Towards Total Existence

Swami Satyananda Saraswati

Swamiji will you give us the definition of bhakti yoga and karma yoga?

You are asking about bhakti yoga and karma yoga just a few hours before your departure! Had you asked me this question the first day, I would have given you the shovel and asked you to clean the whole garden. Karma yoga is the medium for purifying the mind. By the practice of karma yoga, you express yourself, you expel the samskaras. Through the practice of bhakti yoga, you can bring about concentration of mind. When you pray, chant and use a mala there is better concentration. When you do your karma, you acquire samskaras, but when you practise karma yoga, you eliminate samskaras.

There are two books, which I can tell you to read. You should read the Bhagavad Gita and you will understand about karma yoga. This is the dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna. In the midst of the battlefield, Krishna instructed Arjuna about performing one’s duties without ego. When one’s personal ego is involved with the performance of duties, it acquires karma or samskara, which is responsible for birth and rebirth. If one isolates one’s ego from one’s duties and obligations, one becomes free from every type of attachment. When actions are performed without attachment, they become karma yoga. Karma yoga, in the course of time, frees the soul from past karmas.

After you have practised karma yoga, you should take to bhakti yoga. In the order of sadhana, karma yoga is the basis and foundation. After karma yoga, practise bhakti yoga to acquire one­pointedness of mind. After bhakti yoga you should practise raja yoga. After acquiring concentration through bhakti yoga you can achieve meditation in raja yoga. After raja yoga you should practise jnana yoga. In jnana yoga, you will contemplate only upon the formless, nameless atman. If your mind is oscillating, you cannot concentrate on the self. The purpose is to realize the self. In order to realize the self, the mind must be purified and concentrated. You should be able to enter into meditation and concentrate on the nature of the atman, which is pure knowledge, pure bliss and total existence.

31 December 1981, Munger