By Amruta Kulkarni, CYT 500
Many Hatha Yoga practitioners ask, “What is Bhakti Yoga?” Bhakti Yoga is the devotional practice of loving the Divine in order to merge with and become one with the essential nature of God. With this merging comes great bliss and liberation from the illusory and temporary attachments of this world. The devotion to the Divine may come in different cultural forms.
Bhakti Yoga originated from India, but the essence of the practice is found in the mystical heart of many different major religions such as Hinduism, Christianity and Islam. The Bhakti Yogi or Yogini, through an ardent and sustained practice of devotional chants, prayers, contemplations, rituals, and pujas, will eventually obtain oneness with God and the bliss of liberation.
The core experience of Bhakti Yoga is that the essential nature of all reality is comprised of love, and love is what comprises the essential nature of God. The deep inner longing for oneness with the Divine is what propels and catalyzes the devotional practices of a Bhakti Yogi or Yogini. At the core of this longing is a sense of separateness from the Divine.
The path of Bhakti Yoga is considered to be the super-highway of Yogic practices. It is reputed to be one of the surest ways to reach enlightenment and God realization. It is an incredibly uplifting and joyful practice that is built on the bittersweet pain of separation and longing. Many devotees who practice Bhakti Yoga have a Guru who is their guide on this path. The Guru becomes the light shining in the darkness and a magnet for the devotion of the disciple.
A Bhakti Yoga practice that is based on an authentic lineage with a true Guru will ultimately lead the disciple back to the Divine presence within his or her own being. In Bhakti Yoga, the devotee, the Guru and God all become united in an uninterrupted field of pulsating bliss and knowledge. The Bhakti Yogi is left with an unwavering experience that the very fabric of the universe is comprised of love, and that everything around us is the manifestation of that Divine energy.
In our fast-paced world, the practice of Bhakti Yoga is considered to be the creme-de-la-creme of Yogic practices. This path of devotional singing, meditations, prayers, rituals, and pujas most surely leads a dedicated practitioner to the heart of all spiritual practices, the Divinity residing in our own hearts. As Jesus said, “The Kingdom of God lies within.” This is both the experience and the goal of Bhakti Yoga practices.
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