An Introduction to Bhakti Yoga

12 Oct

Bhakti yoga is a sacred way described in Hindu philosophy which is supposed to be for nurturing love, devotion and surrender to God. It is a way to understand God, and is the easiest method for the common person because it doesn’t include extensive yogic practices. It is the most natural path for those who are dominantly seeking emotional fulfillment and well being. The one great advantage of bhakti is that it is the easiest and the most natural way to reach the great divine end in view; its great disadvantage is that in its lower forms it oftentimes degenerates into hideous fanaticism. Bhakti-Yoga is a real, genuine search after the Lord, a search beginning, continuing, and ending in love.

Bhakti is a Sanskrit term that emphasizes an attitude of affection, dedication and loyalty to a personal God. It signifies the human relationship with God but in a different way which is called devotion or divine love. This is a supreme state of being where the knower and known, subject and object, deity and devotee – all become One. This is the essence of Bhakti Yoga. Bhakti connotes devotion, or love, and love implies service. Service refers to that activity which is intended to please the beloved. Thus “devotional service” is an eloquent definition of Bhakti. So Bhakti-yoga means to practice connecting with God, and reestablishing our relationship with Him, through acts of love and service, or devotional service.

The term Bhakti comes from the root ‘Bhaj’, which means ‘to be attached to God’. Though yogas are commonly used for health and fitness, the Vedic texts explain that yoga is meant to connect with God. Bhakti is love for love’s sake. Love, but not for reward, not to escape punishment, even not for enlightenment, love only for love’s sake. This continuous flow of love and life force brings about a superconscious state of awareness which is generally called a mood, or bhava. In Bhakti yoga, everything is but a manifestation of the divine and all else is meaningless, including the Ego. The follower wants none but God. Bhakti is highest love for God, holy feeling with sublime sentiments that connects the devotees with the Lord. Yogis who practice this branch see the “One” or the Divine in everyone and everything.

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