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Devotion Without Intellect Is Nothing But Idiotic Misadventure

Writing article as an analytical thinker and as an enthusiast about philosophy and psychology who always crave more understanding

Truth Behind Idea Of Devotion

On another side of the story, some people downplay devotion deeming it as a process -enjoyed by only non-intellectual sentimentalists.

Yes, it is true, devotion is a feeling that is accessible even to non-intellectuals. But it is also true that Devotion is well relished by the topmost intellectuals. All of the writings of the Bhakti movement- philosophers/saints from the Indian subcontinent testify this version of Devotion too. Intellectually uninformed people often seek emotional stimulation in petty things such as video games or even injurious things such as sadism or masochism. More intelligent people seek stimulation in higher things such as literature and music. But the most intelligent people realize that emotional fulfilment can be lasting only in relation to eternal objectivity. For example, In Ramkrishna mission - Krishna is that eternal object, so devotion to him is the culmination for intellectual illumination.

In larger sense, Devotion is deep feeling of gratitude, love and awe and is a source of strength and confidence. When a devotee realizes that devotion is an expression of our own true nature, then it helps in understanding his own emotions and relationships of him with emotions. If we remain true to that which is deepest, it is similar to the sentient state of being. Our deeper feelings that are not so based on external circumstances, have a stability and truth that is timeless. The essence of who we are is not conditioned by time or space or other people. Devotion for a disciple helps to put back in touch with deeper levels of themselves and helps devotees to deepen their feeling of love for himself and for others.

Intellect Versus Devotion

Cambridge dictionary defines the word intellect as "the ability to understand and to think in an intelligent way". Intelligence is the mental quality that empowers one to learn from experience, adapt to new situations, understand abstract concepts and use knowledge to manipulate circumstances as per one's own needs.

Devotion is defined in the same as "loyalty and love or cares for someone or something".

So, if Intellect is penetration & probing into the reality of life and universe then Devotion by no way is the inclusion of them because to include anything one has to seclude, separate everything at first and then only, one can firmly assimilate it into oneness & this can be done only by penetrating and probing into subject and matter as deep as possible.

Jaggi Vasudev or Sadguru in his article on Bhakti yoga, has very beautifully described the paradigm of devotion and intellect, in his article Jaggi Vasudev is claiming that -"Devotion is another dimension of intelligence. Intellect wants to conquer the truth; devotion just embraces the truth. Devotion cannot decipher but devotion can experience. Intellect can decipher but can never experience."1

Ramkrishna Paramhansa

Most Famous Devotee of Goddess Kali-Swami Ramkrishna ParamHanasa

Most Famous Devotee of Goddess Kali-Swami Ramkrishna ParamHanasa

Devotion is Useless Without Intellect !

Devotion may be defined as an exclusive process where unnecessary intellect is kept aside. Devotion may be defined as non-useful "faith" reared through the un-intellectual thought process. This may lead to such practices which are illogical & resulting in facing serious issues among devotees. Reason is -maximum time Devotees due to lack of intellect are used to start hallucinating or start creating their own universe of fantasy.

For example -Ramkrishna Paramhansa (spiritual Teacher of Swami Vivekananda's) was punished by Totapuri Maharaj (another contemporary ascetic). The issue was Ramkrishna Paramhansa was used to loiter with his undue 24x7 entanglement with Goddess-Kali under blissful ecstasy, forgetting the reality and the truth. It is said that Totapuri Maharaj poked the broken piece of glass into the forehead or Paramhansa to disturb the overstimulated and uncontrolled spiritual practices of Ramakrishna Paramhansa. (On the forehead there is "Anahat Chakra" and Totapuri Maharaj done so to stop Ramkrishna Paramhansa from running blind devotion of Goddess Kali).

Totapuri Maharaj first tried to reason with Ramakrishna. He makes Paramhansa understand that his Kali is doing only those things that he is expecting. Which itself proves that his Kali is his own creation and not any true goddess. But Ramakrishna Paramhansa was adamant to listen. So finally, Totapuri Maharaj stabbed the forehead of Ramakrishna Paramhansa with a broken glass piece to calm down the un-intellectual process of keep enjoying blissful state by Ramkrishna Paramhansa. This shows that undue blind devotion is useless and must be judged well by applying one's intellect.


Religious Dilemma For Devotion against Intellect

Even after Nirvana Gautam buddha didn't leave his body. He lived his normal life with peace and tranquility. He propounded the value of intellectualism and thoughtful devotion. This is called "witnessing awareness" in the spiritual world.

Even though, Hindu belief system is seen giving more importance to devotion. But the same Hindu belief system is also teaching that intellect and devotion are alternate layers of onion layers.

Hence it is not surprising to see that, either following blind devotion or keep following blind intellect, disciples of the Hindu belief system may be seen getting stagnant in their spiritual journey. In the same way, due to blind devotion western Abrahamic religion failed at identifying Christ consciousness. Eastern religions also failed at witnessing MOKASH, /NIRVANA due to the same reasons.

Every disciple of every religion must remember that science and spirituality go hand in hand, if one fails to cope with the other then the practitioner can't go further in any direction in his religious or spiritual journey. The same is true for intellectualism also.

Intellect & Devotion Complete Each Other

Finally, let it be Atheist or Theist everyone knows the ultimate truth of life, religion and the existence of God as per one's idea and belief system. When the question arises about the authenticity of those truths beyond doubt, then that can be proven only with "experience in persona". Which one can get through devotion (honest following of religious practices by Theist & honest fellowship for own ideas by Atheist). But to witness the empirical value of one's belief system or ideas, that person needs to possess a well-developed intellect too.

Otherwise, there will be no more difference left between "insane and religious person" in case of Theist and "Maniacal and Self-righteous" in case of Atheist. Because both are in one or another way living with delusion. And both are lacking any true experience or facts in their hands to prove or disprove theirs or other's claims.

Eastern Devotion Has Deep Intellectualism In Its Root

True Devotion Need Deep Seated Intellectuality At Its Core


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Conclusion :

So finally speaking, "Intellect" is not just penetration & probing but it is a measuring parameter for "Devotion". It acts as a contemporary instrument to ascertain every deepest realm of Devotion. Let there be Atheist or Theist, both need -Intellect and Devotion as like their right and left arms, working in very good condition & in right direction to seek what is "Truth" and what is "False", to progress spiritually.

The Gita (09.02) explains this experience-delivering potency of Devotion and Knowledge (intellect). In fact, the same verse declares that knowledge about devotion is the king of knowledge as well as the king of secrets. It is the king of knowledge because knowledge about devotion is not merely theoretical – it is practical and transformational. 2

BhagavadGita Chapter 9 Verse 2

भगवद् गीता अध्याय 9 श्लोक 2

राजविद्या राजगुह्यं पवित्रमिदमुत्तमम्।
प्रत्यक्षावगमं धर्म्यं सुसुखं कर्तुमव्ययम्।।9.2।।

English Translation

Word Meanings Bhagavad Gita 9.2

rāja-vidyā—the king of sciences; rāja-guhyam—the most profound secret; pavitram—pure; idam—this; uttamam—highest; pratyakṣha—directly perceptible; avagamam—directly realizable; dharmyam—virtuous; su-sukham—easy; kartum—to practice; avyayam—everlasting

Meaning:- This is the Sovereign Knowledge, the Sovereign Profundity, the best sanctifier; directly realizable, righteous, very easy to practice and imperishable.





Devotion & Intellect Are Congruent to Each Other & Not Opposition For Each Other

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Dr Nilesh Jaybhaye

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