Bhakti Yoga – The Yoga of devotion
This path appeals particularly to those of an emotional nature. Bhakti Yogi is motivated chiefly by the power of love and sees the Divine as the embodiment of love. Through prayer, worship and ritual the Bhakti Yogi surrenders to the Divine, channelling and transmuting emotions into unconditional love or devotion. Unlike other Yogas, Bhakti Yoga actively promotes a sense of ‘I’ – as the ego is needed to create a subject/object relationship for love to develop. A concept of the Divine with form is recommended (Guru or Deity).
The Nine Limbs of Devotion
- Shravana – “listening” to the ancient scriptures, especially potent if told by a saint or genuine bhakta.
- Kirtana – “singing” devotional songs, usually practiced in a call-and-response group format.
- Smarana – “remembering” the Divine by constantly meditating upon its name and form.
- Padasevana – “service at the feet” of the Divine, which incorporates the practice of karma yoga (selfless service) with bhakti (devotion).
- Archana – the “ritual worship” of the Divine through practices such as puja (deity worship), and havan or homa (fire offering).
- Vandana – the “prostration” before the image of one’s chosen image or representation of the Divine.
- Dasya – the “unquestioning” devotion of the Divine involving the cultivation of serving the will of God instead of one’s own ego.
- Sakhya – the “friendship” and relationship established between the Divine and the devotee.
- Atmanivedana – the “self-offering” and complete surrender of the self to the Divine.
Bhakti softens the heart and removes jealousy, hatred, lust, anger, egoism, pride and arrogance. It infuses joy, divine ecstasy, bliss, peace and knowledge. All cares, worries and anxieties, fears, mental torments and tribulations entirely vanish. The devotee is freed from the Samsaric wheel of births and deaths.