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Johannes Bronkhorst

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780824835705

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824835705.001.0001

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(p.111) Chapter 8 Devotion

Johannes Bronkhorst

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter examines devotion to God as a means to circumvent karmic retribution. The concept of God as the servant of karmic retribution was ambiguous. Some believe that God did not recompense acts because the law of karma told him to, but rather it was the other way round: the law of karma was effective because God wanted it that way. An interesting illustration of this point of view finds expression in a passage that the fourteenth-century author Sayana Madhava ascribes to the Pashupatas, philosophers who were also worshipers of the God Shiva. According to this passage, God is not bound by the rules of karma yet favors them in normal circumstances. This chapter considers bhakti, a specific form of devotion that came to play an important role in the religions of India, along with the difficulty of reconciling the acceptance of rebirth and karmic retribution with the belief that there is a supreme God.

Keywords:   devotion, God, karmic retribution, karma, Pashupatas, bhakti, rebirth

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