REAL Bhakti Yoga
Bhagavad-gītā As It Is 12.2
mayy āveśya mano ye māḿ, nitya-yuktā upāsate.
śraddhayā parayopetās, te me yuktatamā matāḥ.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: Those who fix their minds on My personal form and are always engaged in worshiping Me with great and transcendental faith are considered by Me to be most perfect.
There is a whole lot of logic and a very great lesson packed into this verse Let’s see what Prabhupāda has to say about it in his commentary:
“In answer to Arjuna’s question, Kṛṣṇa clearly says that he who concentrates upon His personal form and who worships Him with faith and devotion is to be considered most perfect in yoga.”
In the previous text, 12.1, Arjuna asked: “Between the personalist engaged in serving you and the impersonalist engaged in contemplating you – who is the better yogi?”
Now, in this text, 12.2, Kṛṣṇa answers: “The most perfect yogi is the one who contemplates my personal form and actively engages in serving that form.”
“For one in such Kṛṣṇa consciousness there are no material activities, because everything is done for Kṛṣṇa. A pure devotee is constantly engaged. Sometimes he chants, sometimes he hears or reads books about Kṛṣṇa, or sometimes he cooks prasādam or goes to the marketplace to purchase something for Kṛṣṇa, or sometimes he washes the temple or the dishes — whatever he does, he does not let a single moment pass without devoting his activities to Kṛṣṇa. Such action is in full samādhi.”
The point Prabhupāda makes is that the activities of the personalist yogi are not mundane activities, they are factually the culmination and fullest expression of the impersonalist’s meditation and contemplation.
To answer Arjuna’s question (“Who is better, those who worship you in a personal form, or those who meditate on your impersonal form?”) Kṛṣṇa says, “The impersonalist meditates on me fully – and that is glorious. The personalist appears to only be engaged in activities, but the truth is that they are also fully absorbed in meditation on me, and their activities are the overflowing result of their full samādhi meditation. Therefore, they are equal to and better than the impersonalists who only meditate on me.”
The impersonalist path involves meditation. The personalist path involves meditation and action. Therefore it is superior.
Impersonal yoga involves inactive meditation. Personal yoga involves active meditation. The meditations of a personalist yogi overflow into his or her life and become real actions. This is not possible for the impersonalists because the object of their meditation does not exist in a tangible form. Therefore their relationship with the object of their meditation cannot overflow into a tangible expression. Of course it has tangible side effect (renunciation, peace, non-violence, etc.) but the actual relationship between the yogi and the divine cannot take a tangible form because the conception of the divine itself is not tangible.
The personalist yogi does not carry this handicap because his or her conception of the divine is tangible.
The personalist also practices deep meditation and trance. It is a serious mistake to think one can merely go through external motions of worship and call it bhakti yoga in its true form, superior to all other yogas. True bhakti yoga involves the yogi in full meditation samādhi equally and more deep than impersonal samādhi. The difference is that the impersonalist’s meditation can never come out of a formless thought. The personalist’s meditation however, comes gushing out into the world of forms and shapes and sounds! Why? Because the object of his or her meditation has form and shape and sound! The impersonalist’s does not!
Therefore personalist yoga and samādhi is superior to impersonalist yoga and samādhi. This is the logic and opinion expressed here by Śrī Kṛṣṇa himself.
Here is an example of active meditation:
Due to extremely deep yogic concentration on the beloved Divine Personality of Godhead, a personalist yogi suddenly stands up with tears gushing from his eyes and begins to sing beautiful songs about the divine beloved, dancing madly with no self-consciousness or shyness in the world. Or she sometimes begins collecting flowers and fruits and makes wonderful plates of fruits and vases and strands of garlands for the altar and lovely neck of her beloved.
There is an important lesson in this verse for those who try to practice bhakti yoga.
In the very early stages of bhakti yoga, we perform actions of worship and those actions crack off the shells encrusted around our hearts. But to make progress past the most elementary levels of bhakti, we have to stop relying on this “outside-in” orientation. We must become people who are “inside-out.”
When affection propels an action, even a very, very miniscule action such as offering a cup of water to the deity of Kṛṣṇa will produce profound spiritual revolutions and evolutions in our consciousness. But when actions of worship lack the propulsion of inner samādhi – inner emotional relevance – it will take heaps and heaps of such activities to make any significant dent in our character.
We should strive not to let the sound of the name come only from our mouths. The sound of the holy name must emanate from the vibration of our affection for Śrī Kṛṣṇa. It should first appears in the core of our hearts – just as Kṛṣṇa appeared first in the core of Vasudeva. Then our minds will perceive the name in our emotional core and the name will transfer from our hearts to our minds – just as Kṛṣṇa moved from the core of Vasudeva to the mind of Devaki. Our mind controls our senses. Therefore from our minds the name can travel to our mouths and emanate a tangible sound… “Krish-na” “Raa-ma” “Ha-re.” – Just as Kṛṣṇa was born into the tangible world from the mind of Devaki.
Next our ears will pick up the sound and return Kṛṣṇa to their sensory destination – the mind. From there Kṛṣṇa returns to our hearts – completing the circuit and starting another loop.