Different Kinds of Bhakti, Dharma and Karma

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Question: Could you explain the difference between āropa-siddhā bhakti and karma-miśra bhakti as defined by Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī in Bhakti Sandarbha?

Answer: Āropa-siddhā bhakti consists of activities that are not devotional in themselves but become part of devotion because of contact of bhakti. Primarily that includes offering your actions to Kṛṣṇa, karmārpaṇam. These actions themselves are not devotional but by offering them to Kṛṣṇa, they become part of bhakti.  

Karma-miśra bhakti is when you perform bhakti activities along with karma, or prescribed duties, while desiring the result of the karma. In other words, you mix the two. So you may perform agnīhotra because you are a dvija, and you also engage in bhakti.  In āropa-siddhā bhakti, there is no bhakti activity except for the offering of results.

Question: Also, what is the difference between dharma, vaidika karmas and laukika karmas?

Answer: Dharma refers to one’s prescribed duties, e.g., the dharma of a student is to study and serve the guru. Vaidika karma are of three types: nitya karma, such as agnīhotra, kāmya karma – done for a specific desire, such as putresṭi yajn͂a to get a son, and naimittika karma, those done on special occasions, such as birth of a child or death of a relative.

Laukika karma are secular activities, like taking bath etc.  

Question: As I understand, even in karma-miśra, the prescribed duties are offered to Kṛṣṇa.

Answer: Yes. But the sādhaka engages in some devotional activities also. He is not just engaged in karma alone. 

Question: Thank you. Could you still clarify this: In Karma-miśra bhakti, the word karma indicates dharma (i.e. āśrama dharma and varṇa dharma) but Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmi also defines karma in the same section as devatoddeśena dravya tyagaḥ (which seems to be dravya-yajña—a nitya karma). So how to reconcile these two definitions of karma?
Further, does it mean that gṛhasthas always have to engage in karma-miśra bhakti? They have to perform varṇa-dharma to maintain their families, but as devotees, they would like to offer those activities to the Lord.

Answer:  This is no contradiction. Karma also means dharma, and dharma according to Mīmāṁsā means doing yajña, which is devatoddeśena dravya tyagaḥ. Gṛhasthas do not have to engage in karma-miśra bhakti. If they take shelter of Kṛṣṇa, then their performance of varṇāśrama duties are done only out of social convention and not to get some gain. So they are not mixing karma with bhakti. They do not perform varṇāśrama duties out of obligation to dharma.

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