Considering the Underlying Question of the Personality of the Divine

The basis of the Yoga of knowledge is the Impersonality of the Divine. The basis of the Yoga of devotion, however, is the Personality of the Divine. Religion, as we have seen, creates a relationship between human and the Divine; through prayer, adoration and emotional submission the human elicits a response from this Divine Personality. The Yoga of devotion also focuses on the Divine Personality and develops an intimate and personal relationship to this Divine Being. For the practitioner following the path of devotion, the divine Impersonality is only one aspect, and not the sole aspect of creation. The reality and effectivity of the Yoga of devotion depends on the reality and existence of a Divine Being capable of relation with the individual in a personal way.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “In both [religion and the Yoga of Bhakti] the human being approaches the Divine by means of his humanity, with human emotions as he would approach a fellow being, but with more intense and exalted feelings; and not only so, but the Divine also responds in a manner answering to these emotions. In that possibility of response lies the whole question; for if the Divine is impersonal, featureless and relationless, no such response is possible and all human approach to it becomes an absurdity; we must rather dehumanise, depersonalise, annual ourselves in so far as we are human beings or any kind of beings; on no other conditions and by no other means can we approach it. Love, fear, prayer, praise, worship of an Impersonality which has no relation with us or with anything in the universe and no feature that our minds can lay hold of, are obviously an irrational foolishness. On such terms religion and devotion become out of the question.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Three: The Yoga of Divine Love, Chapter 2, The Motives of Devotion, pg. 532

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