The integral yoga takes as its goal something far different than most of the individual yogic paths. The goal here is not liberation from the world, dissolution of the individual, or renunciation of action. Rather, the integral yoga calls for the liberation of the nature and the transformation of the human instrument to become a ready and receptive instrument of the divine action in the world. The ego-personality must be surrendered in order to create the necessary openness and responsiveness to the divine implementation. Due to the complexity of the individual life and circumstances, there is no “one size fits all” approach to the yoga. Rather, at each stage, the practitioner finds himself confronted with new challenges, repetitive issues, and the need for flexibility in dealing with the issues of the mind, emotions, life-energy and physical body in the setting of the societal and environmental framework that exists at the time. The practitioner then finds that a particular practice that was helpful in the past may no longer be what is called for to meet today’s challenges. Thus, there has to be constant awareness which best comes about through the psychological separation of the witness consciousness from the active nature.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “As regards X’s question — this is not a yoga of bhakti alone; it is or at least it claims to be an integral yoga, that is, a turning of all the being in all its parts to the Divine. It follows that there must be knowledge and works as well as bhakti, and in addition, it includes a total change of the nature, a seeking for perfection, so that the nature also may become one with the nature of the Divine. It is not only the heart that has to turn to the Divine and change, but the mind also — so knowledge is necessary, and the will and power of action and creation also — so works too are necessary. In this yoga the methods of other yogas are taken up — like this of Purusha-Prakriti, but with a difference in the final object. Purusha separates from Prakriti, not in order to abandon her, but in order to know himself and her and to be no longer her plaything, but the knower, lord and upholder of the nature; but having become so or even in becoming so, one offers all that to the Divine. One may begin with knowledge or with works or with bhakti or with Tapasya of self-purification for perfection (change of nature) and develop the rest as a subsequent movement or one may combine all in one movement. There is no single rule for all, it depends on the personality and the nature. Surrender is the main power of the yoga, but the surrender is bound to be progressive; a complete surrender is not possible in the beginning, but only a will in the being for that completeness, — in fact it takes time; yet it is only when the surrender is complete that the full flood of the sadhana is possible. Till then there must be the personal effort with an increasing reality of surrender. One calls in the power of the Divine Shakti and once that begins to come into the being, it at first supports the personal endeavour, then progressively takes up the whole action, although the consent of the sadhak continues to be always necessary. As the Force works, it brings in the different processes that are necessary for the sadhak, processes of knowledge, of bhakti, of spiritualised action, of transformation of the nature. The idea that they cannot be combined is an error.” Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 6, Sadhana Through Love and Devotion, Bhakti and the Integral Yoga, pp. 168-169

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at and daily podcast at He is author of 16 books and is editor-in-chief at Lotus Press. He is president of Institute for Wholistic Education, a non-profit focused on integrating spirituality into daily life.