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Categorizing Bhava

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Categorizing Bhava

bhava during kirtan in AgraIt’s simply not possible to draw bright lines around the subject of bhava.  Bhava has to do with the spirit.  Bright lines and categories have to do with our minds, and the mind cannot comprehend the spirit.

Yet if you go to the Wikipedia article on bhava samadhi, you will read how bhava is a mood, an emotional state, and bhava samadhi is “an advanced spiritual state.”  The article suggests that bhava is ordinary but bhava samadhi is reserved for the spiritually advanced, those on the level of Ramakrishna.

I do not know of any occasion when Shivabalayogi distinguished between bhava and bhava samadhi.  He very well may have, but in conversations I know about, the words bhava, bhava samadhi and trance were thrown about freely.

Comparisons with Ramakrishna, a prior incarnation of Shivabalayogi, can be pushed only so far.  As General Hanut wrote in his 1981 biography of Shivabalayogi, Shivabalayogi was unusual in how generously he gave the bhava experience.  Swamiji told us that Ramakrishna had power only to give bhava samadhi to a handful of his close disciples.  By comparison, Swamiji said, Swamiji can give the experience to anyone.

Girl in bhava samadhi People who have shared their own experiences consistently told me that it is different every time.  Most said it was completely outside their control.  Most told me they have no idea where they end and bhava begins.  In other words, they are in bhava to some degree all the time — no bright lines.

Many told me that although bhava manifested in the form of various gods and goddesses, they came to understand that it was all Swamiji.

The bhava experience ranges from drowsiness and tingling sensations to complete loss of control over one’s body, to initiation into samadhi and tapas, and everything in between. 

It was common knowledge in the early days that the devotees initiated into tapas by Swamiji were meditating in bhava samadhi.  Swamiji admitted that his own initiation into tapas was through bhava samadhi.

One could argue that everything Shivabalayogi did was an aspect of bhava — initiation into meditation, blessing vibhuti or prashad, visions in dreams or meditation, and the 90% that he contributes to our meditation efforts.  They are all through the presence of astral bodies.

Swamiji repeatedly cautioned against trying to figure it out or trying to control it.

“I have done tapas for twelve years.  I understand this subject.  If you want to know this subject, come to me, sit down for twelve years and do tapas.  Then you can understand, but not otherwise.”


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