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Theosophical Encyclopedia

Bhakti Yoga

The yoga, or spiritual discipline, of devotion, usually religious devotion to one’s chosen deity (iṣṭa-devatā). In Hinduism, this would be Śiva, Viṣṇu, or one of their consorts, such as Kālī, or an incarnation (avatar) of Viṣṇu, such as Rāma or Krishna (as Kṛṣṇa). The classic source for this form of yoga is the Bhagavad-Gītā although there are a number of other texts which are also relevant, such as Bhakti Sūtra of Nārada, translated by I. K. TAIMNI. Since the source of our separation from our spiritual nature is identified in Indian philosophy as our ego or sense of “I” (ahamkāra), the person who practices bhakti so fills his mind with the thought of God and so dedicates his every action in the service of God that he completely loses his ego in the process. Thus he attains union (yoga) with God. As Krishna puts it to his disciple Arjuna, son of Kuntī, in the Bhagavad-Gītā (chapter 9, verses 26-28):

Whosoever offers to me a leaf, flower, or fruit devotedly
I accept that offering of love from the pure in heart.
Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer, whatever you give,
Whatever austerities you practice, O son of Kuntī, make it an offering to Me.
Thus will you be freed from the pure and impure binding fruits of action,
And with your mind firmly fixed on Me, you will be freed and attain to Me.

Obviously, this system of yoga has parallels with the devotional practices of Christian and Muslim mystics as is, in fact, usually identified as essentially the same as theirs by theosophical writers.

R.W.B.

 

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