Bhakti Yoga: The Path of Devotion

Aranya Yoga

31 December 2019

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Bhakti Yoga: The Path of Devotion

Bhakti Yoga: The Path of Devotion

Bhakti Yoga is one of the four main yogic paths to enlightenment. Bhakti means “love” or “devotion,” and this path contains several practices to unite the Bhakta (Bhakti Yoga practitioner) with the Divine. Bhakti Yoga is considered the simplest yogic path to master and the most direct method to experience the unity of body, mind, and spirit. Whereas Raja Yoga requires a disciplined and concentrated mind, Hatha Yoga requires a strong and flexible body, and Jnana Yoga requires a strong intellect, the only requirement for Bhakti Yoga is an open, loving heart. Bhakti Yoga aims to reach a state of pure bliss. Seeing everything around you as a clear indicator of Divinity, from a simple butterfly to the people around you, you may say that you have reached the goal of Bhakti.

The main feature of Bhakti Yoga is closely related to the Hindu pantheon of Deities. Such deities represent a humanized characteristic of a Superior Force, the Divine. Bhakti yoga helps the reach of a higher spiritual state, close to an epiphany. But, trying to connect with the Hindu Deities may be difficult for a few people. However, you can still practice Bhakti yoga and discover its relieving advantages. Bhakti Yoga allows you to connect with the Divinity in any form in order to express devotion.

There are nine main practices of Bhakti Yoga that can be practiced individually or together. Each of these limbs makes a specific bhava (feeling) that appeals to different inner constitutions of practitioners.

The Nine Limbs of Devotion

  1. Shravana– “listening” to the ancient scriptures, mainly potent if told by a saint or genuine Bhakta.
  2. Smarana– “remembering” the Divine by constantly meditating upon its name and form.
  3. Kirtana– “singing” devotional songs, generally practiced in a call-and-response group format.
  4. Padasevana– “service at the feet” of the Divine, which includes the practice of karma yoga (selfless service) with Bhakti (devotion).
  5. Archana– the “ritual worship” of the Divine through practices such as puja (deity worship), and havan or homa (fire offering).
  6. Vandana– the “prostration” before the image of one’s chosen image or representation of the Divine.
  7. Dasya– the “unquestioning” devotion of the Divine comprising the cultivation of serving the will of God in its place of one’s ego.
  8. Sakhya– the “friendship” and relationship established between the devotee and Divine.
  9. Atmanivedana– the “self-offering” and complete surrender of the self to the Divine.

The most popular extremity of Bhakti Yoga in the West is Kirtana, with local and national walas performing weekly in small to large cities. Bhakti Yoga can be practiced by itself or be incorporated into other types of yoga or spiritual practices.

The benefits of Bhakti Yoga are, “Bhakti relaxes the heart and removes jealousy, hatred, anger, lust, egoism, arrogance, and pride. It fills joy, divine happiness, peace, bliss, and knowledge. Anxieties and worries, fears, tribulations, and mental torments entirely vanish. The devotee is freed from the Samsaric wheel of births and deaths. He gets the immortal abode of endless peace, bliss, and knowledge. ”

The main goal in the practice of Bhakti yoga is to reach the state of the essence, a feeling of pure bliss attained in the devotional surrender to the Divine.

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