Bhakti means love and loyalty to God – love and loyalty to creation, respect for all beings and their protection. Everyone can practice Bhakti Yoga, whether small or big, rich or poor, irrespective of the nation or religion he belongs to. The path of Bhakti Yoga takes us straight and safely towards our goal.
Bhakti yoga also includes the worship of some form of God. God is everywhere. God resides within and around us. It is as if we are connected to God by a perfect thread – the thread of love. God is the love of the world. Love and divine grace are all around us and flow through us, but we are not conscious of it. The moment this consciousness, this divine love is realized, from that moment one does not desire anything else. Then we understand the true meaning of God’s love.
A godless person is like a waterless fish, a bird without fins, a night without the moon and stars. Everybody needs love. Through this we feel safe and happy just like a child in the arms of his mother or a traveler feels at the end of a long painful journey.
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There are two types of devotion:
apara bhakti – ego soulful love
Para Bhakti – World Love
Whatever happens to him, the devotee accepts it as a gift from God. There is no desire or expectation, only complete surrender to the will of God. This devotee accepts the situation throughout his life only as the object presented to him by destiny. There is no fault in this, his only prayer is ‘God is your wish’.
However, before reaching this level of supreme love for God, our devotion is filled with egoistic thoughts. This means that we really love God, but we also wish for something from God. Many people turn to God for help when they are in pain or in trouble. Others pray for material goods, wealth, fame, livelihood, promotion. Yet we must always keep in mind that when we depart from this earth, we will give up everything and that is why nothing here has any real or eternal value. Spiritual seekers pray for wisdom and attainment of God. However, we often create an inner picture of God – what God is like from our point of view, what God should do now – and because of this we are not open and ready for divine revelation.
In the Bhakti Sutras, Narada Muni (sage) has described the nine elements of Bhakti Yoga:-
Satsang – good spiritual association
Hari Katha – Listening and Reading about God
God hymn – glorifying God
Mantra chanting – remembering the names of God
Shama Dum – control of the senses in relation to worldly objects
Respect to saints – To show respect to the people who have a dedicated life to God.
Ishwar Pranidhana – God’s refuge
There is no spiritual path without devotion. If a student of the school dislikes a subject of study, he/she is hardly able to complete the course. Similarly, when we have love and loyalty to our practice, the determination to keep on our path and always have recognition of our purpose, then only we can be able to solve all problems. We cannot have the companionship of God without love for all living beings and loyalty to God.