The Threefold Delight of the Yoga of Devotion and Love

We have different parts of our being that find their fulfillment through different activities. The mind of knowledge, the will in action, the devotion of the heart are each aspects that are part of the complete human experience. While one part may take the lead in a particular individual, all three eventually need to find their fulfillment to be an integral and complete experience.

Just as there are three major aspects, there is a path of yoga that is based on the primary role of one or the other of these aspects. These paths are not in conflict with each other, but actually quite complementary. At any point in time, we may take up and focus on one of these, to meet the needs and tendencies of our nature, but eventually all three join together to yield the complete result.

For each of these paths, there is a form of delight that accompanies the focus. Sri Aurobindo explains this further: “The knowledge of the impersonal self brings its own Ananda; there is a joy of impersonality, a singleness of joy of the pure spirit. But an integral knowledge brings a greater triple delight. It opens the gates of the Transcendent’s bliss; it releases into the limitless delight of a universal impersonality; it discovers the rapture of all this multitudinous manifestation: for there is a joy of the Eternal in Nature. This Ananda in the Jiva, a portion here of the Divine, takes the form of an ecstasy founded in the Godhead who is his source, in his supreme self, in the Master of his existence. An entire God-love and adoration extends to a love of the world and all its forms and powers and creatures; in all the Divine is seen, is found, is adored, is served or is felt in oneness. Add to knowledge and works this crown of the eternal triune delight; admit this love, learn this worship: make it one spirit with works and knowledge. That is the apex of the perfect perfection.”

Traditionally, those who follow the austere path of the yoga of knowledge tend to treat the yoga of works or the yoga of love as lesser paths, unable to ascend to the heights of true knowledge; yet, the Gita makes it quite clear that such an austere path of knowledge is itself one-sided and incomplete, and that the true perfection comes from a shift that embraces both the silent, impersonal Brahman and the Divine in the universal manifestation, with a full participation and joy of the experience and the process.

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, Second Series, Part II, Chapter 24, The Message of the Gita, pg. 569