The word ‘bhakti’ means devotion, and Bhakti yoga may be defined as devotional yoga. It is considered to be the most natural path for those who are seeking emotional well-being and fulfillment. The focus of Bhakti yoga is to surrender oneself in the face of the Divine through worship, prayer, chanting and singing. This yoga is based on the doctrine “Love is God and God is Love”.
With Bhakti yoga, one meditates by visualizing, thinking and feeling that his Lord is sitting or standing before him. He then shares his love, adoration and deepest thoughts and concerns with his Lord until there is a continual flow of awareness moving between himself and his Lord. This results in a superconscious state of awareness known as a bhava which can improve the character and bring about more frequent moments of higher consciousness. With further practice, a sense of a permanent relationship with his Lord can be achieved.
Rupa Gosvami wrote the Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu in which nine primary activities of bhakti are detailed and include the following:
- Hearing about the Lord, including songs and chants with God’s name as well as stories from scripture.
- Glorifying the Lord by means of describing the all-attractive features of God.
- Remembering the Lord which is achieved through internal mediation on the Lord and his from, activities, names and/or personality.
- Serving the Lotus Feet of the Lord which is achieved through physical service.
- Worshipping the Lord.
- Offering Prayers to the Lord, including any form of prayer intended to please God.
- Serving the Lord, which is comprised of any service offered for the Lord’s pleasure.
- Creating a Friendship with the Lord, achieved through building a loving internal relationship with God.
- Surrendering All unto the Lord, including one’s thoughts, deeds and actions.