Devotion is not something measured externally by how an individual sings, dances, prays or manifests various signs such as ‘speaking in tongues’, although any one of these activities may indeed be expressions of a deep inner devotion. The measure of devotion is one that reflects the internal state of the seeker. It may be expressive and effusive, or it may be totally indrawn and bring the seeker into a state of ecstatic contemplation. Devotion is an outflowering of the soul, not an expression of vital enthusiasm.

We can find examples of devotion in virtually all the spiritual and religious traditions of the world. Notable examples include Anandamayi Ma and Hildegard of Bingen, although many more could be cited. If we review their lives and their own expressions about their relation to the Divine, we can find the thread that leads us to the experience, and eventually the status of divine love, Bhakti, which is the fulfillment of spiritual surrender to the Divine by the individual.

For those individuals who naturally follow the path of devotion, the process involves coming in contact with the psychic being in the mystic heart centre, and allowing it to come forward and express the attitudes of aspiration, adoration, gratitude, compassion, love and self-giving which are natural to the psychic being.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “The very object of yoga is a change of consciousness — it is by getting a new consciousness or by unveiling the hidden consciousness of the true being within and progressively manifesting and perfecting it that one gets first the contact and then the union with the Divine. Ananda and Bhakti are part of that deeper consciousness, and it is only when one lives in it and grows in it that Ananda and Bhakti can be permanent. Till then, one can only get experiences of Ananda and Bhakti, but not the constant and permanent state. But the state of Bhakti and constantly growing surrender does not come to all at an early stage of the sadhana; many, most indeed, have a long journey of purification and Tapasya to go through before it opens, and experiences of this kind, at first rare and interspersed, afterwards frequent, are the landmarks of their progress. It depends on certain conditions, which have nothing to do with superior or inferior yoga-capacity, but rather with a predisposition in the heart to open, as you say, to the Sun of the Divine Influence.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Growing Within: The Psychology of Inner Development, Chapter V Growth of Consciousness, Means and Methods, pg. 103

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at and podcast at He is author of 17 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.