Will Jnana and Bhakti lead to the same Moksha? Why Sri Ramakrishna emphasized bhakti and Swami Vivekananda Jnaana and Karma?


Pranams Swamiji

Kindly accept my humble pranam.

I’m grateful to you for a detailed and practical answer to my query. The suggestions (like Japa, Prayer etc.), as prescribed here, look really helpful towards leading a life of spirituality as a beginner. I want to follow those but need some more guidance to start with.

I have one more query: in relation to the first point as mentioned the non-duality of the Jiva and Brahman, I think it’s more inclined towards the philosophy of Advaita Vedanta as prescribed by Sri Shankaracharya. I completely agree this is the path of a Jnani who wants to experience the same through Nirvikalpa Samadhi, and thus liberated from the cycle of birth and death. So, liberated Jiva is considered as Brahman Itself.

However, if someone wants to start his or her life as a Bhakta (with Bhakti Yoga), I doubt whether it would help to consider the individual Jiva as Brahman, as that would contradict the very essence of relation between worshipper and worshipped. As the philosophy taught by Sri Madhavacharya (Dwaita) or Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (Achinta Bheda Aveda) – a Jiva is separate entity than that of the Ishwar and it will never attain the non-duality. The final abode of Jiva, as Mahaprabhu suggested, is similar to Sri Radharani and thus liberated from the enormous cycle of birth and death. In this case, liberated Jiva is not same to the Ishwar.

Since both philosophies are different, do they suggest different state of Jiva after attaining final goal through respective paths of Yogas (Jnana and Bhakti)? If that is true, then how both may be equally effective?

The similar kinds of reference I got in my very little study of Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda literatures. They glorified all the yoga systems. However, while Sri Ramakrishna stressed more on Bhakti Yoga, Swami Vivekananda gave more importance to Karma & Jnana Yoga. I am not sure whether this is my misinterpretation of the literatures, and a well guided suggestion may eradicate my confusion on the same.

I guess I’m not overburdening your valuable time – and apologize if it so. Kindly advise…

With respect,



In the spiritual matters, the words of Upanishads are final and factual. The Supreme judge is Upanishad only. Without the Upanishad, nobody, whether he is a philosopher, or saint or even Incarnations can not talk anything about God, Jive, Moksha, etc. This is the unique position, our Upanishads have. All the Incarnations, philosophers, sages accepted this position.

But the problem is, in Upanishads we find place for Dvaita, Visishtadvaita and Advaita. Upanishad itself, declares that Advaita is the last word of Spiritual Journey. In order to achieve this Non-dual (Advaitic) culmination, Bhakti, Karma yoga etc are prescribed. Any attempt to make “Duality as the Final Stage” is severely condemned by the Upanishad. In Gita, you can come across all these ideas, and Bhagavan Krishna reconciles Bhakti (based on duality) and Karma as the stepping stone for the Jnana or Para-Bhakti (based on Advaitic vision).

Eternal Dualism is never accepted by the Upanishads and the Spiritual Experiences of the Sages. The beauty of our Hinduism is, that the philosophers, saints and sages have experienced and dwelt on every stage of spiritual journey, and gave out as they philosophies to the people according to the need of the society and time. Each philosopher stressed the necessity and utility of every stage, in the spiritual journey. All dualistic philosophers condemn each other, and quarrel among themselves. Only the Advaitain does not quarrel with other philosophies and tries to reconcile all the philosophies by putting it in its appropriate places, as shown in the Upanishads. All the paths are equally glorified so that, a spiritual seeker, can start his journey wherever he is comfortable. Sri Ramakrishna was an Advaitin in the garb of a devotee. Swami Vivekananda was an Advaintin in the garb of Jnana. Their language differs, but not the content, namely, purpose of life is to “Love the Lord through Wisdom of Oneness”. As long as duality exists, there is no possibility of “True Love”. Lord should become one with me, then and then only I can Love the Lord as myself. The fact is “Everyone loves himself, unconditionally and truly” (Aatmanastu kaamaaya sarvam priyam bhavati – says Brihadaranayaka Upanishad). If the Lord, who is separate from me is the source of suffering, nobody will love Him and attain him, serve him, even if, he is most beautiful, powerful and good person. Since the Lord is the source of Happiness for me that is the reason, that I love him and try to attain him. I love my happiness unconditionally, and the lord becomes the means for my happiness. Anything which is the source of sorrow, I can’t love. As long as the Lord stands different from me, he is the potential threat for my life. Since, the loving god, who is a protector, happen to be destroyer of this creation, as “Kaala tatva”. I will have fear, as long as he stands away from me.

Don’t bother about these philosophical differences. But the quarrel is about the end only. If you can’t accept any philosophy then also you are not going to loose anything. The Lord knows what is the correct philosophy, whether Advaita or Dvaita. If you like to be with him as a devotee, companion and servant, certainly He will fulfill your desire. He will certainly allow you stay as a separate personality and love him, serve him, etc. Therefore, start your journey sincerely, and surrender to Him. He will certainly bless you in whatever way you liked to be blessed. You can suspect about the philosophers but not about the Lord. When you love and reach him, he himself will show the Ultimate Truth.

Be sincere with your spiritual practices. As I wrote earlier, “Leading a clean life with the practice of moral values, Prayer, Namajapa and Satsangh are means for guidance in spiritual life. Try them and wait for the Lord’s Grace. He will certainly bless you with a Spiritual growth. Offer your mind to Him and pray Him to manifest in your mind and make your life a purposeful one and with peace”.

With prayers,

Yours in service