There is no clear line of demarcation between the 3 major paths of yoga that are based in the primary aspects of development, the yoga of knowledge, the yoga of devotion and the yoga of works. As they proceed down their somewhat different paths, they must necessarily gain aspects of and bring the results of the other two. As one gains in knowledge, one recognises the inherent necessity of love and devotion, and works take on a new meaning. Similarly, as one focuses intensely on the yoga of devotion, it brings a state of oneness between the devotee and the object of devotion, which brings with it a deep knowledge. As the yoga of works develops, and it becomes necessary to observe and remove the vestiges of the ego and desire from the action, the practitioner must necessarily adopt methods that harken back to the yoga of knowledge or the yoga of devotion. Sri Aurobindo makes this clear when he describes two primary methods for developing the yoga of knowledge, one of which relies on the power of knowledge, the other on the power of devotion coupled with the vital and physical action of work in the external world.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “…one of the two ways towards yoga by works is the separation of the Purusha from the Prakriti, the inner silent being from the outer active one, so that one has two consciousnesses or a double consciousness, one behind watching and observing and finally controlling and changing the other which is active in front. But this also means living in an inner peace and silence and dealing with the activities as if they were a thing of the surface. The other way of beginning the yoga of works is by doing them for the Divine, for the Mother, and not for oneself, consecrating and dedicating them till one concretely feels the Divine Force taking up the activities and doing them for one.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Growing Within: The Psychology of Inner Development, Chapter V Growth of Consciousness, Means and Methods, pg. 99

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.