The Passionate Embrace of the Lover and the Beloved in Bhakti Yoga

Bhakti Yoga takes on the various forms of relationships of love and turns them towards the Divine. The most intimate and passionate of these is that of the Lover and the Beloved. The various devotional practices of religion tend to avoid this form due to the potential for it being misdirected toward outer forms in a perversion of the true and inner devotional passion that motivates it. The very power of this form elicits fear in those who follow a less intense path. In its purest form, however, this relationship brings forth the utter surrender of the soul to God, without any motives of desire or any attempt to escape from suffering; rather, the relationship and the intensity of the relationship are the goal unto themselves.

Sri Aurobindo describes it thus: “Wherever there is the desire of the soul for its utter union with God, this form of the divine yearning makes its way even into religions which seem to do without it and give it no place in their ordinary system. Here the one thing asked for is love, the one thing feared is the loss of love, the one sorrow is the sorrow of separation of love; for all other things either do not exist for the lover or come in only as incidents or as results and not as objects or conditions of love.”

All the forms of devotion or love of the Divine eventually obtain a response, and to the extent that they start from a desire for relief, or for some worldly motive, they may obtain even those things; but eventually they have to give way to the motiveless devotion. The way of the Lover goes straight to the heart of this issue and dispenses with all desire for outer satisfactions; rather it seeks love pure, constant and eternal.

“But here the beginning is love and the end is love and the whole aim is love. There is indeed the desire of possession, but even this is overcome in the fullness of the self-existent love and the final demand of the Bhakta is simply that his Bhakti may never cease nor diminish. He does not ask for heaven or for liberation from birth or for any other object, but only that his love may be eternal and absolute.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Three: The Yoga of Divine Love, Chapter 3, The Godward Emotions, pp. 544-545

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