Bhakti, or devotion, is the ultimate path to self-realization. Yoga is union, Bhakti is love. So this form of yoga means union through love. It can be defined as intensely loving or worshiping God with complete surrender, in simplest words. The Sanskrit word Bhakti has come from the word ‘bhaj’, meaning to ‘adore or worship God’. This devotion leads to relation and connection with someone whom one can call the God or the Divine or the Ultimate Spirit, or Self or the Source. Bhakti yoga is nothing but connecting with something or someone in whom love, attraction, beauty, heart or any kind of interest is found and feeling oneness with that particular idea.
Understanding Bhakti YogaThrough Routes and Reforms
This is one of four forms of yoga that have deep routes back to the history and mythology. In a thought it was seen as a form of overcoming all worldly matters by spiritual struggle. In other thought it was described as showing devotion to God via a channel. This had an impact on the society too, as this practice increased love and tolerance and demeaned the caste system.
Now it is reformed in many ways. One can practice it wherever and whenever they want, or he can join a festival of this yoga too. Modern thoughts believe that bhakti is a state of mind, it can be shown to anything or anyone beloved. Even it can be called bhakti, when someone offers all his effort, wealth, goodness and compassion to help a distressed person. Even this devotion can be towards studies or the nature. These all forms make a person pure, unselfish, finding the actual self and thus uniting with the Divine. Because whoever or whatever their love may be, they are fully devoted. The modern reforms don’t include idol worship, caste and gender biases and unnecessary rituals. Instead it welcomes worshiping god of own choice, devoting to anything good equality of religions.
The Hindu Traditions
The Hindu culture and traditions offer four denominations of devotion.
- Vaishnavism( worshiper of Vishnu)
- Shaivism( worshiper of Shiva)
- Shaktism (worshiper of goddess of power like Durga)
- Smartism (worship of all God)
A devotee can think of, love, worship and surrender to the God of his own choice among these four.
The four paths of Yoga
Karma Yoga : Path of work
Bhakti Yoga : Path of love and surrender
Jnana Yoga: Path of knowledge
Raja Yoga: Path of the mind
Types Of Bhakti Yoga
Different people perform this yoga in different ways. They all have separate intentions. Some people worship the God of their own choice with all rituals while some others don’t perform any rituals. Some worship God out of fear. Some expect worldly happiness from God. Some love the God unconditionally without expecting any return. They only tend to please the God. There are devotees too, who please the God by unfair paths.
Therefore, based on types of devotion, devotees are of four types.
- Artha (Distressed)
This type of devotees remember God only when they face problems.
- Artharthi(Greedy For Wealth)
These are devotees who love and worship God to pray for more wealth, happiness and other things.
This type of devotees are really curious the idea of God. They want to actually know the God.
The Jnani devotees are them who already have realization of self, can worship God with full compassion and wishing nothing in return.
9 Steps to Grow Devotion
- Having faith in God or the divine idea
- Staying connected with people of advanced spiritual thought
- Participate in devotional activities
- Trying to reduce attachment to worldly things
- Honesty and stability of mind
- Developing the taste
- Developing attachment to the Divine idea
- Feeling for God, thinking of God deeply
- Pure love for God and goodness
Bhakti doesn’t come without emotions. People should have common emotions in everday life like peace-loving, serving others, being friendly, having love and adore. Those having it can devote to God and perform Bhakti Yoga properly. They should listen to God’s stories, remember God and surrender themselves to God.
- Performing yoga of devotion helps a person become less attached to money, relationships, love, happiness or sorrow. They don’t feel weak or want any material thing badly ever again.]
- Devotion eliminates all fears and confusions of people. They don’t fear loosing anything, even they are not afraid of death. They remain calm in any situation.
- Loving god heartily can’t allow a person hate or harm other persons. A devotee behaves with love and sympathy always. Also he doesn’t feel pain. Thus he can console others.
- Mental stability is the biggest thing achieved by this practice of devotion. A devotee won’t feel angry or sad. He is able to go through any emotional turmoil calmly. He sees the world and its happenings in a different way.
- A true worshiper of the Devine has no ego. Because he doesn’t have sense or attachment for worldly possessions, even not for his own body.
- Devotions helps identify what is a temporary enjoyment and what is ultimate peace. He never runs for a temporary enjoyment and desire for something can never ruin his ultimate peace of mind.
- Heart of a devotee is always pure. There is no evil thought and no jealousy. Devotion can free a person from feeling sorry of what he doesn’t have while others possess it.
- Confidence is another big reward of devotion. A true devotee knows whatever he is doing or saying. No one can shake his confidence and he doesn’t need to please anyone for sake of anything.