers. You are two lovers coming together to play the game of freedom. Now a special kind of honesty is required for you. Before, you might have been punished if you called a spade a spade. Now you will not be pardoned if you do not do so. You are not pardoned now if you don't take advantage of the freedom given you to correct the other.
Now there is within you a great hunger, a great thirst. You want to open yourself to the other, who has within him or her a rare insight to give full value to what is precious in yourself. You don't want to throw the pearls of your heart before swine. You pine for that wonderful person who alone will have the insight to know you completely, to know your profound depth, your sorrows, your anxieties, your agonies, and your fears. You want to be sure that nothing will be used against you. This generous, kind and loving person will handle all this for you with great care and respect.
Now you have crossed over the frontier into the third freedom. This time you are not inviting the other into your social ego. Your personal ego, as a physical entity, and your social ego are pushed aside as being irrelevant. Now you are together entering the secret chamber of your innermost life.
Words are not needed there. You don't have to convince or argue. Everything is instinctively known, intuitively understood. In that world without words there takes place the rarest communion that is possible between two hearts, between two souls. It is so very wonderful; there is no word which can express the beauty of it.
For the first time you experience the disappearance of the walls of your ego. A great transformation has come upon your consciousness. What was individual has gone. Now there prevails a sublime beauty, the wonder of great music. No longer are you with a friend; his ego has also gone. Where previously there were two egos, now in this radiance are two resonating melodies, harmonized into a symphonic poem of overwhelming love and beauty. Now all you do is listen to this beautiful orchestration of love.
I am not talking about an individual love such as one person has for another. Individuality has gone, and what exists now is a cosmic phenomenon. It is as though the heart of the world-order is revealing its secret to one born of the same heart.
When you finally come out of it with a sense of awe and wonder and with a great rapture, still the ego is diminished, and you could just as well be considered to be a sonnet or a lyric poem or a beautiful vision. Your being resonates to a quite different kind of order.
And others who are destined to talk to you, listen enthralled by the beautiful melody of your soul. They marvel at the vision of beauty they see in your eye. This is the transformation which comes through love. This love is called "prema." And prema means going beyond - going to what is beyond the frontier of your ego.
It is my wish that you should have this experience. When you get it, you will surely understand both guru and bhakti, and you will understand what prema or love is. That is the beginning and the end of your realization.
Now, what was "real" and "unreal" in the dual world of phenomena, has all become real. The real is one. Reality is seen to be oneness. No longer is there duality. There is no more phenomenality. Only That exists. And That is wonder. That is joy. That is love - in Sanskrit, "bhakti."