Tag Archives: Swami Vivekananda

Karma-Yoga and Bhakti-Yoga

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Karma-Yoga and Bhakti-Yoga [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Hermetic Library Figure Swami Vivekananda.

Vivekananda Karma-Yoga and Bhakti-Yoga

This volume collects two of “the Yogas” by Vivekananda in their standard English edition. They are paginated separately, and in this review I’ll refer to (K #) for Karma-Yoga and (B #) for Bhakti-Yoga.

These short books are quite inspiring. As always, Vivekananda writes as a Vedantist whose essential spirituality is universalist. He often pauses to point out the good and bad in various world religions, and Christianity is certainly not immune to criticism. He implicitly derides the doctrine of original sin and Christian self-hatred (K 16ff.), and he makes numerous anti-Protestant remarks: “at present there is scarcely any difference between the advanced Protestants and the followers of Auguste Comte, or the Agnostics who preach ethics alone” (B 46).

His occasional praises for Christianity concern the features of the Christian legacy most clearly presented in Thelema. Writing of the point at which Karma, Bhakti, and Jnana become indistinguishable, he says: “The worshipper, by keeping constantly before him the idea of God and a surrounding of good, comes to the same point at last and says, ‘Thy will be done'” (K 80-1). And in reference to Vatsalya: “The idea of loving God as a child comes into existence and grows naturally among those religious sects which believe in the incarnation of God” (B 98-9).

The second section of Bhakti-Yoga, concerning “Para-Bhakti or Supreme Devotion,” is the very best part of this volume. In it, Vivekananda describes the agape of the adepts, and he explains how it is that the obligation of the Master of the Temple to “interpret every phenomenon as a particular dealing of God with my Soul” is in fact the “central secret” of bhakti yoga (B 73).

3. The pain-bearing obstructions are — ignorance, egoism, attachment, aversion and clinging to life.

These are the five pains, the fivefold tie that binds us down, of which ignorance is the cause and the other four its effects. It is the only cause of all our misery. What else can make us miserable? The nature of the Soul is eternal bliss. What can make it sorrowful except ignorance, hallucination, delusion? All pain of the Soul is simply delusion.

Patanjali’s Yoga Aphorisms, Chapter II – Concentration: Its Practice (in Swami Vivekananda’s Raja Yoga)

Hermetic quote Patanjali Yoga Aphorisms pain bearing obstructions ignorance egoism attachment aversion clinging to life

16. The misery which is not yet come is to be avoided.

Some Karma we have worked out already, some we are working out now in the present, and some are waiting to bear fruit in the future. The first kind is past and gone. The second we will have to work out, and it is only that which is waiting to bear fruit in the future that we can conquer and control, towards which end all our forces should be directed. This is what Patanjali means when he says that Samskaras are to be controlled by resolving them into their causal state

Patanjali’s Yoga Aphorisms, Chapter II – Concentration: Its Practice (in Swami Vivekananda’s Raja Yoga)

Hermetic quote Patanjali's Yoga Aphorisms misery not yet come to be avoided

“Independence”, Chapter IV of Patanjali’s Yoga Aphorisms in Swami Vivekananda’s Raja Yoga

“Good and bad deeds are not the direct causes in the transformations of nature, but they act as breakers of obstacles to the evolutions of nature: as a farmer breaks the obstacles to the course of water, which then runs down by its own nature.” [via]