Bhakti in Tarka

Usually, the word bhakti brings up images of a certain kind – devotees singing or dancing in ecstasy, having fits of tears, laughter or shrieks, or visiting sacred places. While all of these situations are indicative of bhakti, there is another kind that is rarely spoken about. This is the bhakti that is natural to tarka.*

The literal meaning of the word tarka is logic or reasoning. Quite simplistically, it is the ability to put together a series of related notions through logical deduction based on experience – our own or learned as generalizations. Depending on the type of reasoning we use and the kind of experiences we’ve had, the conclusion we arrive at may be accurate or faulty. For instance, we may know that a large percentage of forest fires are a result of human causes. This may lead us to arrive at the conclusion that every forest fire we hear about is the result of a human cause. The logic here is valid, since forest fires are indeed caused by human error in many cases, but it is not accurate, since they can also be caused by natural causes. When we arrive at a certainty in this manner, it causes us to become rigid and closed off to other possibilities. 

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