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What is Bhakti Yoga?

An often asked question among many Yoga enthusiasts and practitioners is – What is Bhakti Yoga? In this post, we’ll understand what is Bhakti Yoga in simple bulleted points taking references from the 1st chapter of the Bhakti Yoga by Swami Vivekananda

Bhakti Yoga – Definition

Bhakti-Yoga is a real, genuine search after the Lord, a search beginning, continuing, and ending in love. One single moment of the madness of extreme love to God brings us eternal freedom.

The Meaning of Bhakti Yoga

  1. “Bhakti”, says Nârada in his explanation of the Bhakti-aphorisms, “is intense love to God”; “When a man gets it, he loves all, hates none; he becomes satisfied for ever”; “This love cannot be reduced to any earthly benefit”, because so long as worldly desires last, that kind of love does not come
  2. The one great advantage of Bhakti is that it is the easiest and the most natural way to reach the great divine
  3. “Bhakti is greater than karma, greater than Yoga, because these are intended for an object in view, while Bhakti is its own fruition, its own means and its own end.”
  4. Bhakti Yoga vs. Knowledge & Yoga – Three things are necessary for a bird to fly — the two wings and the tail as a rudder for steering. Jnana (Knowledge) is the one wing, Bhakti (Love) is the other, and Yoga is the tail that keeps up the balance.
  5. The best definition is, however, that given by the king of Bhaktas, Prahlâda: “That deathless love which the ignorant have for the fleeting objects of the senses — as I keep meditating on Thee — may not that love slip away from my heart!” Love! For whom? For the Supreme Lord Ishvara. Love for any other being, however great cannot be Bhakti

Bhakti Yoga refers to the God & the love for the god and hence it is important to understand Who is God (Ishvara)

Who is God?

To better understand what is Bhakti Yoga, and Bhakti i.e. intense devotion to god, we need to correctly understand – Who is God (Ishvara)?

From whom is the birth, continuation, and dissolution of the universe,” — He is Ishvara — “the Eternal, the Pure, the Ever-Free, the Almighty, the All-Knowing, the All-Merciful, the Teacher of all teachers

Also read – Does The Soul Love? – Swami Vivekananda

How is this God different from the personal god that we worship?

It has always to be understood that the Personal God worshipped by the Bhakta is not separate or different from the Brahman.

To use a simile: Brahman is like the clay or substance out of which an infinite variety of articles are fashioned. As clay, they are all one; but form or manifestation differentiates them.

Before every one of them was made, they all existed potentially in the clay, and, of course, they are identical substantially

when formed, and so long as the form remains, they are separate and different; the clay-mouse can never become a clay-elephant, because, as manifestations, form alone makes ‘them what they are, though as unformed clay they are all one.

Bhakti Yoga in lower forms

The great disadvantage of Bhakti Yoga is that in its lower forms it oftentimes degenerates into hideous fanaticism

The fanatical crew across religions around the world have always been almost exclusively recruited from these worshippers on the lower planes of Bhakti.

All the weak and undeveloped minds in every religion or country have only one way of loving their own ideal, i.e. by hating every other ideal.

This is why the same man who is so lovingly attached to his own ideal of God, so devoted to his own ideal of religion, becomes a howling fanatic as soon as he sees or hears anything of any other ideal.

The fanatic loses all power of judgment

Bhakti Yoga in its higher form

That singleness of attachment (Nishthâ) to a loved object, without which no genuine love can grow, is very often also the cause of the denunciation of everything else.

When Bhakti has become ripe and has passed into that form which is called the supreme (Parâ), no more is there any fear of these hideous manifestations of fanaticism; that soul which is overpowered by this higher form of Bhakti is too near the God of Love to become an instrument for the diffusion of hatred.

Conclusion – What is Bhakti Yoga?

To conclude – Bhakti Yoga is intensive devotion to god. God is from whom is the birth, continuation, and dissolution of the universe,” — He is Ishvara — “the Eternal, the Pure, the Ever-Free, the Almighty, the All-Knowing, the All-Merciful, the Teacher of all teachers. hen a man gets it, he loves all, hates none; he becomes satisfied forever”; “This love cannot be reduced to any earthly benefit”, because so long as worldly desires last, that kind of love does not come.

Bhakti Yoga

The path of devotion to the Divine is Bhakti Yoga. This is the path of surrendering your ego to whatever is your perception of divinity. Through complete surrender, you start to realize the reality of self.

On the world Yoga Forum, the complete text on Bhakti Yoga by Swami Vivekananda has been compiled in the form of 10 chapters.

What is Yoga?

Yoga is often seen as a way to get physically fit through postures and breathing exercises. However, there’s much more to Yoga than asanas or breathing exercises. Yoga is one of the 6 philosophical schools of Hinduism. These include Sankhya, Yoga, Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Mimamsa, and Vedanta. The practice of yoga has been thought to date back to pre-Vedic Indian traditions; possibly in the Indus valley civilization around 3000 BCE.

What is the Goal of Yoga?

Yoga is cessation (nirodha) of the activities (vrittis) of mind (chitta) according to patanjali’s definition in the 2nd sutra in Yoga Sutras. Vrittis refer to any sequence of thoughts, ideas, mental imaging or cognitive act performed by the mind, intellect, or ego. The mind & body are one and a part of nature (prakriti), and the soul is separate. Read More on the Goal of Yoga

It is important to note that the mind & body are one and a part of nature (prakriti), and the soul is separate.

Chitta consists of 3 things i.e.

  1. Intelligence (Buddhi)
  2. Ego (Ahankara)
  3. Mind (Manas).

Chitta can be compared to the software and the body to hardware. Both software & hardware are useless without the presence of an observer. Only the soul (purusa) is truly alive. When the soul is uncoupled from the mind in its pure state cannot be rambled and is changeless (unlike the mind).

About World Yoga Forum

World Yoga Forum

World Yoga Forum is a platform for Yoga, Meditation enthusiasts, practitioners, trainers, and teachers to share knowledge and experience on Yoga. World Yoga Forum’s mission is to promote better living through the wisdom of ancient spiritual knowledge and practices. Yoga is often seen as a way to get physically fit through postures and breathing exercises. However, there’s much more to Yoga than asanas or breathing exercises. Yoga is one of the 6 philosophical schools of Hinduism. These include Sankhya, Yoga, Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Mimamsa, and Vedanta. The practice of yoga has been thought to date back to pre-Vedic Indian traditions; possibly in the Indus valley civilization around 3000 BCE.

Topics and Chapters Covered on The World Yoga Forum

  • Basic of Yoga – Yoga is often seen as a way to get physically fit through postures and breathing exercises. However, there’s much more to Yoga than asanas or breathing exercises.
  • Raja Yoga – It is the path of control. In this practice, you bring body, mind, and breath under control to let go of ego and realize the self.
  • Bhakti Yoga – The path of devotion to the Divine is Bhakti Yoga. This is the path of surrendering your ego to whatever is your perception of divinity. Through complete surrender, you start to realize the reality of self.
  • Karma Yoga – The path of selfless duty. When you follow this path, you do your duty to the best of your abilities, without attachment to results or rewards.
  • Jnana Yoga – Jnana Yoga (Also read as Gyana Yoga) is the path of knowledge. In this practice, you surrender the ego through acquiring knowledge, which removes ignorance and illusion, and leads to understanding the reality of the Self.
  • Hatha Yoga – Hatha Yoga focuses on Asanas and Pranayama (yoga poses and meditation) and a large part of Yoga that we see today in the form of Yoga poses and asanas are essentially Hatha Yoga.

Basics of Yoga Free Ebook pdf

Book Title – Basics of Yoga

Number of Pages: 7

Learn the basic concepts of Yoga including its origins, meaning, definitions, and goals through this simple free e-book.

The goal is to place Yoga in its correct context and bring forward the ancient practices & rich knowledge of Yoga that can help you set a strong foundation. Most schools of Yoga today have been derived from the Yoga Sutras. Yoga Sutras is a compilation of all the learnings of Yoga. Its interpretations have given rise to multiple schools in Yoga. This book is useful for beginners, practitioners, and enthusiasts in Yoga.

9 thoughts on “What is Bhakti Yoga?”

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