The yoga of devotion

Sri Krishna explains the yoga of devotion to Arjuna. Devotion refers to a state of mind exclusively wedded to the lotus feet of the Lord. While worship of the unmanifest aspect (nirguna) of the Infinite is superior, it is difficult to practise for one embodied with name and form. This is why worship of the manifest aspect (saguna) is recommended.


In Kali Yuga, the path of devotion is said to be the most appropriate path to experience God. Devotion combines bhakti and jnana. Sri Ramana Maharishi once said bhakti is the mother of jnana.

As the Gita proclaims: “Those who renounce all actions unto Me, are intent upon Me, they worship Me, meditating with yoga directed to no other/Their minds absorbed in Me, I soon become their deliverer from the ocean of life and death/Settle your mind only upon Me, enter your intellect into Me. Henceforth you will live only in Me/Have no doubt upon this score/”

The Lord provides Arjuna with several options. These options apply to all seekers. He explains to Arjuna that if he finds it difficult to establish equanimity of mind, he exhorts Arjuna to realise Him through the yoga of practice by performing actions for His sake alone.

But if this is also found difficult, the Lord exhorts Arjuna to dedicate all actions to Him because such surrender can also be a route to inner fulfilment. If such a path too is found to be difficult, the Lord advises Arjuna to renounce the fruits of action and bring his mind under control.

The Lord indicates to Arjuna the steps in the spiritual journey to discover the inner Self and achieve union with Him in the heart.

The path of jnana or wisdom is higher than the path of spiritual practice. The path of meditation is higher than the path of wisdom. Finally, the path of renouncing the fruits of action is higher than meditation.

The reader may bear in mind that all these paths are directed towards eliminating the notion of “I” and “Mine” so that individual identity is merged in the Absolute.

He is a true devotee who bears no animosity toward anybody, who is amiable and compassionate; who is ever content and who is in a constant state of surrender. Such a devotee says the Lord becomes His beloved.

He is free of expectation, neither excited by the world nor the world by him, free of fear and intolerance, alike to both toward friend and foe, censure and blame, heat and cold.
His needs are looked after by the Lord Himself. Devotion is about expanding our capacity to love. It about achieving complete merger of the wave with the ocean.

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