The highest path to enlightenment is Raja Yoga. Raja Yoga is the practice of a combination of three of the eight limbs of yoga, as set out by Patanjali. The three are Jnana (knowledge, study,) Seva (service directly to the God and guru or serving others in the spirit of serving the Divine,) and Bhakti (Devotion to the Divine.) The fastest path is Bhakti, because the heart always recognizes the Divine and only wants union with it.
The Yoga Of Love
by Thomas Ashley-Farrand/Namadeva Acharya
The Sanskrit word for divine love is Prema. A word that most of us are more familiar with is bhakti. Bhakti is really the attitude and state of devotion, of which there are two main types:
- The lower kind is called Gauni Bhakti. It may be recognized by its qualifications and immediate requests. “I Love you, God; now please give me, thou, this and give me, thou that.”
- The highest kind is called Parabhakti. This is a divine love affair of many different types and characteristics. Here are some of the kinds of relationships that bhakti produces:
Five Traditional Forms Of Bhakti
- Shanta Bhakti. The person in this state is calm and peaceful. This is a bhakta without fire, but with a deep and nourishing wellspring of divine peace.
- Dasya Bhakti. A person of active nature is perfect for this form of Bhakti. It is divine service in the highest sense. One thinks and becomes the “Servant of the Divine.” Everything is done in a spirit of service to God. It is often said that if one becomes what is called an “accepted servant of God” that God becomes the servant of this person because all they ever do is serve the divine in people, animals, plants and the Earth. God, it is said, attends such a person personally.
- Sakhya Bhakti is Divine Friendship. Arjuna knew who Krishna was, but still their relationship was one of Divine Friendship. Who could be a better friend than God?
- Vatsalya Bhakti. Here one loves God as one’s child. Yashoda, the woman who raised Krishna, and Kausalya, Rama’s mother, had this relationship to God. In this relationship, similar to the role of a parent,
– The child is always the receiver.
– The parent never asks or wants anything from the child.
– All is sacrificed for the young child.
– The parents are not in awe of the child, yet the meditation is ongoing.
- Madhura Bhava Bhakti is a divine relationship based on the sweetness of love.
– What makes a man or woman forget all else like the state of love?
– What can captivate the mind like nothing else? Love.
In the philosophy and practice of Bhakti Yoga, there are nine different approaches to God through bhakti, called Nava Bhakti. They overlap, as you will see. They are found in most texts and stories where bhakti is prevalent. They are as follows:
- Satsang: Association with devotees of like mind.
- Shravana: Listening to the stories and glories of God and the Great Ones.”
- Seva: Service to the guru, spiritual preceptor, genuine teacher, or avatar.
- Kirtan: Singing songs in praise of God
- Japa and Bhajan: Chanting and more singing to God, as well as chanting the mantras/mystical formulas that are provided.
- Control of the senses and selfless service to Humanity, seeing God in All.
- Seeing God everywhere and in everyone.
- Finding no fault in anyone, being contented with one’s lot.
- Surrender: To the Will of God (Prapatti)