Updated: Dec 16, 2021
"To a yogi, all yoga is bhoga, and all bhoga is yoga" - Peter Marchand
While most people have heard of yoga, very few have heard of bhoga. Bhoga is a Sanskrit word that means “indulgence” or “enjoyment”. Bhoga connects us to samsara, to this world, and its attractions, distractions, and desires. Bhoga is whatever we can enjoy on the outside through our sensory organs- what is visible in the universe. Yoga is divine union with cosmic consciousness, it is the process of going within and meeting with the divine Self- that which is not visible. In this sense, yoga and bhoga are not in conflict at all, but that doesn’t mean your bhoga can’t take you away from your yoga. If we first establish ourselves in pure consciousness and then do bhoga, and if it is rightly utilized, it will raise the vibration of the planet.
Nisargadatta Maharaj makes a distinction between the yogi and the bhogi in his book, “I Am That”. He states, “The Yogi's life is governed by a single desire -- to find the Truth; the Bhogi serves many masters”. When you love something, attachment comes naturally. Attachment takes an unhealthy turn when it becomes addiction. Addiction is not just drugs and alcohol, but music, TV, social media, coffee, foods, certain thought patterns and emotions, etc. To have true freedom and to think clearly and freely, one must be liberated from their addictions. The root cause of not understanding the Truth is addiction. Bhoga can take us away from our yoga when we aren’t established in our yoga. And many studios in the West are taking bhoga into their practice in a way that is harmful to others and taking away from the ancient foundations of the practice (i.e., beer yoga, sip and flows, playing certain music that damages DNA, ignoring the higher limbs of yoga). Even Sadhguru is calling popular yoga teachers up in America to tell them to stop! People think yoga is asana, a few breathing exercises, a couple of Sanskrit words here and there, but it is not just that. The word yoga means union, not in the sense of community or anything outside of yourself, but in union with the divine. In experiencing true union with the Self in samadhi, you come to find that this same consciousness is in everything. In this sense, raising the vibration of humanity and coming together in community as beings of pure consciousness can only happen if you do your inner work (see our blog post series on the 8 Limbs of Yoga).
However, bhoga is enjoyment of all kinds of things; the enjoyment of the second chakra, not just the vices. Bhoga can be found in meeting friends, asana practice, growing spiritually, reading, walking in nature, etc. Yoga and bhoga are both part of life and should be enjoyed together. It is not just a matter of right or wrong, but of balancing our yoga and our bhoga. When you look at the world around, there is a lot more bhoga and a lot less yoga. This imbalance between bhoga and yoga is a cause for a lot of this suffering. When you are at peace with your bhoga, you are at peace with your yoga. To a yogi, all yoga is bhoga, and all bhoga is yoga (living in harmony with your true nature).