What is Bhakti?

2 May , 2014  

Love is the most fundamental drive of every living entity. We cannot be happy without satisfying this desire to love.While pursuing love in our life , we find that it never seems to last. Or even if it lasts for a while, it becomes motivated or interrupted by some material causes. Our pursuit for love remains unsatisfied in our ‘human journey’. Seems like we know what true, uninterrupted and unconditional love is like. But we never seem to find it .Our own limitations and the limitations of the world block us in our search.
The Bhagavad-gita presents a picture of universal reality: we are eternal spiritual beings who have an intrinsic relationship with God. God whose love for us is unfailing. Bhakti is the essence of the eternal relationship we souls have with God. In our ‘human journey’, our Bhakti is covered by our material consciousness and misdirected away from God, towards the temporary things of this world. Therefore we are never able to fully experience the love God has for us. Our ‘human journey’ is an opportunity to reawaken that eternal bond with God. While many processes of yoga are off ered as a means to reconnect with God, the Bhagavad Gita recommends bhakti -yoga as the most effective and powerful spiritual path. It is the yoga of loving devotion, where the individual joyfully devotes himself to serving the Supreme Person with his mind, body and words.
The Bhakti Movement
In India, the second and first millennia BCE are known as the Vedic Period, named so due to the influence of the Vedas, a vast body of Sanskrit scripture. Large segments of the Vedas stress a gradual process of elevation trough a complex system of rites and rituals, the performance of which were reserved for an exclusive priesthood. Great emphasis was placed upon social ordering according to caste. It was widely believed that spiritual progress was to be achieved through the meticulous performance of ritual. The scripture that taught the rituals were in the Sanskrit language, which was only known to the priestly caste.
Beginning in the 6th century CE a new movement developed around the writings of mystics who extracted the devotional essence from the Vedas, de-emphasizing the particular formalities of ritual or caste. Prominent among these are the Alvars, twelve South Indian mystics who expressed their intimate love and longing for God through song and poetry. These devotional sentiments were gradually expanded upon, supported philosophically and organized into a method of devotional yoga by saintly philosophers such as Ramanuja and Madva. They were followed centuries later by prominent saints and teachers such as Sri Chaitanya, Sri Vallabha, Nimbarka, Meera Bai, Tukarama and many others. The widespread effect of the teachings of these saints eventually became known as the Bhakti Movement. By focusing on sincere devotion, rather than mere ritual, barriers of language and class distinctions were broken down. Over the centuries, the Bhakti Movement has gone on to promote devotion through philosophy and art, by ever expanding lineages, many of which still flourish today, each with their own unique contribution.
Bhakti Yoga And Process
There’s much more to loving God than just saying, “I love God.” We attain pure love for God through a gradual process that takes us through progressively higher realms of Bhakti.This is Bhakti Yoga- the acts of devotion we engage in to rekindle our love for God. Fortunately, we can begin the process at any point in life or wherever we are in our spiritual journey.


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