Bhakthi Pathway and Vedic Sanskara Rituals
Various forms of Devotion and Sanskara in Practice
Religious Faith and practice are based on its strong philosophy
and the ancient tradition. Most of the followers know about the
Vedas and the Vedantha philosophy. Every one understands that
there is one God who is worshipped in many forms. Most of them
are familiar with the Adhvaitha theory and Vedantha philosophy
of oneness of the Divine and the human soul. However, the practice
is much closer to the Dhvaitha and Visishta-adhvaitha theories
for the worship of the Divine.
paths of Karma yoga, Raja yoga, Bhakthi yoga and Gnana yoga are
taught as the spiritual disciplines for the practice. Some feel
that Gnana or the path of wisdom is the ultimate while others consider
that after performing duties without attachment as in Karma yoga,
practicing meditation and controlling thoughts as in Raja yoga and
gaining knowledge of Gnana path one will reach the state of ultimate
surrender of Bhakthi yoga.
all the paths of Hinduism, the most common and popular ones have
been the Ritualistic [Sanskaara] paths and the Devotional [Bhakthi]
paths of worship. The ritualistic path involves the practice of
sanskaara which are performing the regular rituals for the formless
Supreme Divine as prescribed in the Karma kanda and Upasana kanda
portions of the Vedas. They are performed every day and for various
events in one's life. These are practiced and performed mostly by
persons knowledgeable in the Vedas and the Hindu philosophy and
those initiated to the practice of these rituals.
Bhakthi pathway is much easier to follow for everyone. It teaches
a method of love and attachment towards a supreme God through
one of His manifestations as in the Agamas and Puranas with devotional
prayers and worship to various forms of Deities through poojas
and bhajans. This form of Bhakthi develops into various levels
and degrees as an inner attitude of an attachment and feeling
of love towards God, from a blind faith and devotion to God in
one form to total surrender to the Supreme.
see: Chapter -V : Lesson 5. - About Basics of Home Puja and Rituals
Bhakthi or Devotion at various Levels
Bhakthi Yoga - the Devotional Practice
is the form of pure devotion with contemplation on the formless
and Supreme un-manifest Brahmam. It is the highest form of bhakthi
suitable only for few learned people, the Jnana Yogis, who have
the true Spiritual knowledge of the Supreme.
or Gauni-bhakthi is the lower level of love and devotion to a
manifested Iswara and prayers to one of His forms accepted as
Ishta-Devatha or a personal God. There are many levels or grades
in this, the most important being - Bhaya-bhakthi, Ananya-bhakthi
is the very external form of worship of a Deity as God. It is
the adoration paid to a form of God outside ourselves. It is
the most basic form ofa faith, based on the unenlightened or
Tamasika feeling that God is external to us and dwells in a
particular locality like the prayer room or Temple. The pilgrimages,
worship of several images of God, symbols and sacred books are
examples of this. Most popular religions do not rise above this
[meaning "not another"] is the exclusive and passionate,
or the Rajasika, form of worship of one's Ishta Devatha in the
heart. It is an intense form of monotheism and gives a healthy
direction to the spirit of devotion. But, it shall not give
rise to bigotry and cruelty towards those who have different
concept of God and different methods of approach. Among Hindus,
it is well recognized that the gods whom others worship are
only different forms of one's own Ishta-devatha.
is the purest and Sattvika form of devotion. Here, the devotee
loves God for His own sake and not for His gifts. He learns
to crave for his personal God alone, in prosperity as well as
in adversity. He sees the presence of God, as his Ishta-devatha,
in all places, at all times.
Bhavas as an expression of Devotion and Love
Bhakthi Yoga - The feeling towards the Supreme
Santha Bhava: [means calmness of mind]. The mind of the devotee
is filled with divine knowledge and is emotionless, always undisturbed,
peaceful and tranquil. Only Yogis and Jñanis, like Bhishma,
who are highly developed and have had direct experience of God,
will be able to practice Santha Bhava.
Dasya Bhava: The devotee considers himself as inferior to
God. He takes God to be his Master and looks upon himself as just
a humble servant. He considers it is his duty to worship and to
love God. Hanuman is an example of Dasya Bhakthi.
Sakhya Bhava: The devotee considers God to be a dear friend,
the sole supreme companion, and as his equal in relation, with
pure friendship not degenerating into familiarity. Arjuna is an
example of Sakhya Bhaktha.
Vatsalya Bhava: The devotee considers God as his Child and
themselves as the mother giving and also getting the unconditional
love of the Child. Mother Yashoda had Vatsalya Bhakthi towards
Child Krishna as her own child.
Kantha Bhava: This is the expression of devotion with a feeling
like the one a wife gets and gives towards her husband, as in
the case of devotion of Sita or Rukmini towards Sri Rama and Sri
Krishna, called Kantha Bhava.
Bhava: This is the highest expression of Divine love. Here,
the devotee takes the lord to be his beloved, with deep love,
devotion and surrenders himself. When Gopikas like Radha develops
Bhakthi towards Sri Krishna, it is the romantic love and surrender
of the self to the lover, without any sensuality but with pure
devotion and surrender, called Madhurya Bhava.
Fundamental Disciplines needed for Bhakthi Yoga
Categories of Bhakthi Yoga - The Devotional Practice
Abhyasa: -Practice of constantly and continuously remembering God
with a steady mind.
Viveka: Discrimination, the ability to choose between right and
Vimoka: Intense longing for God, rejecting everything that hinders
Sathyam: Truthfulness, to be always observed as a basic rule of
We have to live a life of truth, think truth alone, speak truth
and listen carefully to our own inner voice called conscience.
Arjavam: This is straightforwardness or honesty.
Kriya: Doing good deeds to all beings, as the devotee will God in
Kalyana: This is wishing well of others with a loving heart, praying
to the Lord for the well being of others, for the peace and welfare
of the world.
Dhaya: Compassion, as God is love, mercy and compassion personified.
As we seek to realize Him, we, too, must develop the same qualities.
Ahimsa: The practice of non-violence, non-injury to all creatures,
by way of action, thought or word.
Dhaana: Abundant and spontaneous charity with a pure heart, for
relieving the suffering of the distressed is a potent means of growing
Anavasada: To be cheerful and hopeful is an essential quality of
a devotee. One must always have faith and hope.