The world we live in today has drawn an aggressive demarcation between science and spirituality. According to this fabricated dichotomy, anyone who is scientific can only really operate in the realms of physicalism, and anyone who is spiritual can never really be objective and scientific in their approach. This notion, however, needs critical reassessment.
The bhakti teachers have meticulously established that spiritual processes to uncover higher states of consciousness are systematic, replicable, measurable and practical. Not only that, but there are clear and observable signs and symptoms which indicate the efficacy of one’s practice and act as reference points for the spiritual scientist. These practices and symptoms are not just internal and subtle, but externally visible and tangible. Interestingly, Srila Prabhupada’s masterful summary study of Bhakti-Rasamrta-Sindhu, a handbook on devotion, is subtitled ‘The Complete Science of Devotion.’
Though bhakti-yoga is scientific, it is not mechanical. The elements of grace, consciousness, subjective expression and personal individuality cannot be eliminated from the equation. Bhakti practitioners are not passionate achievers but rather humble and grateful receivers. This doesn’t jeopardise the scientific status of bhakti, but encourages us to broaden our definition. We need to appreciate that it is indeed a higher-dimensional science.
In Chapter Eleven, Krishna manifests a divine display before Arjuna by showing His Universal Form. While Krishna could be externally mistaken as your average Jo, when He exhibits the Universal Form, His Divinity and Supremacy become crystal clear. Arjuna is flabbergasted and he requests Krishna to again assume His humanlike form, which is far more lovable and relatable. God is great, but God is also sweet, and it’s this intimacy of relationship that we seek more than anything.
The incidents of this chapter serve to remind the reader that not just anyone can claim to be God. When the Lord descends He is predicted in scripture, identified by astrological calculation, verified by the great teachers, and ultimately, displays extraordinary, super-human acts. This gives us a frame work within which to scrutinise any claims of divinity that may surface. Beyond this, however, the Supreme Person reveals Himself in response to our own heartfelt practice and engagement in spiritual science.
Bhakti is a science which is not experimental but rather experiential – a higher grade science which fine tunes the consciousness so one is able to detect divinity and experience tangible reciprocation with God. Great teachers have documented a sensible process of devotional practice that culminates in divine love. Scientific, calculated spiritual practices (in Sanskrit, sadhana-bhakti) performed with enthusiasm, patience and determination, usher one towards the spiritual reality. Eventually, we are able to relate to God, just as we would relate to anyone around us. That’s the real proof that we’re all looking for.
“If You think that I am able to behold Your cosmic form, O my Lord, O master of all mystic power, then kindly show me that unlimited universal Self.” (Bhagavad-Gita 11.4)
11.54 – Only by undivided devotion can one actually find God.
11.55 – How one can transform all activities so they support one’s divine connection.