Bhakti Yoga – Principle and Practice

Bhakti means intense love or devotion to the Supreme Lord. The word ˜Bhakti’ comes from the root ˜Bhaj”, which means “to be attached to God” or ˜to get related to God”. The word “yoga'”refers to the way to connect or relate to God. Bhakti yoga is scientific and ultimately glorious. This article is a humble attempt to give some light on this great science.

Bhakti yoga aims at self-realization. Each one of us is completely different from our physical body. We identify with the physical body when we want to forget our real transcendental nature and our original relationship with God. Since the real nature of the self is to be constantly absorbed in an ecstatic loving relationship with God, the various practices of this yoga aim at awakening this relationship.

Practice and the Principle of Bhakti Yoga:

Bhakti yoga has been practiced for thousands of years according to the Vedic Scriptures. Some of the books that give the details of Bhakti yoga and its practice are: Bhagavad-gita As It Is, The Nectar of Instruction, Sri Isopanisad, Srimad-Bhagavatam, Caitanya-caritamrta and The Nectar of Devotion.

The Bhagavad Gita is the first text to explicitly use the word ˜Bhakti” to designate a religious path, which the Bhagavata Purana or Srimad Bhagavatam develops more elaborately.

In the Srimad Bhagavatam and the Vishnu Purana the nine forms of devotional practice are described:

  1. Sravana: Hearing of God’s Names and Glories
  2. Kirtana: Chanting the glories of the Supreme Lord
  3. Smarana: Remembrance of His Name and Presence
  4. Padasevana: Serving His Lotus feet
  5. Archana: Worshipping the Deity
  6. Vandana : Offering obeisance to the Lord
  7. Dasya: Becoming servant with God
  8. Sakya: Becoming Friend of the Lord.
  9. Atmanevedana: Surrendering oneself completely unto the Lord.

In any case the first and foremost principle of practicing Bhakti is to surrender to a bona fide spiritual master. Surrender means that one has to practice under guidance of superior authority and bona fide spiritual master is one who is practicing Bhakti Yoga for considerable amount of time and one who is himself a pure devotee of the Lord. Otherwise, Bhakti Yoga is very difficult to practice and there is every reason that one can be misled by illusion and fall back in worldly whirlpool. So it is of utmost important that one should humbly and submissively approach a bona fide authority to practice Bhakti Yoga.


Bhakti Yoga teaches who is the Supreme Lord, who are we and what is our relationship with the Supreme and how to get that relationship with Him. This is sum and substance of the Bhakti Yoga. One who practices Bhakti Yoga, he develops intense feelings towards the Lord which is called ˜Bhava” or mellow.

There are five kinds of Bhava in Bhakti: Shanta, Dasya, Sakhya, Vatsalya and Madhurya Bhavas. Examples of devotees exhibiting these bhavas are Shanta Bhava by Bhishma, Dasya Bhava by Hanuman, Sakya Bhava by Arjuna, Vatsalya Bhava by Yasoda and Madhurya Bhava by Radha and Mirabai.

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