Bhakti etc.

Harry Spier harryspier at HOTMAIL.COM
Tue Apr 13 23:51:08 UTC 1999

Prof. Yarroslav was looking for etymologies of the word "bhakti" and
I came across these notes on the etymology by the late Dr. J. A. B.
van Buitenen in "The Bhagavadgita in the Mahabharata" from the
University of Chicago press 1981, ISBN 0-226-84660-1 or
ISBN 0-226-84662-8 paperback. page 24. (I am paraphrasing because I'm
not sure about the copyright issues involved in directly quoting from
copyrighted works.  Perhaps someone could clarify what the issues are
in making direct quotes to the Indology list).

Prof. van Buitenen brings up the following points.
1) bhakti is an action noun derived from the root "bhaj".
2) the meaning of sharing is central to this root.
3) meanings developed in two directions.
   a)  offering someone else a share in something.
   b)  accepting or adopting something as one's allotted share.
4) meaning 3b above evolving into "declaring for", "choosing for".
5) This last meaning governing later uses of the word "bhakti".
6) the word bhakti not confined to religious usage.
7) occurs in non religious contexts in the Mahabharata and as late
   as vizAkhadatta's play mudrArAkSa.
8) The basic connotation is that of loyalty (opp. of disaffection)
9) The same root used to for a man and a woman choosing each other
10) The notion of a loyal choice persisting in the above.

Harry Spier

Get Free Email and Do More On The Web. Visit

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list