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Bhakti Yoga by Swami Vivekananda

Bhakti yoga, also called the bhakti marga or the path of devotion is a spiritual practice within Hinduism focused on loving devotion towards any personal deity. It is one of the three paths in Hinduism which lead to Moksha (salvation), the other paths being Jnana yoga and Karma yoga. It has been discussed in detail by the Bhagvad Gita.

Bhakti Yoga is one of the key literary works by Swami Vivekananda, where he has discussed the path of devotion (bhakti) in detail. The following segment has all the 10 main chapters from his work – Bhakti Yoga.

Bhakti Yoga

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

Bhakti Yoga – Chapters

Bhakti Yoga 1: Prayer – Swami Vivekananda

Bhakti Yoga 2: Philosophy of Ishvara – Swami Vivekananda

Bhakti Yoga 3: Spiritual Realization, The Aim of Bhakti-Yoga

Bhakti Yoga 4: The Need Of A Guru

Bhakti Yoga 5: Qualifications of the Aspirant and The Teacher

Bhakti Yoga 6: Incarnate Teachers and Incarnation

Bhakti Yoga 7: The Mantra – OM

Bhakti Yoga 8: The Worship of Substitutes and Images

Bhakti Yoga 9: The Chosen Ideal

Bhakti Yoga 10: The Method and The Means


All articles on Bhakti Yoga on The World Yoga Forum

Bhakti Yoga 10: The Method and The Means

This is the tenth and the last chapter in the series of Bhakti Yoga by Swami Vivekananda. In regard to the method and the means of Bhakti-Yoga we read in the commentary of Bhagvan Ramanuja on the Vedanta-Sutras: “The attaining of That comes through discrimination, controlling the passions, practice, sacrificial work, purity, strength, and suppression of excessive joy”. Vivekas or discrimination is, according to Ramanuja, discrimination, among other things, the pure food from the impure. According to him, food becomes impure from three causes by the nature of the food itself, as in the case of garlic etc. owing to…

Read Full Chapter on Bhakti Yoga by Swami Vivekananda

Bhakti Yoga 9: The Chosen Ideal

This is the ninth chapter in the series on Bhakti Yoga by Swami Vivekananda. The next thing to be considered is what we know as Ishta-Nishtha. One who aspires to be a Bhakta (Devotee) must know that “so many opinions are so many ways”. He must know that all the various sects of the various religions are the various manifestations of the glory of the same Lord. “They call you by so many names; they divide You, as it were, by different names, yet in each one of these is to be found Your omnipotence… You reach the worshipper through…

Read Full Chapter on Bhakti Yoga by Swami Vivekananda

Bhakti Yoga 8: The Worship of Substitutes and Images

This is the eighth chapter of the Bhakti Yoga series by Swami Vivekananda. The next points to be considered are the worship of Pratikas or of things more or less satisfactory as substitutes for God, and the worship of Pratimas or images. What is the worshp of God through a Pratika? It is – Joining the mind with devotion to that which is not Brahman, taking it the be Brahman – says Bhagavan Ramanuja. “Worship the mind as Brahman this is internal; and the Akasha as Brahman, this is with regard to the Devas”, says Shankara. The mind is an…

Read Full Chapter on Bhakti Yoga by Swami Vivekananda
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