The Library

Bhakti Yoga



This `Yoga of Devotion` is perhaps the most commonly found form of yoga – world wide.  It is the yoga of the religious devotee who through prayer, singing or chanting of hymns, listening to sacred and devotional scriptures, service and other rituals seeks to offer his/her self to the service and love of God.


For the bhakti, there is the desire to achieve total loving dedication to the Divine.  Emotional expression through chanting or singing of hymns, meditation on the supreme identity of God, devotional worship, ritual, bowing or prostrating before an image of the Divine and `self-offering` through the ecstasy of feelings of being in the presence of God, are all aspects of bhakta.


In bhakta God is seen as separate from his/her creation, in Indian philospophy a concept known as ` dualism`.  This is expressed in the poem by Tukarama (17thC).

          Can water drink itself?

          Can a tree taste its own fruit?

          The worshipper of God must remain distinct from him.

          Only thus will he come to know God`s joyful love.

          But if he were to say that God

                   And he are one,

          That joy and love would vanish instantly.


There are nine principle elements in Bhakta:

          Listening to the sacred scriptures - shravanam

          Kirtan – singing in praise of God – kirtanam

          Meditating on the form of God         - smaranam

          Seva – service or worship of the feet – pada sevanam

          Puja - Ritual worship - archanam

          Prostration before the image of God - vandanam

          Devotion to God like a slave - dasyam

          Acknowledging the worth to God

                   of the most humble devotee as a friend - sakhyam        

          Self offering – atma nivedanam.


In yoga it is felt that no matter what your religion or your concept of God may be, ultimately there is but one God – known by many names, and worshipped in many ways.  In Hinduism although there are rituals used in public – such as `arti` the celebration of light, there is not the same emphasis on set public services as there may be in Christianity. However there is a living spirituality within the Hindu community – and it seems in the Indian population – which is not found in the west.  In Hindu traditions bhakta is particularly associated with the God Vishnu, and particularly the incarnation of Lord Krishna.

This Yoga of Devotion – Bhakti Yoga is explained to Arjuna by Lord Krishna in chapter 12 of The Bhagavad Gita.


Derek Osborn / Sw Shiv Giri Baba                                                         2010

The Shivlingam at the ashram of Sw Pranavananda Br