Bhagti Yoga - The Yoga of Devotion

Bhagti yoga, or devotional yoga, would seem to be the most natural path for individuals who are primarily concerned about emotional well being.

The "bhagat" normally practises meditation by visualising, thinking and feeling that their beloved is close by. The bhagat often pours out his or her heart's love and shares his or her deepest thoughts and concerns with that person or Guru, until there is a continual flow of love and awareness between devotee and his or her beloved. This continuous flow of love and energy produces a superconscious state of awareness known as a bhava.

With this form of meditation, bhagti meditation, there is an awareness of relationship, or twoness. The devotee is aware of the beloved and also of his/her own being, and of the relationship between the beloved and the devotee. At times the devotee loses self-consciousness and becomes aware only of the beloved. At times the bhagat experiences the universal, collective consciousness which moves into the devotee and begins to reside within the devotee.

The experiences of twoness, as well as the experience of oneness, transform the individual. When periods of higher consciousness become more frequent, the individual who practises bhagti meditation remains in a state of continuously relating to his beloved.

The continuous relating is not static as one dimension of love replaces another and so on. These relationships feel very new and very fresh, continuing to enchant the bhagat throughout his or her life.

Bhagats, due to the ease with which they experience the state of bhava or ecstasy are enabled to experience deep samadhis, states of union of the individual consciousness enjoining with paratma, the universal collective consciousness.

Within bhagti yoga there are considered to be four states of relationship; the first being attachment, like a mother with her child, with one being on a higher plane than the other; then we have friendship, always based on a relationship in which both parties are equal.

The third stage is the Guru–disciple relationship whereby the disciple holds the Guru to be superior. This then evolves into the fourth stage, known as sharda, total devotion, also known as bhagti, where the individual's actions bring him or her to self realisation through love, celebration, selflessness, self-analysis, meditation, recitation of mantras, song and so on.