“For those whose minds are attached to the unmanifested, impersonal feature of the Supreme, advancement is very troublesome. To make progress in that discipline is always difficult for those who are embodied.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 12.5)
क्लेशो ऽधिकतरस् तेषाम्
अव्यक्ता हि गतिर् दुःखं
kleśo ‘dhikataras teṣām
avyaktā hi gatir duḥkhaṁ
“The plea I hear quite often from the bhakti side is the ease with which the formula can be implemented. The premise is reaching perfection in consciousness. This is the reason His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada translates bhakti-yoga as ‘Krishna consciousness.’
“Consciousness is the factor by which we grade the different species. From higher to lower, we have a linear scale of impact of consciousness. Since there is always spirit soul inside, there is no real effect on the individual. When we speak of grades of consciousness, this is in terms of suppression.
“Consciousness is least suppressed in the human species. At least there is the opportunity to remove every impediment. This is the ultimate purpose of spiritual life. The individual is ananda, or blissful. The individual is not meant for illusion. It is not meant for hopelessness or despair.
“The issue is that there are different methods for purifying the consciousness. You could say these are different religious systems, or dharma. Supposedly, bhakti-yoga is the best way. There is the ease of implementation. There is the practical application across all time periods. That is to say, both the child and the seasoned adult have the potential to reach perfection.
“There must be something I am missing, though. If bhakti-yoga were so easy, why is not everyone applying the principles? What exactly is so difficult about the other options? Should not achieving the highest goal of all require some hardship and perseverance?”
The ease relates to portability, functionality, and availability. Bhakti-yoga can be practiced in any place. The functional aspects can be completed by any person, regardless of what other abilities they possess. There is availability across regions, time periods, predominant cultures, languages spoken, and so forth.
There are difficulties with other systems. We see that karma-yoga has the work component. A person must do something that produces a result. This is known as karma-phala. To qualify as yoga, the phala must be sacrificed. For a higher purpose, for furthering the goal of purification of consciousness.
Jnana-yoga involves study. Learn about Brahman. Progress in the discipline of Vedanta. Reach the ultimate conclusion that the individual is spirit soul and that the sum collective of souls is the energy known as Brahman.
Mystic yoga likely has the most restrictions. No sex life. No outside interaction. Living in a quiet, secluded place. Focusing the eyes on the tip of the nose. Sitting in a particular way. Controlling the mind.
In any of these methods, the slightest deviation has the potential to ruin the entire proposal. Like the single chink in the armor, the one person slowing down the team, the anchor to hold everything back. There are enough difficulties based on the requirements of the arena, but then there is the lingering issue of total destruction.
On the other side, bhakti-yoga can be as simple as reading a single book on a daily basis. Take Shrimad Bhagavatam and flow through the narrative. Hear from the authorized commentator and make a comparison to daily life. This is for practical application of the principles.
Simply reading the book on a daily basis can satisfy the requirements for bhakti-yoga. Any person can do this. They do not have to move. They do not have to enroll in a specific institution. They do not require the approval of others. They do not have to keep strict attention on the rules and regulations.
Shri Krishna, the object of worship, confirms the classification. He says that the impersonal path is more difficult for those who are embodied. There are many troubles with trying to understand God in the roundabout method. Outside of bhakti-yoga, the achievement is knowing God indirectly.
Just as a person can know the sun through the rays visible outside the window, so the influence of God is everywhere. The sum total of this influence is the virata-rupa, or the universal form. God shows Himself in an impersonal way.
Bhakti-yoga is knowing God personally. It is establishing a direct relationship with Him. Not only is the barrier for entry lower, but there is assistance from the other side. There is no reason to fear loss of progress. The entirety will never be destroyed. It is like a steadily increasing bank account. In this way, the path of bhakti-yoga is superior and the recommended way for every person looking to achieve perfection in the human life.
If so easy to play,
Why not all in that way?
Where holy names chanting,
And progress quickly granting.
Ease in availability taking,
But not in actual choice making.
Such that other processes to sustain,
But only in devotion fully to gain.