The relation of yoga to rasika bhakti

Yoga takes one only as far as kaivalya, which is the perfection of the singular, going "solo." All other yoga systems, including bhakti, also pass through kaivalya, in the sense that they are the establishment, as far as is possible, of the self in the self, without which relationship is meaningless.

But in the relishing of bhakti-rasa, it is indeed only a stage: both the work of vidhi-bhakti and yoga are elements of the pravartaka stage or preliminary stage of practice in rasika-bhakti.

This is because in yoga, the culture of love is restricted to the yamas and niyamas and some other general internalizing processes, whereas in bhakti, love is the culmination, both the means and the end. In other words, in yoga, love is one of the means, and a subordinate one at that, but in bhakti, love is the one and only all consuming goal.

Nevertheless, the gains of yoga, both as a psychological force (as expounded on in the Yoga-sutra) and as a psycho-physical force (from the hatha-yoga practices of the siddhas) should be internalized by everyone, including the bhakti-yogi. They should be as natural as eating or sleeping or breathing, not a distraction but a natural way of being.Ignore warning

So in the sadhaka or madhyama stage, in which one starts to cultivate the Dual, the madhura I-Thou relationship, and starts to progress in bhava and rati, these things should be as second nature. Of course they never quite are, but one is never held back from proceeding to the second class for not having a full 100% grade in the first. Even so, the better prepared one is, the better one makes progress in the higher levels, and the further one goes. Moreover, not having adapted them ultimately accumulates, like faulty foundation work in a building, and are sure to hamper one's progress at some point.

In terms of bhakti, I mean a preparation through hearing and chanting that transforms the symbolic vocabulary of the psyche, reconfigures the archetypal universe around the constellation of Radha-Krishna and the sakhis in Vrindavan. But the point of this article is that the fundamental external achievements of yoga, such as the ability to sit still and meditate, to concentrate, to have good physical health, are also highly salutary and helpful. In other words, they are aspects of physical and mental purification that are favorable to the execution of devotional service, especially as conceived in the sadhaka stage of rasika bhakti.

When a devotee sadhaka has internalized the gains of yoga, they do not occupy more space psychically than they need to and simply become assets or tools for going on to tasting rasa.


Anonymous said…
On reading your excellent blog posting "The relation of yoga to rasika bhakti" this morning, relative to the "psycho-physical force" and the stages of Yoga, readers may wish to become also acquainted with James Mallinson's recently released translation of the Dattātreyayogaśāstra.


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