The harmony of the teachings of Sri Ramana and Sri Aurobindo
The usual idea is that Jnana is difficult because it is all self-effort and doing; Bhakti is easy because it is non-doing. I have actually find the opposite to be the case.
With Bhakti one consciously aspires to the Supreme, and consciously offers upo everything to the Supreme. That is the path of "doing". The goal is to attain teh Supreme (the Mystical Ascemnt) or be transformed by the Divine (mystical descent)
With Jnana one simply tries (even try isn't the right word) to realise what one always is, including at this very moment. One simply abuides in the consciousness of the now. It is the supreme non-doing, not striving, not becoming anything you are not, just stepping back and watching and being the nonduual Conscoiousness one already is (albeit without getting caught up in the dramas of the surface consciousness)
But as I have said, ultimately these two paths and these two revelations are complementary, and non-exclusive.
And while Sri Aurobindo did instruct his devotees to follow the path of devotion centered on The Mother (as they were having difficulty with the pure path of gnosis and ascent to Supermind), his opus Synthesis of Yoga follows the Gita in integrating all three yogas and margas - Karma, Bhakti, and Jnana, These are reconciled in the fourth, the Integral or Purna (full or complete) Yoga.
There is another thing worth mentioning. According to Sri Aurobindo, his yoga ends where all the other yogas begin. I never truly realised what this meant until now.
Anyway here's a relevant passage from the Life Divine (here I tried to break the quote from LD into thematic threads).
Experiencing both the revelation of Sri Aurobindo and that of Sri
Ramana in a non-contradictory way, feeling the two blending, realising the two Teachers as great Enlighteneed masters and avatars, a true Integral and Integrative Spirituality, is nothing new. In an email, Rick Lipschutz provides an iunvaluable historical anecdote and quotation:
Sri Kapali Sastry (1886-1953), a noted Sanskritist of the twentieth
century, born Tantric and a noted Vedic scholar, was a disciple of Sri
Ramana before becoming a disciple of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother and
following their sadhana. Sri Kapali composed among many other works
the Siddhanjana, a commentary on the first ashtaka of the Rig-Veda
where he differs considerably from Sayana and provides a solid
scholarly underpinning for Sri Aurobindo's interpretation of the Veda.
Yet even after become an ashramite Sastry continued to produce
commentaries of considerable interpretative merit on Sri Ramana's
teachings. Kapali's student, the prolific and peripatetic M.P. Pandit,
writes, in a diary containing spoken observations of his longtime
mentor published on p. 238 in Volume III of the 12-volume collected
works of T.V. Kapali Sastri (available from Sri Aurobindo Ashram):
"Sri Maharshi's path and the path of Sri Aurobindo differ in this way.
In the former, apparently, it is you who are to work out your sadhana.
In the latter, you count for little; you cannot do anything much; it
is they [Sri Aurobindo and The Mother] to whom you have to surrender
yourself completely who can and will work out the sadhana.
"But we must also note that when the Maharshi says, 'It is you who
have to look within yourself and work out your sadhana,' he puts in
the needed influence, anugraha, to help you proceed and do the
"Similarly, here, when Sri Aurobindo and the Mother say, 'Surrender
everything of you to the Divine and be free,' they put in you the
necessary force which enables you to carry out your indispensable
individual effort for surrendering all that you have and are.
"In the Maharshi's teaching, as indeed in all yogas of ancient India,
the problem to be solved is the problem of the individual. In Sri
Aurobindo's teaching, it is the problem of man in his total being and
the meaning of his existence on the earth that is sought to be
discovered and worked out. The problems are different and so are the
For more on subject, see my posting on Open Integral on the need to go beyond literal interpretations to the inner esoteric understanding and revelation. It is on that level that the teachings of Ramana and Sri Aurobindo are seen and appreciated as non-contradictory.