5 Stages of Bhakti & Is Liberation Possible for Disadvantaged / Handicaps (77)


Lesson 77 points out the invaluable benefits of devotion (bhakti). Even a jivanmukta benefits from devotion. We see a true bhakta's attitude towards life. Can mentally, physically, environmentally challenged people attain moksha? And brief overview of Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishya and Shudras (universal human categorization – varna system). This concludes CH9.

Source: Bhagavad Gita, CH9 – verse 31, 32, 33, 34


  • Krishna completed topic comparing sakāma & niṣkāma-bhakti by V29.
  • From V30, he talks about glory of devotion. It’s glorious because it caters to any level of spirituality in life.
    • For example, when there is problem in family/business, and person is feeling discouraged and requires support, then one can always turn to their Higher deity.
  • Krishna said, the moment person decides to take help of the Higher, that person can be called sādhu-puruṣa, because requires humility and understanding that freewill has limitations.
    • Moment I see limitation of my freewill, I seek help from external source.
    • Meaning, wisdom is seeking help when it is required. Whereas arrogance is not seeking help when required.
  • What’s more, when consistently acknowledge the ever available infinite Īśvara, it brings certain emotional strength in the mind.
    • For example, one is less tempted to act on their desires.
    • Even Vedāntin will revert to old ways of thinking, after taking a break.
  • What happens after taking a devotional life?
    • Inner transformation/strength > increases devotion > brings more inner transformation/strength.
    • An auspicious addiction is developed, which you want.
    • In this way, samyak vyavasitaḥ; person has resolved rightly, by taking help of Īśvara.
  • What will happen to such a person by asking for help? Next verse…


Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 9 – Verse 31:

kṣipraṃ bhavati dharmātmā śaśvacchāntiṃ nigacchati |
kaunteya pratijānīhi na me bhaktaḥ praṇaśyati ||

Soon he becomes a noble soul and certainly attains lasting peace. Oh ! Arjuna, declare (To all) – my devotee never perishes.

  • What will happen to person who decided self-knowledge is the only worthwhile pursuit?
    • saḥ kṣipraṃ dharmātmā bhavati; His/her mind begins to value dharma more then artha/kāma.
      • Easy path of wealth/enjoyment is not worth the hard path of non-compromising.
      • Before/After EG:
        • Before: found an unlocked phone, and sold on eBay for money.
        • After: found a phone, called owners friend, and sent phone back to owner.
      • They grow out of artha/kāma Doesn’t mean rejects them. They are secondary, not primary.
        • EG: Insisting desert after primary meal.
      • Therefore kṣipram; one stops being ārta & arthārthi bhakta, and gradually becomes jijñāsu bhakta.
      • Meaning, dharmātma (dharmic mind) means jijñāsu bhakta; I direct most of my time/energy/effort for inner growth (according to śāstra).
  • What is a jijñāsu bhakta?
    • Mainly interested in knowing nature of Īśvara because one has concluded Īśvara is ultimate source of peace, security and happiness.
      • Realizing this, jijñāsu’s desire increases to know the Truth.
    • What happens next? Krishna says in 10.10: Eventually from somewhere, śāstra/guru
      • Just as when flowers bloom, bees come automatically. Flower needs not send out postcard invitations!
        • This is an example, when we refer to Īśvara as “All Knowledge”. Every Cause in the universe has an Effect.
          • There is an intelligent order between cause/effect relationship.
        • Similarly when person blooms into jijñāsu (sādhana catuṣṭaya adhikāri) – then Guru/śāstra automatically comes in search of the Truth seeker.
  • WHY does a guru/śāstra come looking for you?
    • What you want, wants you.
    • Inherent law throughout creation: Any genuine desire SHOULD be fulfilled. For example…
      • Where there is desire for thirst, there must be water.
      • Where there is hunger, there must be food.
      • Where there is desire for new life, there must be reproductive organs.
      • Where there is hotness, there must be coolness.
      • Where there is light for activity, there must be darkness for rest.
      • Where there is ignorance, there must be knowledge how to REMOVE ignorance.
      • Where there is desire for liberation, there must be guru/śāstra (means to freedom).
  • In this way, jijñāsu-bhakta is eventually converts to jñāni-bhakta (niṣṭhā-ātma-jñānam; firm self-knowledge).
  • After conversion to jñāni-bhakta – then what? śaśvacchāntiṃ nigacchati; One certainly attains lasting unbroken peace.
    • Peace owning to Knowledge because of which, upheavals don’t cause much agitation. Because…
      • Buddhi ascertained; pleasures/pains are saguṇa belonging to BMI. While truth of of “I” is nirguṇam.
  • Furthermore, Krishna reassures us: kaunteya pratijānīhi; Arjuna, not only take this promise from Me, but also DECLARE it to all (share it to those ready/wishing to hear).
    • What is this promise? na me bhaktaḥ praṇaśyati; You will certainly have material falls, because of prārabdha-karma. But being a devotee of the Highest, you will never have a spiritual fall.


Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 9 – Verse 32:

māṃ hi pārtha vyapāśritya ye'pi syuḥ pāpayonayaḥ |
striyo vaiśyāstathā śūdrāste'pi yānti parāṃ gatim ||

Oh! Arjuna, Even women, vaiśyāḥ, sudras, and those who are of sinful birth certainly attain the supreme goal by taking refuge in Me.


  • Krishna points out even disadvantaged people or handicaps can take to bhakti and attain liberation.
    • Disadvantaged means: Those who have intellectual, mental, physical, environmental disadvantages. EG:
      • Person is born to nāstika (non believer) parents.
      • Oprah Winfrey, born in poverty to teenage single mom. Molested and pregnant at 14. Early birth and child died.
      • In purāṇa, Prahlāda born to Hiraṇyakaśipu, an āsura with no devotion.
    • In all cases: even underprivileged people can attain supreme goal of life.
      • There is a condition: mām vyapāśritya; One stops depending entirely on oneself, and seeks guidance in form of prayer, devotion, śāstra, ācāryaḥ.
        • EG1: When have injured foot and can’t walk, instead of dragging yourself… use a walking stick or hold someone’s hand.
        • EG2: When car accident, we ASK FOR HELP from police/insurance.
  • Who are disadvantaged people? Krishna gives 4 samples:
    1. pāpa yonayaḥ: Born in non-conducive atmosphere for spirituality.


        • Prahlāda.
        • Alcoholic/drug-addict parents or relatives.
        • Environment where clean water/food is scarce, and diseases thrive (eg: certain African countries).
        • Parents are atheists or lack basic ethics. Devoid of religion.
      • Why born in such family? Past life pāpam.
    1. striyaḥ: Woman, have a certain disadvantage.
      • Firstly understand, Vedānta is primarily a pursuit of wisdom.
        • And wisdom is connected with mind and intellect. It needs sūkṣma-śarīra.
        • Wisdom has nothing to do with physical body. Because body is incapable gaining knowledge.
      • Hence when talking about qualifications, we’re not bothered about physical personality like weight, height nor male/female gender of a person.
      • What does striyaḥ refer to? It represents an emotionally dominant personality, which obstructs rational/logical thinking.
        • In other words, emotions dominate reason. Manomaya-kośa commands vijñānamaya-kośa.
          • Whereas according to śāstra, vijñānamaya should GUIDE manomaya.
          • EG: Drunk person’s reason is reduced, thus they act on emotional impulse.
        • Therefore an overly emotional personality will conflict with Vedāntic
      • What is primary disadvantage with emotional personality? Person always values personal relationships and attachment. He/she desires EXCLUSIVITY.
        • Person wants to be personality associated with someone. Love someone, be loved.
        • Whereas in Vedānta we talk about maturing OUT OF need for depending on relationships because they lead to certain dependence or bondage.
        • Whole point of Vedānta is to understand:
          • I AM THE WHOLE since there are not two here. But emotion’s motto is “I am separate and need another for sense of wholeness/completeness”.
        • Hence Vedānta requires transcending need for completeness through relationships.
          • Else mokṣa fades into a far-away goal, because most energy goes into loving and being loved.
        • Even if emotional mind renounces world, it makes guru the source of security.
          • Meaning emotional mind always seeks a PERSONAL savior from someone.
          • For example, it converts Īśvara into father, mother or child.
        • Also striyaḥ can refer to one who is strongly attached to their family.
          • EG: Mother is biologically compelled to care and be attached to her child. Most mothers make child a primary goal in life. Even when adult, mostly thinking of children.
            • Krishna responds to this: Be attached to your children, but give Me some attachment also. Because children are secondary goal.
    1. Vaiśyah: Rājasic / outgoing / extroverted personalities.
      • Profit oriented. Commercially focused.
      • Passionate people. Living life to the fullest for sake of self-satisfaction.
      • Wants to earn, acquire and accomplish.
    2. Śūdraḥ: Tāmasic dominant personalities.
      • Like to follow orders.
      • Don’t think for themselves, hence impulsive thinking.
      • Laziness, animalistic living. Lack of creativity.
      • One philosophy: Live to eat, drink and marry.
      • Stubborn “WIIFM” personality.
  • Summary: All 4 types can be transformed with patience and diligence:
    1. pāpa yonayaḥ: Born in challenging circumstances which scar the child.
    2. Striyaḥ: More emotional then rational.
    3. Vaiśyaḥ: Commercial minded.
    4. Śūdraḥ: Laborers, workers. Laziness (moves/thinks mainly for for sake of appetizing oneself only).


Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 9 – Verse 33:

kiṃ punarbrāhmaṇāḥ puṇyā bhaktā rājarṣayastathā |
anityamasukhaṃ lokamimaṃ prāpya bhajasva mām ||

Then what to talk of the virtuous brahmins and devout royal sages ! Having come to this impermanent joyless world, worship Me.


  • If śūdrās and vaiśyās can attain liberation (despite disadvantages), then what to talk of brāhmaṇās and kṣatriyās?
  • What is brāhmaṇa?
    • Sattva dominant. Spiritually oriented from birth. Deeper thinking. Contemplative.
    • No craving for artha/kāma.
    • Why is one a brāhmaṇa? Pūrva janma puṇya-karma (past life meritorious actions)
  • What is a kśatriya? A rājasic extrovert just like vaiśya.
    • Kśatriya Vaiśya:
      • Kṣatriya: Selflessly active.
        • Gives results of one’s actions AWAY for benefit of society. May take pride, but helps well-ware of environment.
          • EG: Save forest/oceans/clean up beach, anonymous charity.
        • Purifies mind quickly > Lives life of karma-yoga > quickly comes to self-knowledge > Attains liberation. EG: Arjuna.
        • Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg address (kṣatriya) VS. Donald Trumps “Let’s build a wall” (vaiśya).
        • Lives life of Karma Yoga.
      • Vaiśya: Selfishly active. Grows materially only. No spiritual growth.
        • Keeps all results of actions for himself.
        • Life of karma.
  • Krishna says: Because both (brāhmaṇa / kśatriya) are ALREADY on way to liberation, I need not talk of them.
  • Meaning, whether advantage or disadvantage, one has no valid reason for complaining. Why not?
    • Because mām bhajasva; as a human being, you are 100% CAPABLE of appreciating Īśvara in all things and beings.
      • Therefore don’t postpone your devotion/appreciation. Because anityam asukhaṃ lokam; this is a world of limitation, which produces countless challenges like:
        • Health, money, traffic, family-disputes, etc.
        • Hence it’s joys are short-lived. And often never as anticipated.
      • What is SOLUTION?
        • Start somewhere. Prayer. 1 verse read at bed time.
        • Incremental improvements, compound interest.
        • Even 1 min is enough.


Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 9 – Verse 34:

manmanā bhava madbhakto madyājī māṃ namaskuru |
māmevaiṣyasi yuktvaivamātmānaṃ matparāyaṇaḥ ||

Fix the mind on Me; (be) My devotee; (keep) Me as the Supreme goal; (be) My worshipper; surrender to Me. Fixing the mind in this manner, you will reach Me alone who am the Self.


  • Bhakta’s lifestyle is demonstrated. 5 stages a bhakta goes through:
  • STAGE 1: madbhaktaḥ bhava: Acknowledge My existence through devotion or love towards Me.
    • At beginning, one uses Īśvara as means for fulfilling worldly ends. Sakāma-bhakta. Ārta/arthārthi-bhaka.
    • Hence Bhagavān used as personal assistant for finite goals (goals are aparā-prakṛti).
      • Scholarly Note: This stage is dominant all purāṇa texts.
  • STAGE 2: Graduation to matparāyaṇaḥ; come to understand world goals have limitations. They’re incapable of giving lasting peace, security and happiness.
    • Because anything worldly is finite. How can a finite object provide infinite security?
      • That’s why people never feel 100% secure in any relationship, money in bank, social media followers, etc. Because all are finite in nature.
    • Person understands all happiness, peace, security comes from Īśvara. Therefore goal of life becomes knowing Truth.
    • SO FAR:
      • Stage 1: Īśvara is sādhanam (Means).
      • Stage 2: Īśvara is sādhyam (End).
  • STAGE 3: manmanā bhava; once Īśvara is primary goal in mind, you should NOT lose sight of the goal. Should keep in mind all the time, amidst incidental goals of earning money, marriage, children, grand children, traveling, etc.
    • Meaning in pre-occupation with world, NEVER forget “what purpose am I living for”.
      • Just like dancer never loses sight of steps, despite his spontaneity.
        • EG: Kathak dancer will never start wiggling her hips like in Salsa dancing. Because her kathak-knowledge is FIRM, despite being a former salsa dancer.
      • Therefore one requires DELIBERATE THINKING at beginning, because of old conditioned ways.
      • SUMMARY: Non-forgetfulness of goal. Bhakta undergoes consistent reminders of Īśvara’s
  • STAGE 4: madyājī bhava; convert all actions into worship of the one essential Truth which is SAME in all.
    • Utilize every moment for spiritual growth.
      • EG: Eating, acknowledge Īśvara is also in form of food.
    • SUMMARY: Worshiping Īśvara through every action. Becomes a karma-yogi.
  • STAGE 5: Mām namaskuru, if follow 4 steps, mind will naturally come to know the truth of myself and Īśvara is Brahman. We are never separate.
    • Although, don’t let this understanding bring feeling of superiority over those who don’t have this knowledge.
      • Because your freewill to gain this knowledge was NEVER possible without Īśvara’s
        • EG: Plants, air and good national economy all contributed to your success.
      • Meaning 2 factors are required for success:
        • (1) Freewill
        • (2) Īśvara’s grace in form of laws and orders which make it possible to exercise your freewill.
  • Summary of 5 Conditions:
    1. Develop devotion to Īśvara.
    2. Make Īśvara your ultimate goal in life.
    3. Don’t lose sight of Īśvara as the goal.
    4. Convert every moment into opportunity for mind purification. Holy-nize the mind.
    5. Keep acknowledging Īśvara presence, even after jñānam takes place.
  • What will happen if 5 conditions are met? Mām eva eṣyasi yuktva ivam ātmānaṃ; By committing to live a devotional life, you will certainly attain Me.


Keywords: adhikari, apara-parkriti, arta, artharthi, bramana, catustaya catushtaya, Hiranyakasipu hiranyakashipu, ishvara, jijnasu, jnani, kama, kosa kosha, ksatriya, kshatriya, moksha, nastika, nirguna, nishkama niskama, nistha atma jnanam, Prahlada, punya-karma, puranas, sadhana, sadyam, saguna, sakama, sastra, shastra, striyah, sudra shudra, vaisya vishya, vedanta, vijnanamaya


Credit for help in Bhagavad Gita teaching given to Chinmaya Int. Foundation & Swami Paramarthananda

Recorded 7 Jan, 2020


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