By Periyava
Translated from Tamil to English By V. Krishnaraj


சகல மதங்களுக்கும் பொதுவான பக்தி : தெய்வத்தின் குரல் (முதல் பகுதி)
Bakthi The Common Thread Of All Religions: Deivathin Kural  Part 1-25
Traditional doctrines of all religions appeared on the horizon to liberate man from the worldly affairs and elevate him. Man has problems unique to him but not to animals. The religious doctrines state, ‘If man tries, he can liberate himself from all these problems and acquire wisdom to which faunas do not have access.’ They further state in one voice and with one mind, ‘if you take refuge in the great Sakti, we can obtain release from the worldly affairs.’ Bakthi or devotion is common to all religions: Advaitam, Viśiṣṭādvaitam, Dvaitam, Saiva Siddhanta, Christianity, Islam…
Though the Buddha did not mention Bakthi, the Buddhists did not abandon Bakthi. They made the Buddha into a deity, installed huge statues for him and offered worship. Recently, many Jñāṉis stressed only Ātma Vichāram (Self enquiry). The followers accepted their spiritual doctrines and worship the Mahāṉs (Great souls) as deities. Bakthi is a natural limb of the body.
We should adopt an attitude of nondifference between Īśvara and ourselves and think we are him. You wonder about the difference between Isvara and ourselves. Isvara is omniscient great Sakthi. We are ordinary, parviscient and parvipotent Bakthās. How could the two be one? If that is so, to Bhagavan are we different? If the objects differ from Bhagavan, where did they come from? How could he have suzerainty over objects and beings originating from elsewhere? Deliberation reveals one Paramātmaṉ appears as Isvara the ocean, multitudes of living things, lake, pond, well and lastly the water in the ceremonial ladle. There may be variations in Sakthi. All are one entity in their essence. When we take it as the basis, we become That. This is Advaita Mukti.
Mere intellectual presentation serves no purpose. It must translate into experiential knowledge. It is possible only with Īśvara Kirupai (God’s grace). The elders stated that the frenetic activity must subside and disappear for good to acquire Advaitic inclination only with the grace of Sakthi with the creative fervor (ஆட்டிப்படைத்தல்).
We should be accustomed to the thought that Bhagavan is what we become, though initially there is a Bhagavan-Baktha divide. Because of it, our love for Bhagavan increases. Is it not a fact there is no entity that is more desirable and lovable than oneself?
Īśvara the benevolent God and the giver of fruits for our merits gives more fruits for our continuing Bakthi and offers grace as we get nearer to him. He will reveal himself to us on who and what he is (his identity and nature). We need not look for and research him. He will descend because of our Bakthi and reveal his nature. In Gītā, he says the same thing. ‘Bakthyā mām Āpijāṇāti yāvāṉyacchāmi’
Bhagavadgita 18:55
भक्त्या मामिभजानाित यावातयश्चािस्म तत्त्वतः ।
ततो मां तत्त्वतो ज्ञात्वा िविते तदनततरम् ॥१८- ५५॥
bhaktyā mām abhijānāti yāvān yaś cāsmi tattvataḥ tato māṁ tattvato jñātvā viśate tadanantaram 18.55
bhaktyā1 mām2 abhijānāti3 yāvān4 yaḥ5 ca6 asmi7 tattvataḥ8 tataḥ9 mām10 tattvataḥ11 jñātvā12 viśate13 tadanantaram14 18.55

bhaktyā1 = Through devotion; mām2 = to Me; abhijānāti3 = he knows; tattvataḥ8 = in truth; yāvān4 = what I am; ca6 = and; yaḥ5 = who; asmi7 = I am; tataḥ9 = then; jñātvā12 = knowing; mām10 = Me; tattvataḥ11 = in truth; viśate13 = he enters; [into Me] tadanantaram14 = after that. 18.55
8.55: Through devotion to Me, he comes to know in Truth who I am, and what My nature is. Knowing Me thus in Truth, he enters into Me after that.
Knowing Iṣvarā’s endless auspicious qualities, the devotees enjoy them. The Jñāṉi becomes one with the Nirguṇa (Attributeless) true state, the basis for the auspicious qualities. For this, the beginning is the Saguṇa (attributes-rich) state of worship.
For this Saguṇa Upāsaṉā or idol worship, our religion gave us the concept of ‘Ishṭa-devatā.’ (= Preferred deity or deity of your liking)
Other religions stop with the mention of God as one entity. Hinduism also known as Sanāthaṉa Dharmam shows that God comes in multiple forms according to the devotees’ mental inclination or predisposition, and for approaching him with loving and close devotional worship. These multiple forms are not the creation of fertile imagination. The monistic God, called Paramātma or Supreme Soul, gave Darshan of himself to multiple Mahans, who showed devotion to his chosen deity, had personal vision of her or him and carried on conversations with the deity. For the benefit of the devotees, they have devised paths to help devotees receive Darshan of his chosen deity, if they follow a worship and chant deity-specific Mantra.
Though the nature of worship may differ, Bakthi is the common denominator (attitude or deportment). Bakthi or devotion is the central theme for the worship of the many deities in Hinduism