The Transformation of Religious Worship Into Pure Bhakti

All human development starts from the basis of the ordinary human nature and its basic capacities, and evolves from there over time through persistent action, attention and dedicated effort. The ego, as the foundation of the human experience, provides the initial impetus and motives for undertaking the process of worship. We seek for some satisfying result, some boon, some support in adversity, or some type of salvation, either now or hereafter.

As the process develops, however, the act of worship begins to separate itself from specific results to be achieved in a personal or egoistic sense and the worship itself becomes its own “goal”. Eventually, even this attachment to the experience of worship gives way to something that fills the being and unifies it with the object of devotion, and widens and universalizes the experience of worship. This becomes then the true nature of pure Bhakti.

Sri Aurobindo elaborates this process: “In the transformation of ordinary religious worship into the Yoga of pure Bhakti we see this development from the motived and interested worship of popular religion into a principle of motiveless and self-existent love. This last is in ac the touchstone of the real Bhakti and shows whether we are really in the central way or are only upon one of the bypaths leading to it. We have to throw away the props of our weakness, the motives of the ego, the lures of our lower nature before we can deserve the divine union.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Three: The Yoga of Divine Love, Chapter 2, The Motives of Devotion, pp. 528-529

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