It was a late Saturday afternoon and the college hours were almost over. I was in the laboratory busy overseeing the chemistry practical classes and warning the BSc honors students to finish quickly as the bell was about to ring. The lab assistant brought me a visiting card saying that someone wanted to see me. A bit puzzled, I thought: who could be the visitor at this time, during college hours?
Those who are "seekers after knowledge" are jnana yogis, spiritual seekers whose keen, discriminating intellects are more powerful than their emotions. Jnana yoga asserts that ignorance of our divine nature is the only obstacle to spiritual realization, and knowledge alone can remove this obstacle.
Bhakti yoga assures us that the Lord lovingly accepts whatever we offer with devotion. But just as we can offer flowers and fruits, love and adoration, so we can offer our actions and their fruits. This is the sadhana of our third yoga, karma yoga.
The goal of bhakti yoga, the path of devotion, is to develop such intense, one-pointed love for God that no distance is left between the lover and the Beloved. The state of union that the raja yogi achieves through meditation, the bhakti yogi attains through wholehearted devotion.
While meditation has become widely associated in popular culture with relaxation techniques, meditation in the Hindu tradition is the antithesis of a passive act. True meditation is an intense and concentrated search for the divine Reality within. According to Patanjali—the ancient sage and author of the Yoga Sutras—meditation (dhyana) is "an unbroken flow of thought toward the object of concentration and has been compared to an unbroken, steady stream of oil when poured from one vessel to another."