Bhakti Yoga – the path of Love and Devotion

We see love everywhere around us. Whatever in society is good and sublime is the working of that love; whatever in society is bad, nay diabolical, is also the ill-directed working out of the same emotion of love.

By its nature, love offers both fulfillment and the empowerment to become an instrument of change for ourselves, the people around us, and our environment. It help us in pursuing our heart’s deepest calling, to discover the beauty of our own true Self and appreciate life’s miracles every moment

All the twists of life lead to the simple and ageless truth – our countless desires, our insatiable longings, our fleeting gratifications and our inevitable frustrations arise from a single origin: we’ve forgotten the true understanding of love that lies dormant within us. Discovering and reawakening that love is the greatest need of this time. In the Indian philosophies, this path to rediscover love is termed as ‘Bhakti Yoga – the Yoga of love’. We often limit the understanding of Yoga as a certain kind of physical practice, but the word itself means “a joining” or “union”. Ultimately all yoga practice aims at helping us unite with the truth of who we are as pure spiritual beings.

In Indian philosophies, Love in its most gross form is called Kama (desire or lust). Kama is the basic innate feeling that we all possess. When feeling of sacrifice is added to Love it becomes Prema. In prema we do not expect anything in return. It is a language of the heart. Prema brings satisfaction and it calms down the mind. Purification of prema takes us to Bhakti. In prema we only give up material things; but when we also surrender ourselves i.e. our ego and attachments, we rise to the level of Bhakti. In Bhakti, we surrender ourselves totally; not only at the physical level, but also mentally and intellectually. Hence, Bhakti is the state where there is no separation of thoughts, feelings and actions from the ultimate ‘Supreme Consciousness’. 

“Bhakti is intense love to God. When a man gets it, he loves all, hates none; he is ever contented” – Narada Bhakti Sutra

In scriptures such as Bhagavad Gita, Ramayana and the Bhagavata, ‘Bhakti’ is most glorified as the means to achieve Yoga. A belief in the grace of ‘Supreme Being’ and in the possibility of getting liberated (with the help of His grace) is the only qualification needed to be able to march on this path. There are also few thorns in the path of Bhakti. These thorns may come to the practitioner as his own inner enemies in form of lust, anger and pride. The self-arrogating little ego persists and resists again and again. It clings like a leech – to its old habits, cravings and desires. In Bhakti Yoga the central secret is to know that the various passions, feeling, emotions in the human heart are not wrong in themselves. Emotion can take different forms. It can take positive, sweet and wonderful forms; it can also take absolutely negative, nasty and horrendous forms. They have to be carefully controlled and channelized to a higher direction, until they attain the very highest condition of excellence.

Bhakti Yoga is thus the science of emotion culture. It does not say, “Give up”; it only says “Love; love the Highest!” and everything low naturally falls off. When the moon shines brightly, all the stars become dim; and when the sun shines, the moon herself becomes dim. Operating on our emotions, purifying our emotions, raising ourselves from kama to prema, from prema to Bhakti, culminating in Self-realization, in total attunement to that Divinity; to Reality itself. It unites the lover (the devotee) with the beloved (the Divine).

Who is God? –is our mother, our father, has an all pervading presence, refereed as – ‘God’ or ‘the Lord’ or ‘the Supreme’ or ‘the Almighty’ or ‘the Divine’ etc, can have a face of both feminine and masculine, who is more than you and I can imagine, who cannot be confined by our limited conceptions, or religion, or language or intellect!

In this era of science and technology, we develop ourselves predominantly at the intellectual (left-brain) level. The right-brain related emotions are hardly trained. During emotional onslaughts we often find ourselves tossed up and down leading to stress and depression. We lack concern and love for others; we want everything for ourselves. Our heart is yet to blossom in comparison to our head; until that happens we are limiting ourselves only as intellectually-rational animals. Bhakti Yoga is a boon in nurturing the right-brain, helping in gaining control over emotional instabilities by properly harnessing the energies involved; raising us to the highest levels of universal brotherhood and oneness.

40 thoughts on “Bhakti Yoga – the path of Love and Devotion

    1. You say it so rightly. All of us have love within us. We feel it effortlessly; that’s why it’s considered the easiest of all paths in achieving Yoga!
      Thankyou for giving it a read; appreciate a lot 🙏🌸

      Like

  1. I had to read, with great attention, over and over again, your master class on Bahaki Yoga. I have not wanted to lose details of his explanation. In his writings I have found the answers to the many questions about true love and the understanding of our interior. Today we live in a problematic world. Very atypical On the one hand, propaganda fills our heads that material goods are the path of happiness. For this reason, we become selfish because to meet those needs we do not look at the sides. So, sex, especially in youth, is a priority in a relationship. True feelings are set aside and it becomes a simple carnal relationship. And finally, if those dreams are not achieved, we immerse ourselves in a world that does not allow us to lead a normal life. And there appears depression. His exhibition leaves us open windows to understand what we are living

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    1. Thankyou Mac for giving so much of your love and appreciation towards my work.
      These are not my Master classes… These learning are in the scriptures (we call them Upanishads)… They are in the form of aphorisms and are available in many interpretations by various Sages. Its mind blowing…the knowledge in them. It holds so true even after thousands of years… Thoughts, emotions, the very Life and it’s purpose…
      Your detailing of experiences is true. We all are struggling. I hope I myself can imbibe these learning into my life a little by little and also take some to few around!
      Your words matter a lot to me. Thankyou again.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Following his blog, I have read about yoga and Hindu culture. but I had not found so much spiritual peace with this writing. Today I have the answer to many questions. admire you more each time. You are young with an innate talent of knowing how to reach people and guide them to their understanding of their being. His high studies allow us to fully trust that we are receiving the right knowledge. Once again, I congratulate you on this article. I will keep it forever in my memory and, above all, deep in my heart. That deserves to be there. A huge kiss

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thankyou so much Mac. You always say things in your very special way. Despite having rich experience and knowledge you never hesitate to appreciate fellow bloggers POV…and are open to learning from different cultures… I feel so blessed to know you. Thankyou for being YOU! A big hug to you too 🤗

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  3. In Bhagwad Gita it is written-

    All of them- as they surrender unto Me- I reward accordingly. Everyone follows My path in all respects, O son of Partha.

    So, it is the mood which leads and drives us on our path of Bhakti. It depends upon the bhav or inner mood of the devotee.

    We can approach a God in two moods- Awe and reference or love and intimate sweetness. Both address the same supreme lord , Sri Krishna but one is on the platform of tattva ( knowledge- bound) and other is on the platform of rasa ( love – bound).

    If our heart is attracted by the power, the majesty and the sheer almightness of the lord, we will be able to practice a similar to this inner mood. We call this path Vaidhi- Bhakti. In Chaitanya Charitamrita it is written –

    Vidhi- bhaktye parshada- deme vaikunthete Tata

    “Through ‘Vidhi Bhakti’, one will attain the form of an associate in Vaikuntha.”

    The nine elements of Vaidhi bhakti are-

    Sravana- hearingkirtana- glorifyingsmarana- remembrancevandana- prayerpada- Sevana- simple servicedasya- serving modepujana- worshipsakhya- friendshipatma- nivedanam- total selfsurrender

    If our heart is attracted by intimate and sweet aspect of lord, we will be able to practice a path similar to inner mood. We call this path raganuga- bhakti.

    “ Raga – bhaktye Vraje svayam bhagvane paya”

    “Through raga – bhakti, one will attain the lord Himself in Vraja”

    Both paths of Bhakti, vaidhi and raganuga bhakti are included in the “ Sadhna- bhakti stage, since bhakti is divided into three categories in accordance with its development.

    Sadhna Bhakti- This bhakti is accomplished through the functions of the senses and in it a loving devotional feeling( Bhavya) is attained, is called devotion in practice ( Sadhna – bhakti). The appearance of an eternally perfected feeling within the heart is called the stage of the attainment of perfection.

    Bhava Bhakti- A distinct manifestation of divine existence, similar to a Ray from the sun of Prema, tenderness of consciousness experienced as different tastes- that is called bhava.

    This is of five kinds namely-

    A peaceful neutral relationshipThe affection of a servantThe affection of a friendThe affection of parentThe affection of a consort, either wife or as paramour lover.

    Prema bhakti- When bhava softens the heart altogether, endowed with an abundance of possessive feeling towards Him, being very intense by nature, the wise call it Prema.

    And one of my favorite is “Navadha Bhakti”

    Navadha Bhakti

    Sri Rama and Lakshmana arrive at Sabari’s Ashrama. Sabari is beside herself with Bhakti. After accepting her touching hospitality, the Lord expounds to her Navadha Bhakti which, more or less, is on the line of Adhyatma Ramayana.

    Companionship of the saints, Sri Rama says, is His first Bhakti. Sri Shankaracharya, in Vivekachudamani, has mentioned three things which are obtained only with the Divine Grace: to be born a human, longing for moksha and fellowship with the great souls.

    Company of the saints is the first Bhakti because, in it, one perpetually remains con- nected to God. Unlike ordinary persons, saints do not indulge in worldly gossip. Every moment in their company amounts to living with God. Except for discharging essential material functions, they spend their time in spiritual or selfless altruistic pursuits. Guru Nanak says, ‘Even though the True Name comes on the lips with difficulty, I live only when I utter It, die if I forget.’16 According to Kabir, ‘the sight of saints reminds us of God. Such moments are worth being counted. The rest of the days can be expunged.’

    In Manas, Lord Shiva tells Garuda, Without Satsanga, there is not Harikatha. With- out it, infatuation does not vanish. Without gett- ing past infatuation, uncompromising love in Rama’s feet cannot be cultivated. Without love, there is no meeting with Raghunatha, yoga, austerity, knowledge and dispassion, not with standing.

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    1. Wow, that’s brilliant!! You’ve managed to bring the cream of Bhakti from the most sacred scriptures. Your comment has enriched my article…rather has brought in a lot of missing points that should have there. Thank you for adding value to this article; I’m ever grateful and humbled by the effort and time you gave. It really means a lot. I appreciate a lot 🙏

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Haha… One thing I definitely know about you is that you too are a true student of Srimad Bhagvatam (like so many of us). It feels so good connecting with spirituality minded people. Thankyou again for your kind words of appreciation; means a lot especially when it comes from the knower of the subject. Have a blessed day 🙏

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  4. Thank you so much for this. A fantastic, understandable and well written intro to this Bhakti yoga. I have been feeling stale in my practice lately and this is exactly what I needed to see to shake things up. Any resources for beginning a practice? Would be much appreciated. Thank you again, you have a way of giving inspiration, insight, and encouragement in your writing.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thankyou so much for such beautiful words. It’s really the subject that’s so light and beautiful that readers could connect and appreciate easily.
      I’m so glad you feel motivated towards your practice. We all need a little push once in a while to keep treading on the path of Yoga and who better to do this than fellow students (of Yoga)!
      Resources – in the world and life that we live in I think easiest way to cultivate Bhakti is 1. Try to be part of Satsangs around the area you stay in. If you don’t have one, maybe you organise one/once a week. 2. Try to give something back to the society (even a smile should do). 3. Try to read these scriptures (a few lines in a day is all that’s needed)…once on the path, you’ll realise one door takes you to another! Someone, I really respect and look upto gave me these pointers when I was struggling ☺️… hope they help you too in progressing ahead🙏
      Have a blessed day🌸

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Hello Mohit. Welcome to the world of blogging and Thankyou for visiting my blog.
      I still feel very new to blogging myself. And I learn everyday something new about it.
      My blog is about Yoga. Let me know for any questions you have on the subject. If I have an answer to it, I would love to help you with. If I don’t, I should still be able to direct you to someone who can!
      Have a blessed day 🙏🌸

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t think I’m be the best person for this job Mohit ji. You should touch base with bloggers winning the blogging awards and having good number of followers. I’m sure they’ll be able to guide you much better. Or you may also get in touch with WordPress technical team… I reach out to them for any technical help. Sorry for this one🙏

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  5. Thank you for this meaningful message! Love leads us to a beautiful life! And you are right practice of Bhakti yoga leads to a pure spiritual person! If we can control the positive and negative sides of emotions it wull help our inner mind! I agree with you ,Bhakti yoga helps to prevent the emotional imbalances and we can gain control over them! 🌷 😊 ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thankyou so much for your beautiful and positive comment. Love, as they say is the strongest weapon a man possesses. It has power to both make and break. If we develop this power in the way it’s meant to be… Life and it’s riddles gets so much easier. So beautifully explained in our scriptures.
      Always thankful for your visit.🙏😇❣️

      Like

    1. I am so glad to know. Thank you for sharing your experience.
      It is said we get attracted towards one of these paths of Yoga (as per our personal tendency). Eventually, all these paths culminate into one…Explanation from one of verses from Bhagavad Gita (you may have heard this before)… It says, “That person is noblest in whom all three – Knowledge, Love and Action are harmoniously fused. Three things are necessary for bird to fly – the two wings and a tail- the rudder for steering. Karma (action) is the one wing, Bhakti (love) is the other, and Jnana (Knowledge) is the tail that keeps up the balance.
      I believe with time and sincere practice we will discover/unfold all layers within us; hopefully ☺️… Thank you for your visit 🙏🌸

      Liked by 1 person

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