Bhakti Bhavana & Its Types

Before I start this blog-post, let me tell you what prompted me to write it.On February 09, 2020, “Guru Ravidas Jayanthi‘ event popped up on my mobile’s Calendar App. This rang a bell in my mind; my Yoga Guru at SVYASA Yoga University, Smt. Rashmi Bapat, while teaching us Narada Bhakti Sutras (NBS) course had mentioned that Ravidasji is the Guru of Meera Bai, a great devotee of Lord Krishna. Guru Rashmiji made her NBS lectures very interesting by narrating these devotees stories with so much enthusiasm.So, here I am, penning my understanding of Bhakti and its Bhavas that are so beautifully narrated in our scriptures.The Samskrit word Bhakti means attachment, participation, faith, love, devotion, worship, purity. Bhakti comes from the Samskrit root bhaj that means to adore or worship God. In SrimadBhagavadGita Adhyaya (i.e., Chapter) 12 named Bhakti Yoga, Lord Krishna emphasizes this path of devotion or love for a personal God, and worship of the unmanifest God, through intense study and meditation. He says devotional love or Sagun (with form) worship is an easier and more focused path than Nirgun (without form) worship. It also is more directly tied to Karma Yoga or the Yoga of Action. He teaches us through Arjuna as the medium that devotional love can be expressed by imbuing all action with devotional worship.Lord Krishna lists out the characteristics of a true devotee:

  • He / She will show love and compassion for everyone equally
  • He / She will have a calm attitude of detachment to the joys and sorrows of life.
  • He / She is indifferent to grief / happiness, desire, good / bad fortune.

Such people would be the dearest to Him.The Narada Bhakti Sutra is another scripture that extols the characteristics and power of Bhakti in 84 Sutras / Aphorisms. The 81st and 82nd Sutras emphasize the importance of Bhakti and lists out various forms of Bhakti Bhavana.NBS_Sutra81Meaning of Sutra # 81: In all the three periods of time i. e. , past, present and future, devotion alone weighs heaviest (most glorious), devotion alone weighs heaviest (most glorious).(Among the three truths-Jnana, Bhakti and Raja Yogas- Bhakti excels. )(Devotion of the Lord who is existing in the three periods of time in the form of Truth is the most glorious. Bhakti alone is the most glorious. )Repetition of the word “Gareeyasee” adds force. It glorifies Bhakti to the highest degree.NBS_Sutra82Meaning of Sutra # 82: Devotion, though one in kind, assumes eleven-fold forms or aspects based on its manifestation form:

  1. attachment to the attributes and greatness of God (guna-mahatma-asakti),
  2. attachment to His beauty (rupa-asakti),
  3. attachment to His worship (puja-asakti),
  4. attachment to His memory (Smarana-asakti),
  5. attachment to His service (Dasya-asakti),
  6. attachment to His friendship (Sakhya-asakti),
  7. attachment to parental affection towards Him (Vatsalya- asakti),
  8. attachment to Him as of a beloved wife (Kanta-asakti),
  9. attainment to self-dedication to Him (atma-nivedana-asakti),
  10. attachment to self-absorption (tanmaya-asakti), and
  11. attachment to permanent self-obliteration (parama-viraha-asakti)

To summarise, Narada Bhakti Sutra not also explains Bhakti, but also gives us a blueprint to develop Bhakti and to attain Ultimate Bliss:

  • Those who have understood the magnitude of human sufferings in this sense-universe
  • those who have realised that this world is unreal, impermanent, illusory, perishable, full of troubles, difficulties, miseries, pain, sorrow and tribulation and
  • those who desire to free themselves from the round of births and deaths with its concomitant evils of old age, diseases, etc.

should know what Bhakti is, how to develop Bhakti, who is God or Lord or Isvara, the relationship between God and man and the methods to realise God, or to approach Him or to attain God-Consciousness.

I am planning to write on each form of Bhakti in separate blog-posts in the near future.


हरि ॐ (Hari Om) ॐ शांति (Om Shanti)