This article attempts to focus on Bhakti Yoga in the Bhagavad Gita, but for those that don’t know here is a brief summary of The Bhagavad Gita. The Bhagavad Gita is often referred to as the Gita, is one of the world’s most revered spiritual texts. A small section of the Indian epic Mahabharata, the Gita takes the form of a dialogue between Prince Arjuna and his charioteer, the deity Krishna. Within its verses, it explores various paths of yoga, including Jnana (knowledge), Karma (action), and notably, Bhakti (devotion). Bhakti Yoga, the path of devotional love, is especially poignant for those seeking a personal, emotional connection to the divine.
What is Bhakti Yoga?
Bhakti Yoga is often described as the yoga of love and devotion towards the divine. It focuses on fostering a personal relationship with a higher power, through affection, trust, and dedication. Bhakti practitioners believe that through pure love and surrender, one can merge with the divine, bypassing the trappings of the ego and the material world.
Bhakti Yoga in the Bhagavad Gita: A breakdown
In the Gita, Lord Krishna elucidates the profound principles and practices of Bhakti Yoga. Here are some central teachings:
- Unwavering Devotion: One of the hallmarks of Bhakti Yoga is unwavering devotion. Krishna says to Arjuna: “Fix your mind on Me, be devoted to Me, worship Me and bow to Me. Doing so, you will come to Me alone, I truly promise you, for you are exceptionally dear to Me.” (Gita 18.65).
- Surrender: In the face of life’s many challenges, the act of surrendering to the divine can bring inner peace. Krishna counsels: “Give up all varieties of religiousness, and just surrender unto Me; I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear.” (Gita 18.66).
- Selfless Service: Bhakti isn’t just about emotion; it’s also about action. Serving without expecting rewards is a key element of this path. “Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer in sacrifice, whatever you give, whatever you practise as austerity, O Arjuna, do it for Me and as an offering unto Me.” (Gita 9.27).
- Equanimity: A true Bhakti practitioner sees the divine in all beings and treats everyone with equal love and respect. “One who sees Me everywhere and sees everything in Me, I am not lost to him, and he is not lost to Me.” (Gita 6.30).
- Chanting and Remembrance: Repeating the names of the divine, often in the form of mantras, helps keep the practitioner’s mind focused on the divine. “Of sacrifices, I am the chanting of the holy names (japa).” (Gita 10.25).
Why is Bhakti Yoga relevant today?
In an era marked by detachment, individualism, and a rush towards material success, the teachings of Bhakti Yoga from the Bhagavad Gita present an antidote. They remind us of the power of love, the importance of connection, and the profound peace that comes from surrendering to something greater than ourselves.
Bhakti Yoga doesn’t necessitate a retreat from the world. Instead, it asks for an internal shift, a change in perception, whereby every act, thought, and emotion becomes a form of worship.
Bhakti Yoga in the Bhagavad Gita: A summary
In essence, the Bhagavad Gita’s teachings on Bhakti Yoga invite us to infuse our lives with love, to see the sacred in the mundane, and to recognise the interconnectedness of all existence. It’s a path that promises not just spiritual awakening but also a heart filled with compassion, joy, and boundless love.