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WHAT IS BHAKTI YOGA? WHAT ARE THE NINE MODES OF BHAKTI?THE FOUR PATHS OF YOGA-05


MEANING OF BHAKTI YOGA;-

06 FACTS;-

1-Bhakti yoga is one of the main paths of yoga that a practitioner can follow on the path to Self-realization and is the path most followed in India. The name comes from the Sanskrit root word, bhaj, meaning "to adore/worship God." Thus, it is the path of love and devotion. Bhakti is sometimes described as “love for love’s sake.” It is also sometimes described as the yoga of the mind/intellect.

2-The concept of Bhakti yoga is described in the Hindu sacred texts, the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads. It involves surrendering to the Divine or universal Consciousness.

3-The intention when practicing Bhakti yoga is to devote one's self to the Divine that is in everything and, thus, to realize the union of the individual self with God. It is motivated by a love of God rather than a fear of negative repercussions or punishment and has been described as the sweetest of the yogic paths since it develops love and acceptance for all beings.

4-Some Bhakti yogis may worship a specific deity, while others may take the broader approach of devoting to the Divine in everything. In Hinduism, there are three main groups of Bhakti yogis who worship specific Gods:

4-1-Shaivists devote their worship to Shiva and his family.

4-2-Vaishnavists devote their worship to Vishnu and his avatars.

4-3-Shaktists devote their worship to devis such as Durga and Kali.

All three groups have absolute respect for the other groups and their gods while focusing on their own primary gods.

5-The Bhakti path of yoga is a path of the heart and practitioners may use chanting, devotional mantras, prayer, kirtan and rituals as part of their worship. Historically, this was a more accessible path for women and those from lower Status, in Hindu society for whom the education required for more studious paths of yoga was not readily available.

6-It is said that achieving union with God through Bhakti yoga requires patience, determination, and absolute surrender and devotion to the path, not just a superficial attempt at worship.

WHAT IS NATURE OF BHAKTI ?-

06 FACTS;-

1-Bhakti is resting in God. Bhakti is the flow of devotion like the flow of a river. Bhakti is continuity of devotion, just as there is continuity in the flow of oil from one vessel to another vessel. Bhakti is the attraction of the needle to the magnet.

2-Bhakti is love for the sake of love. The devotee wants God and God alone. There is neither selfish expectation nor fear. Is the son afraid of his father though he is a judge? Is the wife afraid of her husband? So also, a devotee entertains not the least fear of God. The fear of retribution(punishment )vanishes in him. He feels, believes, conceives and imagines that his chosen deity is an ocean of love.

3-Bhakti transmutes man into divinity. It intoxicates the devotee with divine love and gives him eternal satisfaction. It makes him perfect, weans(to gradually eliminate that thing from your life) his mind from sensual objects and makes him rejoice in God.

4-Emotional excitement is not devotion to God. Devotion is pure love, Fanaticism(unreasoning zeal) is not devotion, but frenzy, mere excitement. Bhakti is not mere emotionalism, but is the tuning of the will as well as the intellect towards the divine. It is supreme love of God, and later blossoms into knowledge of the self. It leads to immortality. Bhakti is the direct approach to the ideal through the heart. Love is natural to everybody.

5-Bhakti can be practised under all conditions and by all alike. Study of the Vedas (the revealed scriptures of the Hindus, containing the Upanishads), learning, austere penance and brilliant intellect are not needed for the attainment of bhakti or devotion. What is wanted is constant and loving remembrance of God, coupled with faith. That is the reason why the path of devotion is available for everyone.

6-Bhakti is easier than any other way of approach to God. In jnana (self-knowledge) and yoga, there is the risk of a fall. In the path of devotion, there is no risk as the devotee receives full support and help from God.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BHAKTI & JNANA?

08 FACTS;-

1-Those who tread(step) the path of jnana and yoga are liable to become proud of their powers and wisdom. Bhaktas are humble, humility being the foundation of bhakti yoga.

2-Jnana yoga is the yoga of wisdom. It is the path of analysis and rejection. It is the path of endless negation (contrary) a very difficult path.

3-Raja yoga also is difficult. It is like stilling the waves of the ocean. You will have to still all the thought-waves. Karma yoga is also difficult. It is like climbing to the highest peak and tremendous will-power is needed.

4-Bhakti yoga alone is easy. The Lord is stretching his hands to lift you up from the mire of births and deaths, but you will have to grasp his hands firmly. One thing is absolutely essential here; you should not have any other thought than that of God and God alone.

5-A devotee contracts, while a vedantin expands. The former contracts and enters the Lord through self-surrender, while the latter expands and becomes one with Brahman through assertion and identification.

6-The fruit of bhakti is jnana. Jnana intensifies bhakti. Even sages like Shankara, and Shukadev took to bhakti after realisation to enjoy the sweetness of loving relationship with God.

7-Knowledge or wisdom will dawn by itself when you practise bhakti yoga. Bhakti is the pleasant, smooth, direct road to God. Bhakti is sweet in the beginning, in the middle and in the end. It gives the highest, everlasting bliss.

8-Love the divine in your heart, for this is the immediate way to the kingdom of God. Pray to the Lord, sing his glory, recite his name and become a channel for his grace. Seek his will, do his will, surrender to the Lord. He will become your charioteer on the field of life. He will drive your chariot well and you will reach the destination, the abode of immortal bliss.

WHAT ARE THE NINE MODES OF BHAKTI YOGA SADHANA?-

In the Srimad Bhagavata and the Vishnu Purana it is told that the nine forms of Bhakti are Sravana (hearing of God's Lilas and stories), Kirtana (singing of His glories), Smarana (remembrance of His Name and presence), Padasevana (service of His feet), Archana (worship of God), Vandana (prostration to the Lord), Dasya (cultivating the Bhava of a servant with God), Sakhya (cultivation of the friend-Bhava) and Atmanivedana (complete surrender of the self).

A devotee can practise any method of Bhakti which suits him best. Through that he will attain Divine illumination.

1-MEANING OF SRAVANA;-

A-Sravana is hearing of Lord's Lilas. Sravana includes hearing of God's virtues, glories, sports and stories connected with His divine Name and Form. The devotee gets absorbed in the hearing of divine stories and his mind merges in the thought of Divinity, it cannot think of undivine things. The mind loses, as it were, its charm for the world. The devotee remembers God only, even in dream.

B-Sri Adi Shankaracharya says, "The company of the wise, even for a moment, becomes the boat to cross across the ocean of Samsara." Without Satsanga, Sadhana does not become perfect and strong. The fort of Sadhana should be built on the foundation of Satsanga. Mere austerities are not the end of Sadhana. Satsanga illumines the devotee and removes his impurities. It is only then that subtle truths are grasped well by the devotee.

C-Lord Krishna says to Uddhava that nothing but Satsanga alone can put an end to all worldly attachments. In the Bhagavata Mahatmya it is told that the best Dharma in this world is to hear Lord's glories. For, thereby, one attains to the Divine Abode.

2-MEANING OF KIRTANA;-

A-Kirtana is singing of Lord's glories. The devotee is thrilled with Divine Emotion. He loses himself in the love of God. He gets horripilation

(the erection of hairs on the skin due to cold, fear, or excitement) in the body due to extreme love for God. He weeps in the middle when thinking of the glory of God. His voice becomes choked, and he flies into a state of divine Bhava.

B-The devotee is ever engaged in Japa of the Lord's Name and describing His glories to one and all. Wherever he goes he begins to sing the praise of God. He requests all to join his Kirtana. He sings and dances in ecstasy. He makes others also dance.

C-Such practices should be the outcome of a pure heart, and they should not be merely a show. God knows the inner secret of all and none can cheat Him. There should be perfect straightforwardness and all his actions should be the natural outpouring from his heart. This is the easiest of all modes of approach to God.

D-In the Kali Yuga, iron age, Kirtana alone is the best Yoga-'Kalau Kesavakirtanam.' This is the prescribed method of devotion for this age. The mind is ever intent upon singing Lord's Names and glories and it has no occasion to take interest in things of the world. Day and night the devotee feels the presence of God and thins out his ego. He becomes Sattvic and pure at heart.

3- MEANING OF SMARANA;-

A-Smarana is remembrance of the Lord at all times. This is unbroken memory of the Name and Form of the Lord. The mind does not think of any object of the world, but is ever engrossed in thinking of the glorious Lord alone. The mind meditates on what is heard about the glories of God and His virtues, Names, etc., and forgets even the body and contents itself in the remembrance of God, just as Dhruva or Prahlada did.

B-Even Japa is only remembrance of God and comes under this category of Bhakti. Remembrance also includes hearing of stories pertaining to God at all times, talking of God, teaching to others what pertains to God, meditation on the attributes of God, etc. Remembrance has no particular time. God is to be remembered at all times, without break, so long as one has got his consciousness intact. Right up from his getting up from sleep in the morning, until he is completely overpowered by sleep in the night, a person is to remember God.

C-He has no other duty in this world except remembrance of God. Remembrance of God alone can destroy all worldly Samskaras. Remembrance of God alone can turn away the mind from sense-objects. Generally the mind runs extrovert. But remembrance of God makes it introvert and does not allow it to run to particular objects of the world. Remembrance of God is a very difficult method of Sadhana. It is not possible to remember God at all times. The mind will cheat the person.

D-He will think that he is meditating on God, but actually he will be dreaming of some object of the world or something connected with name and fame. Remembrance is equal to concentration or meditation. All the qualities which a Raja Yogin prescribes for the practice of meditation should be acquired by a Bhakta who wants to practise Smarana-Bhakti. Smarana is swimming against the forceful current of the river of Maya. Smarana leads to exclusive meditation on God, as is done in Raja Yoga.

4-MEANING OF PADASEVANA;-

A-Padasevana is serving the Lord's feet. Actually this can be done only by Lakshmi or Parvati. No mortal being has got the fortune to practise this method of Bhakti for the Lord is not visible to the physical eyes. But it is possible to serve the image of God in idols and better still, taking the whole humanity as God. This is Padasevana.

B-Padasevana is service of the sick. Padasevana is service of the poor. Padasevana is service of the whole humanity at large. The whole universe is only Virat-Svarupa. Service of the world is service of the Lord.

Service of the Lord's feet can be done through formal worship to Murtis or idols in temples or to a mental image of God.

5-MEANING OF ARCHANA;-

A-According to Vishnu-Rahasya,Archana is worship of the Lord. "Those who perform the worship of Vishnu in this world, attain the immortal and blissful state of Moksha." Worship can be done either through an image or a picture or even a mental form. The image should be one appealing to the mind of the worshipper.

B-Worship can be done either with external materials or merely through an internal Bhava or strong feeling. The latter one is an advanced form of worship which only men of purified intellect can do. Worship should be done according to the rules laid down in the Varnashrama-Dharma or in the case of advanced devotees worship can be done in any manner they like. The purpose of worship is to please the Lord, to purify the heart through surrender of the ego and love of God.

C-Serving the poor people and worshipping saints is also worship of the Virat-Svarupa of the Lord. The Lord appears in all forms. He is everything. The scriptures declare that the Lord alone appears as the sentient( living )and the insentient beings. The devotee should have Narayana-Bhava or Isvara-Bhava in all beings. He should consider all creatures, down even to the worm as merely God. This is the highest form of Worship.

6 - MEANING OF VANDANA;-

A-Vandana is prayer and prostration. Humble prostration touching the earth with the eight limbs of the body (Sashtanga-Namaskara), with faith and reverence, before a form of God, or prostration to all beings knowing them to be the forms of the One God, and getting absorbed in the Divine Love of the Lord is termed prostration to God.

B-The Bhagavata says: "The sky, air, fire, water, earth, stars, planets, the cardinal points (directions), trees, rivers, seas and all living beings constitute the body of Sri Hari. The devotee should bow before everything in absolute devotion, thinking that he is bowing before God Himself."

C-Lord Krishna says to Uddhava: "Giving no attention to those who laugh in ridicule, forgetting the body and insensible to shame, one should prostrate and bow down to all beings, even to the dog, the ass, the Chandala and the cow. All is Myself, and nothing is but Myself."

The ego or Ahankara is effaced out completely through devout prayer and prostration to God. The Divine Grace descends upon the devotee and man becomes God.

7- MEANING OF DASYA

A-Dasya-Bhakti is the love of God through servant-sentiment. To serve God and carry out His wishes, realising His virtues, nature, mystery and glory, considering oneself as a slave of God, the Supreme Master is Dasya-Bhakti.

B-Serving and worshipping the Murtis in temples, sweeping the temples, meditating on God, and mentally serving Him like a slave, serving the saints and the sages, serving the devotees of God, serving the poor and the sick people who are forms of God, is also included in Dasya-Bhakti.

C-To follow the words of the scriptures, to act according to the injunctions (instruction )of the Vedas, considering them to be direct words of God, is Dasya-Bhakti. Association with and service of love-intoxicated devotees and service of those who have knowledge of God is Dasya-Bhakti. The purpose behind Dasya-Bhakti is to be ever with God in order to offer services to Him and win His Divine Grace and attain thereby Immortality.

8- MEANING OF SAKHYA

A-Sakhya-Bhava is cultivation of friend-sentiment with God. The inmates of the family of Nandagopa cultivated this Bhakti. Arjuna cultivated this kind of Bhakti. The Bhagavata says: "Oh, how wonderful is the fortune of the people of Vraja, of cowherd Nanda whose dear friend is the perfect, eternal Brahman of Absolute Bliss!".

B-To be always with the Lord, to treat Him as one's own relative or a friend, belonging to one's own family, to be in His company at all times, to love Him as one's own Self, is Sakhya-Bhava of Bhakti-Marga.

C-The devotee of Sakhya-Bhava takes up with eagerness any work of the Lord leaving aside even the most important and urgent and pressing work, assuming an attitude of neglect towards personal work, and totally concerning himself with the love of the Lord. Such a love is developed towards God instead of towards man. Physical love is turned into spiritual love. There is a transformation of the mundane into the Eternal.

9- MEANING OF ATMA-NIVEDANA

A-Atma-Nivedana is self-surrender. In the Vishnu-Sahasranama it is said: "The heart of one who has taken refuge in Vasudeva, who is wholly devoted to Vasudeva, gets entirely purified, and he attains Brahman, the Eternal."The devotee offers everything to God, including his body, mind and soul. He keeps nothing for himself. He loses even his own self. He has no personal and independent existence. He has given his self for God. He has become part and parcel of God. God takes care of him and God treats him as Himself.

B-Grief and sorrow, pleasure and pain, the devotee treats as gifts sent by God and does not attach himself to them. He considers himself as a puppet of God and an instrument in the hands of God. He does not feel egoistic, for he has no ego. His ego has gone over to God. It is not his duty to take care of his wife, children, etc., for he himself has no independent existence apart from God. God will take care of all.

C-He knows how to lead the world in the right path. One need not think that he is born to lead the world. God is there who will look to everything which man cannot even dream of. He has no sensual craving, for he has no body as it is offered to God. He does not adore or love his body for it is God's business to see to it. He only feels the presence of God and nothing else. He is fearless, for God is helping him at all times. He has no enemy for he has given himself up to God who has no enemies or friends.

D-He has no anxiety for he has attained everything by attaining the grace of God. He has not even the thought of salvation; rather he does not want salvation even; he merely wants God and nothing but God. He is satisfied with the love of God for by that there is nothing that is not attained. Nothing is left to be attained, when God has sent His grace upon the devotee .

E-The devotee does not want to become sugar but taste sugar. There is pleasure in tasting sugar, but not in becoming sugar itself. So the devotee feels that there is supreme joy more in loving God than becoming God. God shall take complete care of the devotee. "I am Yours," says the devotee.

Bhava is the main basis of Rasa.

WHAT IS RASA(essence)?

03 FACTS;-

1-The relish of eternal Bliss which the devotee enjoys during his ecstatic state of Bhava Samadhi is called Rasa.Rasa is of the essence of Lord Krishna. Rasa is the nectarine transcendental Bliss. Lord Krishna is the fountain-source of Rasa.

Taste the Krishna-Bhakti-Rasa through love and attain immortality.

2-Bhakti is intense devotion towards God. It is love ( Prema) of Prabhu. Dedication and faith (Sraddha and Visvas) are the incipient (beginning to happen) stages of devotion. They develop into Bhakti. Later on faith is the most important thing in the path of devotion.

WHERE DOES THE GOD LIVE ?

03 FACTS;-

1-Where is God? Is He only in the temples, churches or Musjids? No. Is He only in the four Vedas or Upavedas or six Vedangas or six schools of philosophy or eighteen Puranas or sixty-four sciences? ‘No’. Is He in the places of pilgrimage or Tirthas alone? No. No. No. Where is He then?

2-ACCORDING to Gita ,''Wisdom, the object of Wisdom, seated in the hearts of all.” He is not very far. He is quite close to you. Subtler than the subtlest, greater than the greatest, He is located in the cavity of your heart, in the innermost recesses or chambers, the Hridaya Kamala.''

3-ACCORDING to Katha Upanishad ,'' Not by arguments, not by extreme intelligence, not by the voracious and wide study of scriptures, will you reach God. You can reach Him by sincere Sadhana or ascetic spiritual practices. Avoid wrangling (argument) and vain quibbling(complain). Make genuine efforts''.

HOW CAN WE ACQUIRE & CULTIVATE BHAKTI? -

10 FACTS;-

1-God looks upon all with an equal eye. We all know how Sri Ramachandra ate the fruits already tasted by the Bhilini Sabari. Sudama’s grains are more welcome to Lord Krishna than the most sumptuous (luxurious)feast that can be offered by a mighty potentate on this earth. What He wants is your loving heart. He neither wants a big temple nor rich presents from you.

2-Bhakti can be acquired and cultivated. Constant Satsanga with devotees and Bhagavatas, repetition of His Name, Sri Ram, Sita Ram, Hari Om, etc., constant remembrance of the Lord, prayer, study of religious books such as the Ramayana, the Bhagavata, Hari Kirtan, service of Bhaktas, etc., can infuse Bhakti in your heart.

3-Lust, anger, greed, Moha, pride, jealousy, hatred, egoism, desire for power, name and fame, hypocrisy are all obstacles in the way of Bhakti Yoga.

4-Remove lust by entertaining pure thoughts; anger by love, Kshama, etc.; greed by charity, honesty, disinterestedness; Moha by Viveka; pride by humility (Namrata, Vinaya); jealousy by magnanimity,( nobility and Mudita); hatred by love; and egoism by unconditioned, unreserved and ungrudging self-surrender to the Lord, Atmanivedana or Saranagati.

5-Pray fervently like Prahlada. Sing His Name like Radha. Weep in solitude like Mira on account of Viraha Agni. Do Kirtan like Lord Gauranga. Sing Bhajan like Ram Prasad of Bengal. Dance in Divine ecstasy like Chaitanya Maha Prabhu and enter into Bhava Samadhi. Repeat His Name like Valmiki, Tukaram or Ram Das.

6-Be up and doing, my dear friends, in spiritual Sadhana, Bhajan, etc. Never waste a single minute. Wasting time is the highest sin. Lord Rama will surely crown your efforts with success.

7-Combine all the love you cherish towards all worldly objects, husband/wife, son, wealth, property, relatives, friends and then apply this combined love towards God. You will realise in this very second.

8-Repeat His name 200 Malas daily (200x108=21,600 times). Sing His praise. Do Hari Kirtan. Repeat His Stotras and hymns. Live in Ayodhya, Brindavan, Pandharpur, Mathura for some months. Control the Indriyas. Eat simple food. Wear simple clothing. Lead a simple, natural life. You will develop Bhakti soon. 9-Cultivate dispassion (Vairagya) towards sensual objects. Have a vision for objects that Objects are unreal, perishable. They are attended with various sorts of pains and miseries. Vairagya will come by itself.Passion( Raga )for objects is an enemy of Bhakti.

10-Repeat the formulae “I am yours . All are yours . .” Have perfect self-surrender. Then only you will have Darshan of God. Do not keep any desires for you. Destroy egoism completely. A Bhakta gets Salokya, Sameepya and Sayujya Mukti. He lives near God. He serves God. He enjoys all His Aishvaryas. He gets Krama Mukti. In the end he gets Jnana.

WHAT ARE THE FIVE KINDS OF LIBERATION?

“There are five kinds of liberation:- SALOKYA, SAMIPYA, SARUPYA, SARSTI, & SAYUJYA.

1-SALOKYA;-means that after material liberation one is promoted to the planet where the Supreme Personality of Godhead resides.

2-SAMIPYA;- means remaining an associate of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

3-SARUPYA;- means attaining a four-handed form exactly like that of the Lord.

4-SARSTI ;-means attaining opulences like those of the Supreme Lord,

5-SAYUJYA;- means merging into the Brahman effulgence of the Lord. These are the five types of liberation.

CAN WE ACQUIRE GOD THROUGH JAPA ?

1-Japa is the repetition of any Mantra or Name of the Lord. In this Kaliyuga, Japa is an easy way for God-realisation. Tukaram, Dhruva, Valmiki, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Narsi Mehta, Gauranga, Ramdas, Mira—all had attained salvation by uttering the name of God. Why can't we?Japa is an important Anga of Yoga.

2-Any Mantra is powerful. It is a mass of radiant energy. Japa is of three kinds:

(1) Vaikhari or verbal with Ucchara.

(2) Upamsu with humming sound.

(3) Manasika wherein the lips do not move. It is done with the mind and mind alone.

3-Upamsu brings fruits thousand times more than that of Vaikhari. Manasika brings fruits crores of times than Vaikhari.

4-Mind wants varieties, new sensations. It gets disgusted with monotony. Just as you want brinjal vegetable today, Cheese tomorrow and cauliflower day after tomorrow, the mind wants varieties in Japa also; otherwise it becomes dull. It refuses to work.

5-Do Vaikhari for some time, then Upamsu for some time and then Manasika for some time. The repetition of a Mantra serves as a gate-keeper. When the mind runs away, the repetition of the Mantra will at once tell you that some other evil-intruding thoughts have entered the mind.

BENEFITS OF JAPA;-

There is Mantra Shakti and Mantra Chaitanya in every Mantra. It changes the mental substance from passion to purity, from Rajas into Sattva. It calms, strengthens the mind. It makes the mind introspective(Antarmukha). It checks the outgoing tendencies of the mind. It eradicates all kinds of evil thoughts and inclinations. It destroys Vasanas and reduces the force of thought. Eventually it leads to the direct Darshan of God or Ishta Devata. Japa purifies the mind, induces dispassion9Vairagya), destroys desires(Vasanas) and brings you face to face with God.

INSTRUCTIONS ON JAPA;-

1-Have Suddha, Sattvic Bhava when you repeat the Mantra. Repeat the Mantra at least 21,600 times daily, to correspond with the 21,600 Soham breaths.

2-You must do the Japa regularly. The shorter the Mantra the greater is the concentration. Of all the Mantras, OM ,OM ,OM, is the best. It is easy to repeat also. If you are tired of repeating the Mantra at one stroke, have three or more sittings; from morning 4 to 7, evening 4 to 5 and night 6 to 8.

3-Repeat the Mantra very quickly for some time and when you find that the mind is wandering much then repeat it slowly. The golden rule is to repeat the Mantra neither too slow nor too quick. Observe the happy medium.

4-Everyone of you should have a separate meditation room. Make a small enclosure in a corner of a room with screen and sit for Japa if you cannot manage to get a separate room. Do not allow anybody to frequent the place. Both morning and night sit there regularly for 10 minutes. Gradually increase the time as much as you can. This is very, very important.

5-In this Kali Yuga when rigid Hatha Yoga Kriyas are difficult to be performed owing to poor physique of people and when people do not possess sharp intellect and power of inflection and ratiocination, Japa and Kirtan are easy methods for Self-realisation. RAM KRISHANA of Bengal had Darshan of Mother Kali through Kirtan alone.Sri hari“I dwell not in Vaikuntha, nor in the hearts of Yogins; but I dwell there where my Bhaktas sing of Me, O Narada!”

6-Select any one of the Mantras. Repeat it with concentration from 10 to 50 Malas from 4 to 6 a.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. regularly, everyday.

The ultimate goal in the practice of Bhakti yoga is to reach the state of rasa (essence), a feeling of pure bliss achieved in the devotional surrender to the Divine.....SHIVOHAM.....