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Bhakti – Yoga
Yoga now, is universally acclaimed as a panacea for mental and physical diseases. It is the best form of physio – therapy and by its inclusion of meditation, Bhakti Yoga, etc, helps in controling the mind.
Bhakti yoga is one of the branches of yoga. Devotion to God has long been emphasized in our vast religious literature. Worshipping the God by several ways has always been the theme of our ancient treatises – the vedas, the Upanishads and of course, ‘Gita’.
Bhakti yoga is more relevant now than ever. The world today is competitive, fast and full of tension, anger, confusion and depression. The spiritual path to calm the mind is Bhakti – Yoga. It is not a commercial transaction between God and men. Or it is not meant for praying to God only when a man is struck with problems.
The existence of God can not be proved by logic nor is it a blind faith. For the non – believers, God is a stone. For the believers, they see God in stone. For the believers, God is omnipresent, omniscient and omni potent. Without Him, world does not exist. God is the meaning of Universe.
Bhakti yoga is the practice of devotion to God. According to Sri Ramanuja, the practice of Bhakti, consiots of seven stages, namely
The seven stages of Bhakti Yoga
Viveka – Taking sattvic food. The food must be pure, and clean and must be prepared hygienically.
Vimoha – The ‘Bhakta’ (devotee) must be free from worldly desires must give up desires for the objects of the senses. What wealth that comes in the proper way, as a just reward for honest work can be accepted.
Abhyasa – Think of God frequently, chant his name, meditate on God, listen, to or read His gospel etc.
Kriya – Preformance of the duties as ordained by the ‘sastras’,
Kalyana – Be kind to all living things, Do not hurt others either in deed or in thought. Practice of virtues like truth and honesty, avoid greediness, Do not covet other man’s property, Be charitable as far as possible and according to your means. Mind, talk and body should act as one.
Anavasada – Keep the mind peace ful and relaxed, Do not worry, do not get disheartened for anything, Try to be tranquil, always
Anuddharsa – Do not get into a state of extreme feelings. When good things happen, do not get over elated. When things go wrong, do not get in to deep depression. Consider these events as God’s will and accept with equanimity.
Bhakti yoga is not merely devotion to God. It is a special yoga.
Some ‘ Sastras’ prescribe another set of Ashtanga yoga for carrying out Bhakti yoga. These are
Yama – The five yamas are Ahimsa ( Non – harming), Satya ( Honesty, truthfullness), Brahmacharya ( Right use of sexuality), Asteya ( Non – stealing) and Aparigraha ( Non – possessiveness).
Niyamas:- Chant vedas, Be clean and neat. Whatever happens in the world around, be unperturbed. Do penance. Keep thinking of God, always.
Asana:- Adopb correct posture while sitting for meditation.
Pranayama:- Control of Prana ( breath)
Pratyahara:- Control of senses, Direct senses to concentrate only in God, ignoring worldly pleasures.
Dharana:- Focus thoughts to concentrate on the glory of God.
Adding Bhakti yoga to these seven “Angas” makes the above “Ashtanga ( Eight) yoga”.
Persons desirous of practising Bhakti yoga, besides the above mentioned procedures / ways, have to carry out
‘Pancha ( five) Maya yagnam’. ‘yagnam’ means sacritice or worship.
Brahma yagnam :- Recite vedas every day.
Deva yagnam :- To satisty “devas”, worship them.
Pithru yagnam :- To satisty fore fathers
Bootha yagnam :- To satisty all living things
Manushya yagnam :- Hospitality – Be courteons to guests.
Karma yoga and Jnana yoga take us to Bhakti yoga. Practice of Bhakit yoga takes one to “Molsha” the eternal bliss.
Practising meditation and “Upasana” alone may not satisty the demands of Bhakti yoga. The following ‘karmas’ are to be followed:-
Do pooja daily. Go to temple every day or as many days as possible. Worship God with Tulasi and flowers.
Carry out ‘yagnas’ as enjoined by the Vedas. Carry out the “Karma ” ordained by the ‘Sastras’.
Practice penance ( Tapas) like ‘fasting’. Chant mantras ( Japa)
Control your senses. Bring them up to focus on God and good deeds. Practice moral values.
Earn money by honest means. Be charitable and donate a part of your earnings to deserving poor.
Pilgrimage:- Go and visit holy places often.
Ofter whaever food that has been prepared in the house to God, first.
Have a ‘Guru’ to guide you to proper worship of God.
10. Associate your self with like minded, god – fearing persons.
Surrender your self to God.
Excerpts from ‘Gita’
For, those who dedicate all actions to me, hold me as their supreme goal, intent on me, and worship me meditating on me with exclusive devotion;
Of those whose minds are thus focused on me, I become soon their saviour from the ocean of mortal life.
Focus your mind on me alone; and let your Buddhi enter into me. Then, you will live in me alone; there is no doubt.
If now you are unable to focus your mind on me, then seek to reach me, O Arjuna, by the practice of repetition.
If you are incapable of even this practice of repetition, then devote yourself to my deeds ( service). For even by working for my sake, you will attain perfection.
Excerpts from the commentaries on the ‘Gita’ by Sri Yamuna charya
Bhakti yoga is abidance in meditation and other form of adoration with single minded love for the supreme being.
The three yogas, Karma yoga, Jnana yoga and Bhakti yoga are interconnected.
The obligatory and occasional works are associated with all the three Yogas, as they are of the form of worship of the supreme being. All these yogas serve as the means for the vision of the self through yoga. But Bhakti Yoga can be practised even before gaining the vision of the self. The aspirants can repeat His name, sing hymns, visit holy places, etc., even with superficial love of the Lord.
Bhakti Yoga helps to attain prosperity or comprehensive sovereignty, if one desires it. If one desires the self, all these three Yogas serve that purpose, which consists in the attainment of pure Isolation ( Kaivalya).
The attitude, that the Bhagavan is the ultimate end, is common to all these types of devotees. But if one aspires exclusively for the Lord overlooking the other two till such attainment, he attains Him completely.
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