A Higher Taste

The Sixth Stage of Bhakti Yoga: “Taste”

Forge Mustad allumée
Image by zigazou76 via Flickr

The heart is like a goldsmith’s forge. Devotional practice is the fire of that forge. Divine love begins as raw gold-ore. I place it into the fire. For a while, it remains cool and solid, but soon the fire begins to melt the pure gold. Becomes molten it begins to gives off a lustrous, beautiful glow. Now I begin to appreciate the beauty of divine love, I begin to develop a “taste” for it.[1]

To get the gold to melt I have to apply steady and intense heat – I have to be fixed in my devotional practices. Thus the stage of Taste comes after Fixation. Sustained deep and sincere devotional practice begins to activate the ore of divine love, and I develop a taste for the beauty of it. I begin to honestly “enjoy” my devotional practices.

Here is an example to illustrate:

The saint Narada said, “When I fixed my mind steadily upon devotional practices I gained an extremely pleasant and purifying taste for them.”[2]

Previously I had to make a strenuous effort to concentrate deeply upon my practices, but now that I enjoy their taste, I concentrate effortlessly without distraction.

Narada describes, “Discussion of their sweetheart Kṛṣṇa flows from their mouths like a river flooding in all directions! Those who drink from this river never tire of it, and are not distracted at all by ordinary hungers, thirsts, fears, etc.”[3]

[1] The Sanskrit term for this stage is ruci. In the most literal sense, ruci means “luster” or “brilliance.” When something is lustrous and beautiful we appreciate it. When we appreciate something we “have a taste for it.”

[2] BP 1.5.27

[3] BP 4.29.40

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