Bhakti yoga is part of the Hindu religion and often referred to as the “yoga of devotions” . As such, it generally considered one of the highest forms of yoga. As part of the religion of Hindu, bhakti consists of practices based upon rituals and sacred texts. The purpose of this paper is to discuss bhakti with the rituals and sacred texts of Hinduism and yoga.
Bhakti the Whitest Horse
The first time that bhakti is referred to was in the ancient text called “Whitest Horse” Upanishad or Shvetashvatara-Upanishad . This sacred text is over two thousand years old. About the same time, bhakti is also referred to in the “Lord’s Song.” Krishna states that it is the path to the spiritual devotion of God. These texts instruct that such devotion should be based on love and worship, and not out of fear or punishment by the Supreme Being or maker of the universe. The development of bhakti was in reaction to the “mechanical ritualism” that pervaded the religion at that time. Thus, in a sense, bhakti was a re-awakening of the spirituality of Hinduism. Since bhakti was not consistent with the traditional beliefs of the time, the followers of Bhakti were not considered to be part of the Hindu religion. Around 1,100 C.E., the sutras of Bhakti were given “official” status by being written into the works of Narada. These sutras provided the basic outline of these practices. “Narada presents bhakti as the essence of all yoga practices, their common link and highest path”.
The Sacred Texts of the Bhakti
It should be noted that the sacred texts of the bhakti are in an abbreviated form . This means that having a spiritual leader to guide the worshipper is extremely important. Consequently, bhakti is often a shared religion in terms of achieving it. At the same time, bhakti is generally considered to be “easy” in terms of following.
Maharishi notes that bhakti involves becoming ego-free. This is accomplished through complete surrender through devotion. It may also be accomplished through examining one’s self for the ego and learning that it does not exist in any form. In terms of the rituals of bhakti, one may examine the goals of the practices . These practices of bhakti involve:
- cultivating positive character traits (like nonviolence and truthfulness),
- relinquishing worldly attachments (to objects, to people, and to personal concerns),
- unceasing worship and reflection on devotional scriptures, and “singing and listening to the attributes of God.”