Three Types of Devotional Seekers and the Divine Relations They Obtain

In the Bhagavad Gita, Sri Krishna acknowledges that in whatever way a seeker approaches the Divine, he is met by a response. There is no door too small, and no motive too egoistic. The operative factor is the turning of the consciousness, in some way, for whatever ostensible purpose, to the Divine, and thereby to create an interchange and a relationship. Through that relationship the energy flows and over time, this brings about growth and transformative changes for the seeker.

The Gita also describes four broad classes of seekers, based on the initial motive by which they turn to the Divine. Sri Aurobindo describes the first three of these as follows: “The relations which arise out of this attitude towards the Divine, are that of the divine Father and the Mother with the child and that of the divine Friend. To the Divine as these things the human soul comes for help, for protection, for guidance, for fruition,–or if knowledge be the aim, to the Guide, Teacher, Giver of light, for the Divine is the Sun of knowledge,–or it comes in pain and suffering for relief and solace and deliverance, it may be deliverance either from the suffering itself or from all world-existence which is the habitat of the suffering or from all its inner and real causes. (These are three of the four classes of devotees which are recognised by the Gita…, the distressed, the seeker of personal objects and the seeker of God-knowledge.)”

Each of these has a different intensity of relation between the seeker and the Divine. “For the relation of fatherhood is always less close, intense, passionate, intimate, and therefore it is less resorted to in the Yoga which seeks for the closest union. That of the divine friend is a thing sweeter and more intimate, admits of an equality and intimacy even in inequality and the beginning of mutual self-giving; at its closest when all idea of other giving and taking disappears, when this relation becomes motiveless except for the one all-sufficing motive of love, it turns into the free and happy relation of the playmate in the Lila of existence. But closer and more intimate still is the relation of the Mother and the child, and that therefore plays a very large part wherever the religious impulse is most richly fervent and springs most warmly from the heart of man. The soul goes to the Mother-Soul in all its desires and troubles, and the Divine Mother wishes that it should be so, so that she may pour out her heart of love. It turns to her too because of the self-existent nature of this love and because that points us to the home towards which we turn from our wanderings in the world and to the bosom in which we find our rest.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Three: The Yoga of Divine Love, Chapter 3, The Godward Emotions, pp. 543-544