India is a country which is highly spiritual and highly devotional. Yes, these two terms are different and have an extensive distinction. If you haven’t ever paid any attention to the definition of these terms than let me take you through.
What sparked this blog post was a mere IG story which seemed to demean a Hindu God because there are moral police who would rather feed the satiated/cold marble statue over feeding the poor. Now, what goes wrong is that we see a statue and not the thought process involved behind the creation of the statue. Devdutt Pattnaik to some extent has helped us understand the logic behind the Hindu mythology and Gods.
Now, coming back to the topic.
I assert that I am spiritual. I have a spiritual Guru who wears ochre robes, gives sermons on spirituality and is extremely disciplined. When someone saw him on my Facebook profile, they unwittingly questioned my alliance with Aditya Yoginath, the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. The uncanny resemblance of my Guru with the UP’s CM might have sparked this conversation but then again, I could gauge the hidden sarcasm and humor behind that question. It didn’t angry me one bit. The reason, you ask? The mindset is been moulded in such a way that we tend to associate ochre with thugs. And I don’t blame these people for harbouring such notions. No. The growing number of God men and Goddessss has led to this conclusion that everyone in ochre robes is a thug. And add to that the unnecessary restrictions put by some of these on the dressing style or Western ideologies by the moral police has only strengthened the notions!
I have been currently reading Gian Kumar’s book by Hayhouse India called Spiritual Power. In this book he maintains, “Gurus in the ancient times were very much different; the purpose of teaching was to convert a student into a master. But today, the intention is to increase the number of blind followers in the hope of making more and more money. Such followers remain in their dream world, ignorant of the reakitire, and continue to sing paeans of how great their gurus are”
Having said that, is that what a spiritual person will do? No! A spiritual person will always see beyond these trivialities. They will see beyond religions and regions. A spiritual person will try seeing the soul. They will never see the clothes, they will try understanding the thought process. I am not a Yogi but I do understand what spiritual seekers see, for I am one among them.
As opposed to this is a devotional person. A devotional person is a devout, the one who will blindly believe even in the unreal. These are people are vulnerable and easily fall for the thugs who wear ochre robes, the thugs who have maligned the colour ochre. They believe in idol worship and when someone claims to be a reincarnate of their ishtadevta or favourite God (because Hindu mythology has 33 crore God, to suit everyone’s liking,) they are the one who accept sharnagathi or surrender themselves to the coop. “In such scenarios,” writes Gian Kumar,”instead of practising those spiritual methods of experience and realize the essence of their gurus’ teachings most disciples indulge in gossip (as a result of their ego consciousness) and boast about their knowledge of the subject using obscure and abstruse Sanskrit terminology.”
Some of them are so “dharmik” or devotional that they hail themselves as the moral police, they hold the flag or the baton that needs to pass on the moral values of the Indian culture from one generation to another. (These devouts, flag bearers will never abide by the rules of their religion like no drinking, no non-veg etc. but will force their views on you.) And when the generation that they wish to cultivate doesn’t go as per plans, they target them. By raiding down the pubs, by parading the young brigade in their skimpy clothes or simply by tarnishing the Days that they wish to celebrate. I would say that these moral police are goons in the guise of devotional people. Because devotional people are good fearing and won’t hit a fly, let alone parade young gen.
Gian Kumar asserts my thoughts too. He writes in the book, “Religions have their own separate forms of divinity from doctrines to dogmas, from scriptures to statuettes and from temples to testaments. Eventually, in theory, they are supposed to finally merge into the same oneness, but do not in reality. Religion, if you are not aware, becomes a very personal matter, which can arouse intense emotions, and may lead to hatred in one human being towards another.”
Gian Kumar puts it so succinctly. Now, coming to another perspective in this matter.
Yes, understood that Western ideologies isn’t India but every generation has a mind of it’s own. We are looking at, targeting rational human beings and we need to understand that these beings are capable to think for themselves! By forcing a belief on them is only going to make them repulsive towards it. If we are forced to eat vegetables we are going to learn to hate it and not the opposite! It is as simple as that.
On the other hand, a spiritual or an adhyatamik soul will reason out. I am not referring to the pseudo spiritual who seek solace in venting out their angst in high profile newspaper or tabloids columns. I refer to those who think and act spiritually. As of me, I had to pen this down because of the continuous debate I have heard and ignored for so long.
A spiritual person will think about progress of the souls. A devotional person will think of the progress of their devotion. I am not saying that those who are too much into Bhakti are wrong. No. (Bhakti dates back to the Bhakti movement which has contributed a lot to Indian literature.) That’s their way of looking at God. But what I am saying is that don’t let your devotion turn into fanaticism as Gian Kumar stresses in those lines. Getting offended by someone saying something about your God, retaliating against them makes you a fanatic. Too much of everything is bad, remember?
To come back between the distinction between these schools of thought, a devotional person will chant the name of his ishtadevta as soon as they come across an immoral act or face troubled times. Whereas a spiritual person will begin concentrating on their soul, breathing and the supreme soul to gain strength in difficult times. Though mantra meditation is a part of spirituality it is far more different from saying things repeatedly without understanding its meaning. Meditation is what a spiritual person is often practicing and a devotional person is often practicing bhakti. A devotional person might be scared of death and a spiritual person knows that death doesn’t mean the end.
There are more ways to distinguish the two. But the one who acts immorally to stop the immoral isn’t categorized as devout bhakta either, they are called fanatics. Because how can any devotion preach you to bully or fight another religion?
If you look closely you will realize how Christianity conjunts with Islam, how Sufism is seen in the preachings of Sikhism, how Hinduism used to be a part of Sikhism before Sikh was recognized as a different religion pre-independence. India is a whole if you look closely but minor distinctions have led us to fragility.
How many of you will agree to my thoughts, I don’t know. But there’s a clear difference between being spiritual and being devotional and being a religious fanatic. I hope henceforth not many will taint those who have a spiritual Guru, those who seek spiritual salvation, as a moral police.