Practices of Bhakti Yoga

As mentioned earlier, Bhakti Yoga appeals to my heart. Also, I find certain specific practices of Bhakti Yoga helping me practise it more effectively. These practices are described in Puranas

I was introduced to some of these puranas in my pre-teens and early teens. It was customary for elders to read such religious books and devote their life entirely to Bhakti Yoga. But my maternal grand father was not able to read in his old age. I used to fill the void sometimes by reading it out for him.

In my view, these puranas encapsulate great philosophical wisdom, presented in the form of story telling. It also embeds, at specific points, certain practices which may be adopted in daily life. That is, it appeals as a simple story on one side. At the same time, it holds gems of philosophical wisdom, as well as specific practices which could be used to adopt these in daily life for a discerning reader.

Of these practices, I have found practices of Bhakti as particularly interesting and effective.

i) Sravana

This is listening stories, songs etc which enhance devotion and devotional experiences. I have personally found these to have a special effect on the mind, instilling confidence

ii) Kīrtana

This is singing in praise of God. It could be as an individual or a group. I have found this helping to break out of inhibitions and stay focused

iii) Smaraṇa

This is thinking about God.

I believe there is only one God, all powerful, ominipotent and all pervasive. I believe that, true to Advaita philosophy, God is within me and in oneness with me. Yet, I find it difficult to think about God without a specific form and characteristics. I think this is where concept of personal God comes in; some form which we can easily connect with

iv) Paada sevana

This is about rendering service. What service? Service of mankind; helping anyone who is in need and whom you can help. The spirit is, Naraseva is Naraayanaseva. That is, serving man is serving God

Many perceive Bhakti Yoga as devotion to the exclusion of everything else. In my view, it is not necessarily so. Prahlada, who is considered to be an epitome of Bhakti, is believed to have lived king, fulfilling his duties in its full earnestness. That is, Bhakti does not call for negation of Karma. Rather it just means devotion to God and a complete surrender to his will.

v) Archana

This is worshiping God. It is generally done with an image of God, or any symbol that represents God. It is done according to some pre-defined rituals

vi) Vandana

This is about paying homage to God. It is also done, in general, to a personal God yet it involve God beyond all confines. That is, God is perceived to be Avyakta (without any form or shape) yet at the same time Vyaktaroopa (with specific form and shape, depending on the personal God)

vii) Daasya

This is about submission in service of God.

Is there difference between Paadasevana and Daasya? In my view, the difference is in the mind. Paadasevana is only an act while Daasya is an attitude. In other words, Paadasevana is an act that is performed and ego might still exist when rendering service. But, in case of Daasya, one declares himself as servant of God and indicates conscious effort to

viii) Sakhya

This is about considering God as a friend.

In this case, one considers everyone is friend, God in everyone and, thus, God is a friend

ix) Aatmanivedana

This is a complete surrender of the self.

This is a stage of experiencing oneness with God whether distinction vanishes, and Bhakti is beyond definitions and relations.

I can perceive what this stage could be but, honestly, I have not reached a stage where I could practice this

2 Responses to “Practices of Bhakti Yoga”

  1. Dr.Mahesh Chandra Panda Says:

    I have the personal feeling that attending the Satsanga in a group of devotees enhance and augment the Bhakti Yoga.

  2. Pilgrimage to Sabarimala, and Bhakti Yoga « My world, my philosophy Says:

    […] My world, my philosophy In search of the absolute « Practices of Bhakti Yoga […]

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