Question from a devotee: I would like to understand the difference between Gyān Yog and Bhakti Yog.
Answer by Swamiji: Gyān Yog is the path to God-realization based on the premise of Advait vād that the soul itself is God; when it dispels its covering of ignorance and gets seated in knowledge, it will get liberated from the illusion of Maya. Then it will realize itself to be one with the formless Brahman for eternity, devoid of any form, attribute, activity or qualities. The Gyān Yogī strives to attain knowledge of the self, and be practically situated on that platform. This requires analyzing that one is not the body, senses, mind, intellect and ego. First, this knowledge is understood theoretically, by hearing from the Guru and the scriptures. Then one repeatedly meditates on the knowledge and tries to realize it practically. In this manner, material desires related to the body diminish slowly. Finally, one gains practical insight into the nature of the self. Bhakti Yog is based on the premise that the soul is an integral part of God; it has turned its back towards God, and hence it is suffering in the cycle of life and death because of Maya. This Maya is not an illusion; it is energy of God. So the soul needs to surrender itself to God and attract his grace, by which it will receive the divine knowledge, love and bliss of God. Bhakti Yog involves developing immense love for the Lord. In such a state, the devotee develops an intense longing to see God, meet him, and be with him. Whatever one does, the mind remains attached to God and the thoughts flow towards him, like the rivers flow towards the ocean. Such love in the heart cleanses it of all impurities. With a pure heart, one begins to see God in all living beings and in all things. As the thoughts become sublime, the devotee experiences the unlimited divine bliss of God and becomes fully satisfied. On liberation, the soul does not become God; it goes to his divine abode, and there in a divine body, it eternally participates in the loving pastimes of God.