Bhakti yoga is the yoga of divine love. It falls on the six o’clock line of the Cosmic Clock, in the desire quadrant. It is considered to be the easiest of all yogas because it does not tell us to give up our passions, only to turn them toward God.
[The devotee] is asked to feel passionate desire to commune with God, to feel angry with himself for not making spiritual progress, to feel greedy for more spiritual experiences.... Bhakti-yoga does not say, “Give [it] up”; it only says, “Love; love the highest,” and anything that is lower will naturally drop away.
Bhakti yogis practice devotion to God through devotional music, dance and constant repetition of his name. They often worship God in his incarnations. For example, Hindus believe that Vishnu has incarnated nine times as a God-man, an avatar. Worship of his incarnations as Krishna and Rama is very popular in India.
Bhakti yoga allows us to divert our desire for any human relationship into a relationship with God. And even when we have a human relationship, we are loving God through that person. We can choose the form that best suits our psychology and needs. We can worship God as father, mother, master, child, friend or lover.
Padma Sambhava, who in his final embodiment as a Tibetan master taught a form of yoga called guru yoga, says:
You can empower yourself by mirroring God within your soul. Entering into the path of bhakti yoga, the path of personal devotion to the Guru, is one way to do this. As you give your devotions, bow to your Gurus as they appear before you in your mind’s eye.
Bhakti yoga is a way of endearing yourself to God. As you form an attachment to God, God forms an attachment to you. And when he has tried and tested your soul and put you through the Refiner’s fire, he in his good time extends to you his grace.
Mark L. Prophet and Elizabeth Clare Prophet, The Masters and the Spiritual Path.
- Swami Nikhilananda, Hinduism: Its Meaning for the Liberation of the Spirit (London: Allen & Unwin, 1958), pp. 109, 116.
- Padma Sambhava, “God Is Just: All Will Receive Their Just Reward,” Pearls of Wisdom, vol. 38, no. 36, August 20, 1995.