What is Bhakti Yoga
Meditation And Spirituality 4/30/15
Bhakti Yoga or the yoga of devotion is one of the four yogic routes to God Realization. The other three are Hatha yoga, Raja yoga, and Karma yoga. It is the easiest path to follow and its virtues are extolled in the Bhagvad Gita.
The practice of Bhakti Yoga does not place the same demands on the body as do the other forms of yoga. It gives you the freedom to visualize and pray to God in any of his manifestations, the sagun sakaar form or that of God as the Formless One, or the Nirgun Nirvikar form.
There are nine ways to bring out the feeling of Bhakti in you. These are –
- Listening to the stories of God, in any of his form. Sacred texts such as the Gita and Shiv Puran etc are sources of information and tales about God.
- Singing praises of the Lord’s name. Done singly or in a group, kirtan helps the spiritual energy rise and deepens the love we feel for God.
- Remembering the Lord’s name by chanting loudly or through internalized chants. It strengthens our belief in God and opens our eyes to his presence everywhere and his miracles.
- Service to other devotees. It helps us stay rooted and keeps our ego in check. Service also keeps us occupied in doing useful work and prevents the mind from wandering.
- Worship of an image. The worship of an image is a great technique to visualize God with his attributes; it could be falling in love with Krishna’s dusky complexion or the expression of love on Ram’s face. It is easier to concentrate, in the beginning, on an image rather than on a formless entity.
- Homage or obeisance to the Lord in a temple. Visits to temple are foundational to following the path of Bhakti yoga. All the other ways of Bhakti Yoga can be practiced easily by visiting temples because temples are places where God resides. The level of positive energy is high.
- Dedicating oneself to a life of servitude, inculcating the feeling of being God’s servant.
- Inculcating the feeling of being God’s friend. The feeling or bhaav of being a servant or God’s friend is a choice. It depends on our perception of him and the deity we choose to meditate on. This feeling of closeness with God keeps us under his vigil and keeps evil away from us.
- Total surrender of the self, handing over all responsibility to God. The ultimate solution to the ills of life. It takes only a little courage and practice. But if we begin our day by reminding ourselves that we are nothing without Him and that whatever happens, is with His knowledge then we can be assured that our devotion will be answered.
Bhakti can be practiced anywhere. You can do it when commuting to work or at rest. Any time of the day is good for putting into practice any of the above nine forms of Bhakti.
The beauty of this path has been extolled even by modern-day saints such as Shirdi Sai Baba. And the chanting of God’s name as a form of Bhakti is not just a technique followed in Hinduism. Its appeal is universal.
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