Differences between Bhakti and Kaama

Sri Gurubhyo Namaha Dakshinamurti Stotram[(007237)20-50-08]

This post is meant as a reminder to myself about some differences between the happiness gained by enjoying sense-objects and the happiness gained by meditating on Ishwara (either by thinking of His leelas, or by singing stotras on Him with Bhakti, or by meditating on His form, etc). It is meant more as an analysis of the psychological effects of Bhakti vs that of Kaama, rather than a philosophical, logically thought out argument.

Kaama is love for objects (which are not connected to Bhagavan) which when consumed by any of the senses gives us pleasure. It is well known and self-explanatory. We have something we really enjoy doing or consuming, we consume it or do it and we feel happy. This is Kaama.

Bhakti is love for Bhagavan. This love may be present due to different reasons. One possible reason (and popular, perhaps) is that the mind finds peace if it believes in the presence of a benevolent protector of oneself who is all-powerful and all-knowing and all-forgiving. This belief is strengthened by a number of experiences that one may have and the life of persons who have moral, ethical and spiritual purity (I shall not go at this moment to the depth of this debatable point).

This peace is not useless self-hypnosis because it calms the mind, and a calm mind is the source of happiness in itself (I also detail other reasons below). Bhakti may also arise due to the understanding that Ishwara is in the form of everything one loves, i.e., in and through all the underlying sense-objects of Kaama, it is only Bhagavan that exists really.

This is like recognising that chocolate is the real source of joy in all the forms of chocolate one may enjoy. The forms of chocolate are really immaterial. The joy is experienced because of the chocolate and not because of the form. Similarly the Lord is the cause of happiness and not the sense-objects because He is the real existence behind those forms.

Now the differences.

  • The first difference is that unlike the world, the happiness experienced with Bhakti does not bore the devotee, and is always found to be replenishing the mind as and when it is practised. Kaama for certain objects in general cause pain to the mind while in the pursuit of that object, and the desired objects always changes in time. the very purpose of approaching Bhagavan as the ocean of compassion and love pacifies the mind and puts it in a state of acceptance and peace, while Kaama for world-objects are found to agitate it. One tends to move from desire for one object to another, and then to another, Kaama remains unsatisfactory. While acts of Bhakti is repeatedly done by a bhakta (devotee) for experiencing the happiness, the object of Bhakti is Bhagavan and He never changes.
  • The next difference is that Bhakti is de-addiction from kaama, while kaama is itself addictive (as mentioned above). Bhakti for Bhagavan is one of the most potent things which can wean the mind from being dependent on the objects of the world for happiness. Bhakti causes kaama to subside for longer and longer periods of time, if it is practised constantly and with increasing intensity. This translates into the mind being calmer in general, and needless to say, a life of less physical and mental clutter and less consumption of resources.
  • Another advantage of Bhakti is that the meditation on a entity (Bhagavan) who is thought of as being endowed with the “kalyana gunas”, auspicious qualities, like satya (truth), karuna (compassion), etc, generates these gunas in one’s own mind. However this can only happen if one understands that the qualities described by Bhagavan are displayed by Him in His various avataras precisely to impress them upon human minds, and not because He is so great that He should not be emulated. No such benefits are to be found in the pursuit of kaama.

This is all I could think of now. The practice of such Bhakti requires satsanga to understand the nature of Bhagavan and His leelas. Without the high-order bhaktas, the saadhus, Bhagavan cannot be understood correctly nor Bhakti practised properly.






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