Acyuta-bhava Dasa 0:00
Hi everyone, this is Acyuta-bhava from Nightlight Astrology, and today we are talking a little bit more about bhakti yoga. A lot of you know that I weave bhakti yoga into the astrology content I make, and occasionally I do a crossover video. In these crossover videos, what I'm doing is giving you a chance to look a little bit deeper at bhakti yoga and all the bhakti yoga content that I create, which I produce on a private YouTube channel which you can access through my website. So if you want to right now you can go check it out on my website, nightlightastrology.com, click on the Bhakti tab. And if you join, it's free, you can get a whole tonne of just exclusively bhakti yoga content. Occasionally, what I try to do is create a video for people who watch my astrology content, who often contact me because they're interested in learning more about the spiritual aspects of the astrology that I talked about. And so I'll do a video to try and give people a sense of what bhakti yoga is about and some some bridge content to help you possibly make your way over to the Bhakti side of my work on my website. So that's what we're doing today.
Acyuta-bhava Dasa 1:01
And I'm very excited because Cat's with me. You guys all know Cat, she helps me aggregate your questions. I did a recent Bhakti crossover video. And we got a lot of questions back from all of you. So we're doing a little q&a today. And I'm also very happy to have two of my friends and people that I consider mentors and teachers in my life, Loka and Vidarbha. And they are here with us as longtime veterans of bhakti yoga to help us field your questions. So we got a whole crew here with us today. So thank you all for being here. Thank you, Cat. Thank you Loka and thank you Vidarbha for being here today.
Vidarbha and Loka 1:36
Thank you so much.
Acyuta-bhava Dasa 1:38
Absolutely. So, Cat, you've actually gathered a whole tonne of questions that people have, we've tried to narrow them down into some of the most basic questions that people might have when they're first hearing about bhakti yoga. So I'll let you take it away and guide us into the questions for today.
Great, looking forward to it. So yeah, thank you both for being here. I think the first question that we've had is just very simply what is bhakti? yoga? Is there a goal to this path or this faith path? How would you describe it to somebody who hasn't really heard much about it?
Vidarbha and Loka 2:13
So, um, so as we all know, the word Yoga is a Sanskrit word. And I think it's made its way into the English dictionary, and it means to connect to link up, right. And there are so many different ways of connecting our linking, that is described in the ancient but the wisdom text, some of them being that we can connect through the medium of the intelligence, which is known as jnana yoga, we can connect through the medium of our work, and that is karma yoga. And then of course, the very famous, you know, we see yoga studios and you know, using all kinds of asanas that is actually called jnana yoga. Now, bhakti yoga is bringing are integrating all of these different forms of yoga and connecting through the medium of the heart. So bhakti means love, it means gratitude. So it's literally the yoga of love and gratitude. And, you know, just by connecting through the medium of the heart, one can actually, you know, once mind is actually automatically controlled, that's kind of described as one of the goals of the yoga practice is to actually control the mind and the senses. However, the goal of bhakti is actually Bhakti itself. So the goal of love is love. And so what we're really trying to tap into is this unlimited reservoir of love within our heart, that is actually considered to be the nature of the spiritual self. And so, once we start practising this, we tap into that great reservoir, and then we can feel that love and be able to share that love with everything and everyone that is part and parcel of the supreme divine.
Okay, thank you. Yeah, I was just wondering about you two, personally, and what first attracted you to this path? Has this been lifelong? Or is it more recent?
Vidarbha and Loka 4:08
Well, we came in touch with bhakti 25 years ago, I was looking for questions to answers about what is life What is the purpose of life and deeper questions, and I was feeling an emptiness. And when I came across this part of bhakti it really satisfy a lot of different needs in me intellectual spiritual, as well as meeting people who are really high quality people who were willing to share and and willing to love and that's what really attracted me to happy satisfied like a overall need in in many different areas.
Vidarbha and Loka 4:47
Yeah, since I remember since since I was very young, I had a lot of questions about what what was life and you know, and what would bring me happiness and I remember distinctly going through different phases of my life where whatever I desired, I would find it. But then two or three months into it, I would start feeling this emptiness and like, really, this is it, you know. And so that just kind of went on. And I didn't know that what I was really looking for was this connection, you know, this love that my heart was really hankering for. So actually, both of us, we found this process, we got married, and we came to America. And that's how, you know, right here in Washington, DC area, we came across some wonderful teachers and and the books and that's how we started 25 years ago.
Vidarbha and Loka 5:37
We found a philosophy that was very coherent and consistent, and logically sound that was one of my key needs. And as well as people who are out of this world, so it kind of marriage of both the heart and the mind.
So it sounds like you're both seeking something and tried a lot of different things. But this was ultimately the path that felt most fulfilling.
Vidarbha and Loka 6:01
Yes, that's true. That is absolutely true. I mean, I could, you know, like Loka, for example, he was trying to find answers to these questions through the medium of science. And so that left him, you know, it got him to a place where, you know, you were feeling kind of empty, you know, like, what's next. And I was looking for it from a different perspective, just trying to fulfil my desires, whether it was through career or whether it was through this or that, and then just finding that nothing could really satisfy my heart. And so when we embarked on this path, it's, you know, it's an ongoing journey, but it has been very deeply satisfying for us.
Acyuta, did you want to add anything to that? Anything about your experience with it?
Acyuta-bhava Dasa 6:39
You know, um, well, I came to Bhakti through, I would say, like, being someone who was philosophically oriented, you know, astrology, falls into, I think, my experience of it anyways, that it falls a little bit into the jnana yoga territory, which is, we're learning how to use the mind, for example, to recognise the difference between spirit and matter. We're, we're learning to use we're using the mind when we study astrology to understand the science of karma, and things like that. And, but it was the heart level of practice that he said, I grew up in the Christian church and prayer and communion with the divine in the heart was really important. And although I had kind of drifted from Christianity, and philosophically found my home in ancient mysticism from both the east and the west, but was really looking to bring, incorporate the mind, body connection, yoga came into my life, physical Asana, things like that, but it still felt like something was missing that deep, deep level heart connection. And so when Bhakti came in just as Loka and Vidarbha was saying it really kind of put it all together, where there was, you know, my mind is included, the philosophy is really incredible. From all these different wisdom texts that are so important for the, for the students of bhakti, to read, like the Bhagavad Gita, and then, you know, it connects so seamlessly into astrology and these other areas, but it also makes my everyday practice of bhakti is so much in the heart. And that's where I find the the grounding, and the real happiness for everything else. And it seems to cross pollinate. It's like, the more that I I've focused on the heart through bhakti, the more that I feel, my mind is clear. And I understand the philosophy that I'm studying in these other areas of life. A lot better to have. So it's Yeah, it's really beautiful in that way.
So it sounds like I mean, so Acyuta, you came from a faith path before? And Vidarbha and Loka? I don't know if you did, but I guess one question that has come through is for people who haven't like growing up with any real form of religion at all, and are feeling drawn to bhakti, that they're learning a little bit more maybe through Acyuta's videos, but maybe they're feeling a bit overwhelmed, maybe a bit out of their depth, because this isn't something that they've, you know, they haven't grown up with any kind of faith. I'm just wondering if you have any tips, or if you come across people in that situation very much.
Vidarbha and Loka 9:20
It's interesting, I grew up in India, but actually, my parents, you know, didn't really engage in any kind of, you know, religious practice when I was growing up. So, my experience of spirituality religion was really through the Catholic school that I went to, and I was very, you know, I was very drawn to Catholicism from very early on. In fact, when I was in fourth grade, I approached the nuns and I said, Can I be just, you know, can I can I be like one of you and do it, grow up and then you can make that decision. So, you know, we all have different, you know, ways that we all come into I personally think that there is great merit when we approach it with a freshness and no prior experience, I think it allows us to, in fact, that's one of the goals of the Bhakti process is to always be in the sort of beginner's mind and like, approach it with fresh eyes, right without prior conditioning or baggage. And so, there is there could be some feelings of like, yeah, this is so much knowledge and so much information. But as long as we are open, and we take baby steps, I think those you know, those tiny baby steps and, and expect that no matter where what background we come from, like I come from India, it was as nude for me, you know, and you know, and for you to, you know, sometimes there's a lot of undoing, like yesterday in our session in our Bhagavad Gita session, one of the, you know, we were just talking about reflection, and there was one good lady and she said, what I have been learning for the last three months is how much I have to let go, you know, my, my previous learning.
Vidarbha and Loka 11:00
Yeah, for me, as well. I mean, although I grew up in a traditional Hindu family, but not getting any meaningful answers. I became like a hardcore atheist. And I for like, 7-10 years, I was like, arguing against the existence of God. And I went through that phase. And I felt that that was kind of my cleansing, I had to let go of everything I knew. And I basically, when I started in bhakti, I started from like, ground zero. And that really helped me to, like approach back the so somebody who doesn't have any background, it's, I feel that it's a good thing. Because but itself is, is very nurturing. And from very first step, it kind of includes you and and you never feel that you're, you're not included. And that's how we felt when we joined bhakti, we felt very included, right? It's very encouraging, very inspiring, so you never feel that you are you have a handicap if you don't have a background.
Yeah, thank you, it makes me think of, well, Acyuta, you teaching ancient astrology, and often you say, it can help if you don't have a pre-existing, you know, knowledge about astrology. When you get when you start, you know, studying it.
Vidarbha and Loka 12:08
There is actually a story on those lines where there was this great violin teacher. And so when a student would approach him, so a student approached him, and he said, Yeah, you have taken many lessons, and I have all these years of experience. He said, All right, you know, $200 an hour for you. And this other student came and said, Well, you know, I've never even touched a violin. He said, so like, okay, hundred dollars per hour for you. So somebody asked, like, what's the difference? He said, Well, for the first guy, I have to spend a lot of time on teaching him, you know, a lot of the stuff that he thinks he thinks he knows.
Vidarbha and Loka 12:39
And you see that, you know, like, teachings over the last 25 years, people who come with, with a very strong traditional upbringing or background, especially from India, we have to spend a lot of time kind of explaining the same concepts again, and again.
Vidarbha and Loka 12:55
There's some attachment there, right? There's some attachment to our old, you know, old conditioning.
Acyuta-bhava Dasa 13:05
Two things that I guess I have questions about one is like, how would you describe the difference between, say, just kind of Orthodox Hindu culture, and Bhakti? And and how would you describe the differences, the way that I've experienced that I'll just say this as a little qualifying remark. Just as someone who didn't grow up in India, and then going to India and kind of hearing stories from people like yourselves who grew up there, but weren't necessarily exposed to bhakti. It's a bit like, if you grow up going to Catholic church on Sundays, but it's, you go because it's a cultural thing to do. But you you may not go because your your your heart's really invested in that the actual faith that I've heard people kind of compare it to that before, but do you think that's a good comparison? How would you describe it?
Vidarbha and Loka 14:00
What do you mean, when you say orthodox like you just just talking about the cultural aspect?
Acyuta-bhava Dasa 14:04
Yeah orthodox maybe not the right word? I just mean, how would you describe the difference between say, like, you know, kind of growing up in a Hindu culture versus diving into Bhakti?
Vidarbha and Loka 14:16
Yeah, well, there's two aspects to it. One is that, um, you know, there is some similarity, you know, with different aspects, but you don't really know how they all come together. I guess there's a lot of traditional Hindu family when you're growing up, you're exposed to a lot of rituals and like different warships, which are very geared towards like, temporary immediate benefit. That's what I saw my mother and grandmother doing this puja that worship, but it was all geared towards what physical material benefit we'll get out of it. And any deeper questioning, there was no glide or explanation for that. Why are we doing this? We have been just doing it for generations. And that's what led me to. And then when you see people kind of engaging in kind of misleading you or cheating you in in different ways, then that's, that's what led me to kind of reject all of that find a satisfying answer. But there is a strand of bhakti as well as when I reflect back, I see that in traditional Hindu families, there is a strand of bhakti, but it's kind of misguided, and it's not kind of properly understood. So it gets mixed up with doing things for this yourself for giving some material benefit.
Vidarbha and Loka 15:39
Yeah, for me, like, I think there was not as much exposure. I mean, there was some exposure in terms of just the society, right, or, you know, extended family and stuff. It left some imprints on the heart, but nothing that really drew on, you know, like I was, I was drawn to deeper questions. And I was frustrated, because I would ask these questions, and then they want, you know, enough people who were even, you know, thinking or even had answers, right. So, I think it kind of laid the scene for deeper, you know, inquiry, so I would not, you know, there is this, there is merit to it, but it did not, you know, it did not really take us where we want it to go. And that's where, you know, these books, really kind of, you know, like the first time we picked up the Bhagavad Gita, we were like, Oh, my god, they're talking about the exact same questions we've been asking, you know, our entire life.
Acyuta-bhava Dasa 16:28
Just a quick follow up question that I have. In astrology, sometimes it's very similar where someone comes in for a reading and look at their chart and you see a Saturn transit or something like that. And oftentimes, the question is, well, what do I do to get the best result out of that, or, you know, maybe there's an a gemstone, or maybe there's a ritual or you know, something that I can do. And in ancient astrology, there was definitely an element of astrological practice that might have, like ayurveda or something where there might be remedial things that you're supposed to do to counteract the effects of a planet or something like that. But if we look at the roots of what ancient astrologers were saying, philosophically, many of them were saying that actually, the the planets do their thing in the material world, and all the energies of the material world are always moving along. And we're, you know, one of the core goals is not so much to try to manipulate those energies to get something because in that way, you're, you're kind of playing poker with the gods, you know. Actually, what they said was, it's important to be able to reflect and sort of separate yourself from the karma. The astrology helps you recognise, that's the karma. And that's the material energy flowing along and, who are you in relation to it your spirit soul? And so I wonder if that's a similar insight when you were talking about, because I understand that what we're trying to do in bhakti, every day is sort of go beyond our entanglement and all of the ups and downs of our circumstances, and connect in the heart to the divine, that's permeating everything. And that's how we actually find satisfaction or happiness. Is that is that an accurate way of explaining?
Vidarbha and Loka 18:26
That's beautiful the way you put it. And that's exactly right. Because growing up, you know, that was one of the things that put off, like, one of the reasons why my parents, for example, were not practising any sort of religion is because they saw this version of religiosity, right, and it was very off putting for them because they just felt like, you know, just like what you described, it felt like you're just manipulating right, doing this, this worship doing this ritual. And so when we, when we finally came, you know, and started, you know, understanding but the, what attracted us was just this mode of selfless love, right, not expecting anything and just being and being able to find that deep place of acceptance, rather than trying to fight and manipulate and, and, and trying to, you know, somehow overcome, rather a place of peace and acceptance. Yeah, that's, that's the big difference.
Vidarbha and Loka 19:25
The Hindu traditional upbringing, I found that it was very entangling into the material world, and although there were some rituals and things like that, but they didn't really help me become free from that anxiety and in peace or deeper answers, whereas the path of bhakti was right from the very onset. It helped me to recognise that yeah, this material world is is separate from my real needs and then I need to untangle disentangle myself from this.
Acyuta-bhava Dasa 19:54
I one last follow up question and I promise Cat I'll stop. My last follow up question is, you know, when I one thing that was confusing to me when I've been a lot of people who watch this channel, I think are really into the into philosophy. So, I think that this question will be really interesting to people. When I first started getting into yoga, yoga philosophy, it seems like the the Vedas themselves had a significant amount of time dedicated to, you know, worship and poojas and rituals, specifically designed to, you know, propitiate certain Gods get certain results, avoid certain results, etc. And I'm wondering, how does Bhakti contextualise the presence of that aspect of Vedic history or Vedic tradition? Because I think that for me hearing the explanation as to, you know, why that's there, why that exists, or why something like ayurveda or astrology exists at all within the context of bhakti I think is really, really interesting. Could you guys speak to that?
Vidarbha and Loka 21:01
Yeah. It's a very interesting question. And, and as we see in Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says,
Vidarbha and Loka 21:08
vedais ca sarvair aham eva vedyo / vedanta-krd veda-vid eva caham
Vidarbha and Loka 21:12
"I am the compiler, that is the knower of the Vedas and the goal of the Vedas." So Krishna has cast a very wide net when he says Vedas, because he understands that people are at different levels, especially people who, who are struggling this material world or have desires to enjoy this material world, he, the goal is to kind of tract and to under the canopy of the Vedas. That way, they can start accepting Vedas as a, as a veritable resource and start following what the Vedas and then they get personal results by propitiating, these different thoughts and things like that. And as a result, their faith develops in the Vedas. But in all the worship and rituals given in the Vedas, there's also included within it is the worship of the Supreme. So it's like a candy pill, which is like a medicine coated with some sugar, so that the child will take it. And that's how the Vedas are designed. So a person will progress from one step to the next. And the concepts of like reincarnation next life and all those are built into those kind of rituals and worship, the person already started developing their philosophy as well. And the attraction to the Supreme as a result, they're designed in such a way that the person will start developing a sense of detachment, once they go through those rituals, they're purifying as well. So they are materially rewarding at the same time, they build a person's faith, they build the person's knowledge, and they are also purifying. So the person also starts developing a sense of detachment.
Vidarbha and Loka 22:41
Actually, this has been one of the things that has always fascinated me so much. Like even in my study of ayurveda, I was so intrigued by the fact that here I was studying ayurveda. But right off, you know, as we started talking about what is disease and what is health, I saw, like, Oh my god, this is all second chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, right? So you know, just how, you know the two kind of come together that no matter what science you approach, or what field you approach, you know, how you know, this knowledge of the self, and karma, and reincarnation, all of these things are so deeply embedded. But for a person who has not gotten into that yet, they may, they may not completely understand it, but they'll get it just like you're describing, right? Just that the idea of afterlife. Even in astrology, the idea of karma is there, you know, so you start thinking, like, Oh, yeah, I'm doing all this. But then what is this, like? It takes you to the next level of inquiry. And at the same time, it does not disregard people who are not there yet, you know, so it's alright, you know, we're not there yet. You can connect at this level and still make spiritual progress.
Acyuta-bhava Dasa 23:48
Absolutely. Yeah, that's so helpful. Because I often tell people, you know, when it comes to astrology, my students, for example, I'll say that, you know, in the beginning, when you're studying astrology, there's a lot of interest in our own birth charts in what's going to happen in the future. And we pay a lot of attention to, to what the planets are doing and how it's going to impact me. But in time, even the ancient astrologers in the West, who I think had really deep philosophical connections with India and yoga as well. But they were saying, Look, what this does for you in time is it acts as a contemplative device, you're not so much concerned about the future anymore, as much as being able to see these karmic patterns playing out in life allows you to reflect upon God. It allows you to see God's hand in the unfolding of the material energies and how they're playing out. And so the astrologer might have clientele that are very invested in outcomes. And one of the ancient Greek manuscripts, it was classically called apotelesmatics, which meant the study of outcomes. So you have a clientele that might be more or less worried about their crops, or disease or their family or weddings, or whatever the case might be. and astrologers would not condemn people for having those interests. But the astrologer themselves sometimes called like a priest of the stars, or something like that, their relationship to astrology was more contemplative. They're they're looking at these as the patterns in the controlling intelligence of God. And that ends up being a way of connecting the heart and mind to God in in the sky. And that that's really, as astrology students, that's where our studies are supposed to take us in time. But then in the meantime, we don't condemn or look down upon people for using astrology as a way of understanding what the karmic weather is, like, in the meantime, that it's like the candy pellets. If we spend enough time with it, it leads us there.
Vidarbha and Loka 25:53
Yeah. And that's the beauty right of the whole thing. It takes you, it leads you on?
Acyuta-bhava Dasa 26:02
Yeah, okay. Sorry. I'm done. No, Cat. We have more questions. I know.
Thank you. Thank you. So yeah, we've been talking about like, kind of broader, more philosophical concepts here. And I'm kind of just wondering about the practical, daily steps, the lifestyle, you know, how are we building this love this bhakti, especially when we're beginning and again, we're maybe feeling overwhelmed. And what does that look like?
Vidarbha and Loka 26:26
Well, like in the beginning step, and then also the ending stuff. The most important stuff that that helped us is chanting. In our practice, we chant the mantra, the Hare Krishna mantra. And that mantra is, is the mantra of bhakti, it's the mantra of love is the mantra of service. And by chanting, that mantra really helps me to understand my relationship with God, and who I am and who God is. And every day, it really fills me up. But this inspiration that I want to do this more every single day, I want to do it. And it's very easy to do, because I don't have to prepare anything, I don't have to set up anything in my house. All I have to do is find a quiet space and the time and just just do it even for five minutes. It doesn't have to be long. Even if I do it for a few minutes, it really helps me.
Vidarbha and Loka 27:19
Yeah, the whole process of bhakti yoga can actually be summarised as the yoga of sound. And sound is very powerful, because it is described in the ancient Vedanta, that sound is the beginning, you know, and sound has a profound impact on our consciousness. In fact, it moves our consciousness. So the kind of sound that we associate with determines the quality of our consciousness. So, you know, there is an aphorism in the Vedanta, which says "liberation through sound." And so when we start associating or spending time with spiritual sound, and specifically in our tradition, we chant the Hare Krishna maha mantra. And once we start doing that, what that does, that it removes this layer of dust that is on our consciousness that prevents us from seeing who we are. And so gradually, we can actually see this, within ourselves, that our consciousness will become more clear, and there'll be greater clarity. And so it's a very simple process, there is not there is you know, it's, it's something it's very portable, one can be walking, and one can, one can be at home, one can be in whatever situation, and one can simply chant.
Vidarbha and Loka 28:31
And then the second step that I think leads us to be to go deeper in this is actually finding a community, you know, but it is all about community. It's, you know, unlike many other yoga practices, which may have a very strong core of retiring into a cave and being, you know, in complete solitude, but it is actually about coming together. And that's when we made the most progress. You know, when the party within a practitioners hard gets reflected in the other person's heart as well. So connecting, you know, making connections, but the connections like that really helps us develop this attraction for being able to chant the mantra and go deeper in our meditation practices.
Vidarbha and Loka 29:15
So like one of the simplest things that a person can do, even if they can't chant, even if they can't do anything is to just hang out with others who are interested in bhakti. And they can just do that. And then bhakti flows. You get absorbed.
Acyuta-bhava Dasa 29:32
Would you say that it's safe to say that just listening to a talk like this where people are hanging out talking about bhakti, even in a general way, is actually one of the practices of bhakti?
Vidarbha and Loka 29:44
Yes, absolutely. That's actually one of the Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita that is one of the highest practices of bhakti. And it's what I find beautiful is that even a beginner can engage in the highest practices about the just by hanging out and and just using the ears, that's all on us to do.
Vidarbha and Loka 30:01
In fact, the very, you know, there's a whole trajectory of bhakti. And the first is, of course, just a little bit of openness within the heart, right. And that's called shraddha, which means where we place our heart. And then you know, it's basically just the first item about the is hearing just coming together and just allowing ourselves to hear, you know, the sound vibration and right from there, all the other things just come about as a natural consequence of that hearing process. So hearing is actually the most important thing that gets us started. All the way from the beginning to the end. Yeah.
Okay, really helpful.
Acyuta-bhava Dasa 30:37
Even when we're chanting too, I think that one of the things that, you know, my, my gurudev, who Loka and Vidarbha know very well, Vaisesika Maharaj, he will often say that even when we're chanting, one of the things that can help you to chant is to think about hearing the mantra that you're that you're actually chanting. So when you chant the Hare Krishna maha mantra, one of the easiest ways to get the deepest benefit is to just make sure that you're really hearing yourself chant every every mantra.
Vidarbha and Loka 31:07
Yeah, that is the core practice, right? That every time the mind goes away, right, then we just bring it back to hearing the sound. And that's very simple. And Prabhupada would say that even a child can do this, right? So it's very easy.
It's very encouraging. So in terms of, you know, when we are actually practising and with with summer longest path, what kind of challenges have you encountered, and, you know, just maybe help prepare us for any challenges that we might encounter.
Vidarbha and Loka 31:44
So, in the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says that the mind can be our greatest enemy, or it can be our best friend. Right? And so we live with this mind, which is sometimes compared to a drunken monkey, sometimes it's Yoga is it's a monkey, it's a restless monkey. And I've often heard I've even heard like somebody say, call it a drunken monkey. How crazy is that? Right? So you know, that's our greatest challenge is overcoming right Krishna says that also in the Bhagavad Gita, that this material energy is very difficult to overcome. So, you know, the greatest manifestation of this energy is right here with us. And it is constantly, you know, taking us places, right, that's how, you know, we find ourselves where we are, because the mind has, you know, mind is very, very powerful. So, one of the greatest challenges that a practitioner encounters on this path of bhakti is that as soon as you start the process, you become aware that oh, I have a mind and the mind is a restless and Arjuna actually says that the mind is very restless and difficult to control. However, with practice, right with, with, with steady practice, you know, daily practice, consistent practice, that one, what one finds is that the mind gradually starts to become more and more attracted to the sound and then and then becomes pacified, and in fact, not just gets pacified, but starts to experience, a higher taste. And then it no longer is like a restless child, or a restless monkey.
Vidarbha and Loka 33:16
Yeah as you were saying, I was thinking that no matter who you are, no matter what path you're practising, you're always have to deal with the challenges of the mind, like envy and anger and an illusion and lust and all these things are part of our conditioned mind. And with bhakti you come face to face them, and not only face to face with them, but what I find is very encouraging, I find it to be very encouraging, especially when we read like the wisdom texts, like the Bhagavatam, which is filled with stories of people who started on bhakti or practising bhakti, but then they get consumed by one of these enemies of the mind. And they have a fall down in the sense that they kind of get overtaken by these enemies, and how they stand up on their feet. And then again, overcome these enemies is very, very encouraging. And that gives me a lot of encouragement that yes, there are challenges I'm going to face because I have been carrying this these enemies within me for so many lifetimes. But now is my chance to kind of be friend his enemies and transform these enemies into advantages position for me. So the obstacles in bhakti, I find they are also they become like a stepping stone to higher higher advancement and higher knowledge.
So it's not just like a linear path. It's okay to have fall downs as you say, as long as we kind of keep getting back up.
Vidarbha and Loka 34:42
Yeah, the example that is used, which I find so beautiful is seeing how a child learns how to walk right, you know, before a child can walk, you know, and I remember seeing our son who's now in college, seeing him, you know, he would pick himself up, take two steps and then find himself, you know, but he would just be himself up again and then again, and then in a few days or whatever he was walking, and then of course running. So back these little like that, that we have to expect that the mind is going to, you know, give us some resistance, you know, when we first start, but if we simply can stay with it and not give up, not get discouraged, you know, and just just continue on, then great results and great discoveries, you know wakes us.
Vidarbha and Loka 35:27
Yeah, just do the falling down or not being a perfect practitioner is already built into the process. So it is expected and then they are the measures one can take to again, come up again, and it's encouraged that it's expected that you will go through that face.
Acyuta-bhava Dasa 35:48
A few things were coming up into my mind that really have encouraged me because I'm obviously my parent. And I've got a busy astrology, practice and so forth. And, um, one thing that has been encouraging to me was, and I can't remember who I first heard say this, but it's, it's in one of the wisdom texts, I believe, maybe like the Nectar of Devotion, which is a famous Bhakti text. But it was that, and I'm going to kind of universalize this, but when you start encountering people who are singing about God dancing, about God chanting about God talking about God hanging out together, because they're interested in the philosophy of God, that that's like, such a good sign. It's like, it's kind of like saying, those are the first rays of light coming up over the horizon before the sun rises. And that, you know, we should be so encouraged that we can contextualise our difficulties or our our challenges in bhakti, alongside of the fact that the sun is rising right now, because these are the signs that the sun is rising. And if the sun is the actual appearance of God in the heart, actually coming into, you know, personal contact with God that the soul is being illuminated that the first sign of that awakening coming into our life is that we take more interest at all or that people are showing up in our lives that we're listening to these kinds of talks and having thoughts and questions and struggles included all of that. All of it is like the first little rays of light coming up. And if we can keep that in mind, then we can contextualise those challenges in, in the space of what progress we must have made already as a spirit soul to be, you know, at this at this place where this is this great. You know, this great awakening is already starting to take place. That when someone said that to me, and I don't remember where I first heard that maybe you guys can tell me, Loka and Vidarbha. But that for me was like, Oh, that feels that's so relieving. And it makes me feel so trusting that those challenges are a part of the light starting to dawn.
Vidarbha and Loka 37:58
Beautiful. Yeah, actually, Vaisesika Prabhu says it so beautifully. The first time I heard it from him, I was just so happy. He says the distance that we have to go it is much shorter than the distance that we have already come. Yeah. I loved it. So even our initial, you know, stirring of the heart and our inquiry or the initial stages of bhakti, is a very advanced level, and we can, we can feel so encouraged.
Acyuta-bhava Dasa 38:24
It could be very easy for us to be like, you know, if you're listening to this talk, it's like, you could have chosen to watch Desperate Housewives or, like you could have, you could have chosen something else, and you didn't and, like, I think that if you're struggling with something spiritually, to remember that, you know, I heard a quote, The other day, someone said, you know, like, you know, struggling to make money is hard struggling to do this. It's hard. There's all these different things that we can struggle with. And it's going to be an element of difficulty and struggling with them. Well, better to choose struggling with spiritual life.
Vidarbha and Loka 39:03
Actually, it's funny that you say that. This is me, you know, kind of giddy, you know, when I found this process, and I remember sitting with our spiritual teacher, Mukunda Goswami, and I was so new to the whole process, right? And he was sitting there, he made exactly this comment. He said, it's better to struggle with Krishna than to struggle, you know, and I was thinking, what struggle is he talking about?
So in terms of like, I mean, one struggle that I was just kind of thinking about is other people in our lives, who maybe aren't really, you know, ready for this kind of knowledge and information and the practice itself? How do we kind of, I don't know, keep this up without maybe being like, brought back by the people around us.
Vidarbha and Loka 39:56
Very nice. Yeah. Again, you know, if we have a community, you know, then it helps us. So there are two aspects to it. One is our own strength, you know, because it's hard, because, you know, everyone around us is not in that space. So how do we find our own strength to continue and for that, again, connecting in some way, you know, with some community really, really helps to give us that strength. And then the second thing is our own interaction with them, which I feel that the more mature we can be in the sense that we have to let people be in the space that they are in. And just, you know, I think people get inspired by not what we say, necessarily, but how we are getting transformed. So it's our own internal transformation, that really, really inspires people and impacts them. I've seen that in our own life, that in the beginning, there might be some tendency to want to tell everybody and see if they can also, you know, join us and that's good, but I find that family members might sometimes feel, you know, they may not share our enthusiasm, or they may not be in that same space. So I think our that's when it, you know, it's actually it helps us because as practitioners, it forces us to go deeper in our own practices, and really, you know, make the transformation by the change in our own qualities, right. It's what inspires people when they see that we're actually developing those qualities, those spiritual qualities.
Vidarbha and Loka 41:34
I guess, just being patient. Which is hard to do in the beginning, because when you're starting out, you want to your own faith is kind of weak you want to protect it by being like maybe exerting your practices or your beliefs in in a more vocal way. But I guess what we have seen over the years is being flexible, being patient with others who may not be interested in it, or who may even put a resistance, resistance to what you're doing, really understanding and being a good listener. And being patient, I think, and compassionate, yeah.
Vidarbha and Loka 42:08
Because, you know different people come from different places, and they may have their own time, just like we have, we have our own journey, they have their own journey. And I have found this very amazing for the last 25 years, my own parents, were not particularly interested. And in fact, it was hard, because, you know, you know, because of their own negative experience with religion or whatever, they were not happy that I was joining, you know, whatever, I was practising something that didn't make them comfortable. But over the years, you know, they have really, I mean, my mother herself has taken up the practices now. So it's taken some time, but you know, just by seeing a steady example.
Vidarbha and Loka 42:52
Putting yourself in their shoes, I think that is one thing that we can do is, whenever we see any resistance or whatever, putting ourselves in that person's shoes, really, lets go the steam that we might have inside, and it makes it more easy to deal with that situation.
Acyuta-bhava Dasa 43:17
My wife and I had a yoga studio for quite some time. And we even dealt with this question, people who start taking up a yoga practice often have the same question, I feel this piece I'm changing, I'm starting to value, a more relaxed environment in my life. And maybe I don't want to go out to the bars as much, or I don't want to go to the clubs, you know, people have all sorts of things in their lives that may start to, they may naturally not be as attracted to when they take up yoga, on, you know, any kind of yoga or any kind of spiritual path in general. Two things that I've I guess I've learned over time, and one is that there may be certain things that we have to let go of. But I don't think we always need to make a statement in how we let go of something, you know, so for example, there's some things that aren't in my life and some people that aren't as much in my life anymore. But there was never a moment where I said, Okay, look, I can't talk to you, or Look, I don't do this. I feel like, the nice thing about Bhakti is that it softens the heart so much that over time, those things just naturally start to fade away in terms of our, our interest. And then we don't have to take some kind of, you know, militant stance, which often then turns people off more than says, Hey, I noticed that you're and you know, you're not around anymore, doing this or that and you just say, you know, I've just been more absorbed in this. And when people hear that shift, and then it's been subtle and gentle, and there's not a feeling of rejection included with it. That's so much more inviting for people to take interest in what you're doing and how you're changing. So that's something that we always told her yoga students over time.
Acyuta-bhava Dasa 45:12
And then the second thing is that there are more difficult things that we do sometimes have to take a stand about, but we can still take them in gentle ways. For example, when I first got into bhakti, I was admittedly more of a sportsaholic. And I really liked in particular football. And although it still plays a role in my life, because I haven't been able to fully let go of it yet. And that's just the truth. So but I was playing fantasy football with some old friends of mine, really, dear people, really good, good people. But this game was consuming a lot of my headspace. And I had a really hard time letting go of it. And I had to, at one point, kind of have a sit down with myself and say, Look, yeah, I have to let this go now. And it was difficult for me to tell the guys in the group, like, I can't play this anymore, because it's taking up a lot of my time, and so forth. And so I think there's some choices that are more difficult, where you do have to kind of take a little bit more of a stand, but even then, I thought to myself, I can't take a stand in a way that, you know, that was a hard choice for me, but I couldn't take a stand that was hurtful of my friends. And then, you know, that was like, gonna be off putting to them. And then secondly, I wasn't ready to give up football entirely yet. And I think that's another important thing is that this really Bhakti really isn't a path of renunciation, it's a path of getting more and more absorbed into love and into connecting the soul to God's love. But as we do, so, there will be, you know, gradual stages of letting go of things that distract us from that. But, you know, it's not something where it's like, oh, you're going to sign up for Bhakti? Okay, good. Well, in order to be connected to God, you've got to give up 10 things right away, I found that there's so much room and accommodation in bhakti, to very gradually let the things that aren't healthy for us fall off in their own time. So that's, if I'm articulating myself very clearly, but does that make sense? Loka and Vidarbha?
Vidarbha and Loka 47:28
Yeah, I really like the way you put it, how not making a statement and, and maintaining our friendly relationships with everybody, I think that's the key is, you may not be able to relate or associate with them the same way, but not letting go of the friendly relationship.
Vidarbha and Loka 47:44
I also find that, you know, it's so true, you know, like, even friends from college, and, you know, we may not have so many things in common anymore. But when, when I, when we keep those, those friendships and those relationships alive, then I often find that, you know, the, at a different point, I found that all those relationships have actually changed. Because they, you know, they have some question, or there's something they're going through, and they really need to talk to someone, and I find that inevitably, you know, it sort of merges again.
Vidarbha and Loka 48:15
You keep the channel open, then you'll have that relationship again, with them.
Vidarbha and Loka 48:20
Just like yesterday, before yesterday, I had a friend that I knew her from preschool, and we were together and you know, we still continue like always for, you know, like, when you have kids, right, she's my best friend. And, you know, I would say she was my best friend, and we just kind of like life took us in different directions. And now she lives in New York. And, you know, just wanted to invite her because life has been tough with Corona and so many things. And so she came to the, to the programme. And so, you know, it's like, you just don't know, like, you know, just keeping that going at some level and, and not being judgmental. I think that's one of the biggest challenges of being on a spiritual path is that it's perhaps easy for us to you know, get in this whole judgmental mindset. But, you know, party is actually not about you know, judging others, you know, and, and, and having that sort of open heartedness. In fact, the very word Mahatma, which is a word that Krishna uses means to be broad minded. And this is actually one of the hallmark of a devotee is that a devotee can accommodate you know, different people with their different backgrounds and be able to still connect and share.
Vidarbha and Loka 49:29
And develop that loving relationship despite that person not practising buckling. I think we have seen our own teacher could sit with a teenager maybe he was on drugs and spent two hours having a very friendly and loving talk with them about football and sports or whatever else they're doing and not really feeling any gap between them.
Unknown Speaker 49:49
And in fact that that's a good point because and then we were told that later as this teenager was walking away, he thought maybe, I you know, I could make some changes in my life. Just you know, encouragement. And again, Vaisesika prabhu has such a beautiful way of putting everything in like, like, you know, aphorisms like sutras, he says, find the spark, right? So the whole idea that, you know, we see that every, every single person has a spark, the divine spark. And you know, as long as we respect that spark, and we try to encourage everyone, then, you know, that's, that's all.
Thank you so much. This has been so, so helpful. And I'm feeling very encouraged myself. I think we're just about out of time, but I wonder if you could share any resources that you have, or maybe where people can learn a bit more about this?
Vidarbha and Loka 50:43
There's one great book that really, we love reading is a because Science of Self Realization. It is presented in a very question and answer for q&a format.
Vidarbha and Loka 50:56
And the Bhagavad Gita is the classic right. So you know, if, and there are like, like we mentioned, there are communities that are right now, especially with the pandemic there, a lot of Zoom sessions going on. And so people can try and find something that resonates with them. We also offer sessions, weekday evenings. So there are a variety of ways that one can you know, connect. I think reading is good. Chanting is good.
Acyuta-bhava Dasa 51:31
AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada was the monk from India, who I think it was, was it at the age of 69? Yes, he came in 1965. Is that right? Yes, came in 1965, during the, you know, kind of peak of the counterculture movement, and Vietnam War and a lot of things that were happening, especially in, you know, in the United States. And he brought as, as was happening in the West, that many Yogi's of different types of yoga were kind of coming over to the west and making an appearance and he was really the first to bring bhakti. And during that time, you know, he started teaching the Bhagavad Gita, the Lower East Side of New York, and for them for a long time over a decade. And you know, he was tirelessly translating into English, the huge, you know, collection of traditional bhakti, wisdom literature, as well as writing his own books. And one of the practices of bhakti, in addition to chanting the Hare Krishna mantra, which he taught, this is going back hundreds of years in India was to distribute the the transcendental literature to other people, and oftentimes in singing and dancing parties. So you'll see if you remember, you know, the images from the 60s, of young people who were taking to yoga, singing and dancing and distributing Bhagavad Gita was, and, and blessed food and things like that. So anyway, this book, the Science of Self Realisation, is one of his books. And this was Remember, this is also for those of you who might have seen this in pop culture, too. This was the guru who had a very deep impact on the life of George Harrison from the Beatles. And so and one of the ways he got famous was also through speaking and teaching people the mantra at a Grateful Dead concert in San Francisco. So he was a really prolific writer and translator. And this is a really great starting point. But he also you can check out his translation of the Bhagavad Gita, and many others and Loka and Vidarbha host, Gita classes, and I have promoted those through my Bhakti newsletter. So I'm going to teach you in just a second how to sign up for that or show you how to sign up for that, I should say.
Acyuta-bhava Dasa 53:46
And then the other place that I would point you to is called Bhakti community. This is a website that my gurudev, who you've heard mentioned a few times Vaisesika Maharaj, it's kind of one of his projects that come through a number of his disciples and so forth. And I'm going to see if I can bring up fan the spark as well. Fanthespark.org is another website where you can learn more about Bhakti community and small groups that might be near you and things like that. So fanthe spark.org is another good place to get tuned in.
Acyuta-bhava Dasa 54:40
Now, if you go to my website, you're also going to see a Bhakti tab right here. And if you click on the bhakti tab, it'll take you to a screen that says access private bhakti talks, and you can sign up with your email address. And there's a little video giving a little overview of bhakti not nearly as good as this one from Loka and Vidarbha, but just a little overview. And there's probably right now I'd say at least 50, or 60, talks on bhakti yoga that are collected here and archived. You sign up, you get a password for free in the email, you're put on a newsletter that will give you updates when a new video is posted. This video that we're doing today will be a part of that. I just did a an interview just yesterday with a devotee named Bhojadev Prabhu. And he actually took me through a story of how he came to bhakti yoga in Hawaii when he was a kid. And then as an adult, he he actually a survivor of a terrorist attack on a sort of a temple festival gathering in India. And he survived it and talked about how that really, really transformed his life and his relationship to God and bhakti yoga in this very powerful way. So that's another just a sample of all the really cool stuff that you can find on this private Bhakti channel. And it's my hope that Loka and Vidarbha will join me, you know, maybe we can get together once a month and field some of your q&a because there's, you can always email me firstname.lastname@example.org, and just put bhakti q&a in the subject line, and then ask whatever questions you have. And I will very, you know, I'll do my best to try to answer them. But more than likely, I'll also invite you know, Loka and Vidarbha back to help me so I really look forward to hearing from you guys, so so those are some ways that you can stay in touch. And in the Bhakti newsletter, you're also going to get all of the announcements from Loka and Vidarbha's online classes that they teach and things that they're doing. So you can easily connect with them if you want to be in their classes. I've had a number of, you know, students and people who, my clients and viewers and stuff like that, who have tuned in to their Gita classes before and really, really enjoyed them. So hopefully that gives everyone a lot to choose from anything else you guys want to mention.
Vidarbha and Loka 56:59
No, this is this is wonderful. And thank you so much for thinking of us and giving us an opportunity to share and and hear these wonderful questions. Thank you Cat so much. Thank you. So wonderful meeting with you.
Acyuta-bhava Dasa 57:16
I'd also love Vidarbha but maybe sometime we can set up your your your camera and do some very basic seasonal ayurvedic cooking tips or something like that because we sometimes my wife will come on and do things with herbal medicine. And so we'd love to have you do some stuff with ayurveda as well, because that's a another specialty of Vidarbha's.
Vidarbha and Loka 57:38
Yeah, I would love that.
Acyuta-bhava Dasa 57:44
There's and I think we we can link in a newsletter we'll try to this week to your Facebook page. So if people want to tune in live to your your classes, which include Kirtan and things like that they could they could probably do that too. And then Cat I mean, Cat's gonna keep aggregating questions that come in from the YouTube channel. So Cat I'm sure would love to join us and do this and I know Cat has questions that come up that she adds to the list that are her own as well.
It's nice little bonus.
Acyuta-bhava Dasa 58:11
Yeah. Well, thank you everybody so much for watching. Thank you so much Loka and Vidarbha for for being here. And I hope that you, you all are all able to get something really good out of hearing more about bhakti yoga, and if you guys have like I said any questions, feel free to email email@example.com. And that's all we've got for today. Take it easy, everyone. Bye.