Bhakti Yoga is the path of love and devotion.
Bhakti Yoga is an expression of our Anahata (heart) chakra, which is represented by 12 lotus petals (pictured) which symbolise important qualities of the heart: Joy, peace, love, harmony, bliss, clarity, purity, compassion, understanding, forgiveness, patience and kindness.
“To live with an open, loving heart means to awaken and cultivate these twelve qualities. When we sprinkle the Lotus of the Anahata Chakra with the water of Bhakti (devotion), these twelve petals blossom into celestial flowers of Universal love, the fragrance of which delights everyone.”
~ Paramahans Sri Swami Maheshwarandanda
Bhakti Yoga in daily life…
You can understand this concept on many levels, on one you can take it as a high spiritual ideal, love for the divine. But you can also bring it into your everyday life and apply it firstly to love for yourself, including forgiveness and acceptance.
Take a moment right now to stop and check in. Are you practicing bhakti yoga towards yourself?
When you have love for yourself you can start to direct it outwards to others. To children, family, friends, community and even complete strangers. Mark Twain wrote that he could live for two months on a good compliment!
Bhakti Sutras of Narada
Narada was a great Yogi who lived in ancient India and spread the teachings of Bhakti Yoga. He is widely regarded as India’s most travelled sage. One of his most beautiful texts – Narada’s Bhakti Sutras contains the nine principles of Bhakti Yoga (known as Navdha Bhakti):
1. Satsang – Good company.
2. Hari Katha – Reading scriptures, or listening to lectures about such.
3. Shraddha – Faith and trust in the scriptures.
4. Ishvara Bhajan – Songs about the Divine.
5. Mantra Japa – Practice of mantras.
6. Sam, Dam – Surrendering sensual desires and remaining free from negative actions, words and thoughts.
7. Santo Ko Adar – Respect for people who have dedicated themselves to spirituality.
8. Santosha – Contentment.
9. Ishvara Pranidhana - Unconditional love.
But isn’t that just Hindu mysticism?
You can see these principles as a guide for life. Some of them may feel a bit too philosophical, but if you take a big picture look at each of them, you will notice that each principle is essentially a simple step for bringing more happiness into your day: spend time with positive people, read things that uplift you, place your trust in positive learnings, enjoy the beauty of music, repeat positive words and phrases lift your vibration / improve beneficial neural pathways, don’t be too attached to materialism and hedonism, have positive thoughts, words and actions, respect those who are trying to improve themselves, try and retain a feeling of calm contentment in all situations; and above all practice unconditional love for all.
Swami Jasraji was on the Sunshine Coast leading a workshop on Bhakti Yoga. Together with asanas, pranayama and yoga nidra he also gave discourses on Anahata Chakra, and related the advice Krishna gives to Arjuna in chapter 12 of The Bhagavad Gita to our modern lives. You can read more about this workshop here.