Bhakti Yoga Concept, Practices, and Benefits

Bhakti yoga (Sanskrit: भक्ती योग), literally the path of Bhakti, is a spiritual path or spiritual practice within Hinduism focused on loving devotion towards any personal deity. It is one of the three classical paths in Hinduism which lead to Moksha, the other paths being Jnana yoga and Karma yoga. Bhakti is a Yoga of devotion or complete faith. This faith is generally in the God or supreme consciousness in any of the forms. It may be Lord Rama, Krishna, Christ, Mohammed, Buddha, etc. It may be a Guru for his disciples. The tradition has ancient roots. Bhakti is mentioned in the Shvetashvatara Upanishad where it simply means participation, devotion, and love for any endeavor. Bhakti yoga as one of three spiritual paths for salvation is discussed in depth by the Bhagavad Gita. Siddha Spirituality of Swami Hardas Life System also agrees with the concept of Bhakti yoga explained here.

What is Bhakti yoga?

According to the Narada Bhakti Sutras, bhakti is an intense love for God. It is a deep yearning to experience love in its purest and highest form, to unite with that which is eternal and unchanging. We get a glimpse of this through our worldly relationships, especially with those who have touched our hearts the most. As the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad states, we do not really love others for their own sake but rather for the Divine Self that resides in them.

Bhakti Yoga |
Bhakti Yoga: Intense Love for God

Why Bhakti yoga?

Continuous meditation of God or object of faith gradually decreases the ego of the practitioner, which further prevents new distractions, fickleness, or even pain and induces strong bonds of love. Slowly the practitioner loses the self-identity and becomes one with the object of faith, this is a state of self-realization.

Philosophy of Bhakti yoga

Divide, share, partake, participate

The Sanskrit word bhakti is derived from the root bhaj, which means “divide, share, partake, participate, to belong to”. The word also means “attachment, devotion to, fondness for, homage, faith or love, worship, piety to something as a spiritual, religious principle or means of salvation”.

Divine love mysticism

According to Samrat Kumar, Bhakti yoga is an Indian tradition of “divine love mysticism”, a spiritual path “synonymous with an intimate understanding of oneness and harmony of the eternal individual with the Divine (the universal Being) and all creatures, a constant delight”. According to Yoga Journal, yoga scholar David Frawley writes in his book that Bhakti yoga “consists of concentrating one’s mind, emotions, and senses on the Divine.”

Bhagavad Gita

Bhakti yoga is one of three yoga taught in Bhagavad Gita. Bhakti yoga is, according to Peter Bishop, a devotee’s loving devotion to a personal God as the path for spirituality. The other two paths are:

  • Jnana yoga, the path of wisdom where the individual pursues knowledge and introspective self-understanding as a spiritual practice,
  • while Karma yoga is the path of virtuous action (karma) neither expecting reward nor consequence for doing the right thing or nishkama karma.

Later, new movements within Hinduism added Raja yoga as the fourth spiritual path, but this is not universally accepted as distinct to the other three.

Bhagavata Purana

The Bhagavata Purana is a popular and influential text in the Vaishnavism traditions, and it discusses Ishvara pranidhana (devotion to a personal God). The Sanskrit text presents various modes of bhakti specifically to incarnations of Vishnu, particularly in terms of “Narayana, Krishna”. According to Edwin Bryant, and other scholars, the Bhakti yoga taught in this text is inspired by Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and Bhagavad Gita, and they focus on “the ultimate truths of the individual self and its loving relationship with a personal god”. 

The presentation in the Bhagavata Purana is not in abstract terms, but through “charming and delightful tales that capture the heart and mind”, the goal of Bhakti yoga, states Bryant.

Concept of Bhakti yoga

The word bhakti originates from the Sanskrit of “bhaji” which intends to persevere through an association with the incomparable power or to worship and adore the omnipotent. Love or Bhakti is the profound and extremely endless relationship of our spirit with the perfect. Bhakti yoga reasoning emerges from the Ancient Vedic instructing of yoga such and those of Narada’s Bhakti Sutras.

Six noteworthy parts of yoga

It is one of six noteworthy parts of yoga, speaking to the way of self-rising above affection or complete commitment to God or the awesome. A specialist in Bhakti yoga sees God as present in each or aware being. Even though Bhakti yoga was created inside a Hindu culture, it very well may be polished by individuals from Western religions, as it centers the adherent’s brain and heart on God as an incomparable person instead of an indifferent Absolute.

Not at all like Hatha yoga, which is the type of yoga most commonplace to Americans, Bhakti yoga does not put incredible accentuation on breathing examples or asanas, yet rather on demonstrations of love, commitment, and administration.

Yoga advocated by Bhagavad Gita - Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Jnana Yoga | IndiaTV News | Lifestyle News – India TV
Concept of Bhakti Yoga

Bhakti yoga Traditions

Hinduism, in its scriptures such as chapter 7 of the Bhagavad Gita, recognizes four kinds of devotees who practice Bhakti yoga:

  • First category is that some practice it because they are hard-pressed or stressed by anxiety or their life’s circumstances and see Bhakti yoga as a form of relief.
  • Second type is to practice Bhakti yoga to learn about god out of curiosity and intellectual intrigue.
  • Third type seeks rewards in this or in the afterlife through their Bhakti yoga.
  • Fourth are those who love god driven by pure love, knowing and seeking nothing beyond that experience of love union.

Highest spiritual level

According to these Hindu texts, the highest spiritual level is the fourth, those who are devoted because of their knowledge of love. The Bhagavad Gita states that all four types of Bhakti yogi are noble because their pursuit of Bhakti yoga sooner or later starts the journey on the path of spirituality, which keeps one away from negativity and evil karma, and causes spiritual transformation towards the goal of Bhakti yoga, to “know God as the essence within themselves and their true self always with God”.

Shaiva and Shiva; the Vaishnava

Major traditions include the Shaiva who worship the god Shiva; the Vaishnava who worship the god Vishnu (or his avatars such as Krishna and Rama); and the Shakta who worship the goddess Shakti (or her avatars such as Durga, Kali, Lakshmi, and Parvati). These are all considered manifestations or aspects of the same metaphysical reality called Brahman in Hinduism.

Panchayatana puja

Panchayatana puja is a form of bhakti found in the Smarta tradition of Hinduism. It consists of the simultaneous worship of multiple deities: Shiva, Vishnu, Shakti, Surya, and an Ishta Devata such as Ganesha or Skanda or any personal God of devotees preference.

Smarta tradition

Philosophically, the Smarta tradition emphasizes that all images (murti) are icons of saguna Brahman, a means to think about the abstract Ultimate Reality called nirguna Brahman. The five or six icons are seen by Smartas as multiple representations of the one Saguna Brahman (i.e. a personal God with form), rather than as distinct beings. The ultimate goal in this practice is to transition past the use of icons, then follow a philosophical and meditative path to understanding the oneness of Atman (soul, self) and Brahman – as “That art Thou”.

Saiva Siddhanta

The Śaivasiddhānta tradition favors Bhakti yoga, emphasizing loving devotion to Shiva. Its theology presents three universal realities: the pashu (individual soul), the pati (lord, Shiva), and the pasha (soul’s bondage) through ignorance, karma, and Maya. The tradition teaches ethical living, service to the community and through one’s work, loving worship, yoga practice, and discipline, continuous learning, and self-knowledge as means for liberating the individual soul from bondage.

The historic Shaiva Siddhanta literature is an enormous body of texts. The Shaiva Siddhanta practices have focussed on abstract ideas of spirituality, worship, and loving devotion to Shiva as Sadashiva, and taught the authority of the Vedas and Shaiva Agamas.

Shakti Bhakti

Bhakti of the goddess is another significant tradition, one found in Shaktism. The theology of oneness and unity of “the divine Goddess and the devotee”, their eternal fearless love for each other is a theme found in Devi Gita, a text embedded inside the Devi-Bhagavata Purana.

The specific Bhakti yoga practices amongst Shakta are similar to those in other traditions of Hinduism. The Shakta devotion is common in eastern states of India, particularly West Bengal. The personal god here varies, and includes Durga, Tara Ma (Buddhist influence), Kali, and to a lesser extent Saraswati, Lakshmi, Bharat Mata (land goddess), according to June McDaniel.

Vaishnava Bhakti

The Bhakti yoga tradition has been historically most associated with Vaishnavism. The personal god here is Vishnu or one of his avatars. In many regions, the loving devotion is either to Vishnu-Lakshmi (god-goddess) together, or through Lakshmi who is considered the shakti of Vishnu. The specific avatar varies by the devotee and region, but the most common are Krishna and Rama.

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu

In the Krishna-oriented traditions of Vaishnavism, the Chaitanya Charitamrita by Krishnadasa Kaviraja interprets section 7.5.23-24 of Bhagavata Purana to teach nine types of bhakti sadhana, in the words of Prahlada. David Haberman translates them as follows:

  • Sravaṇa (“listening” to the scriptural stories of Krishna and his companions),
  • Kīrtana (“praising”; usually refers to ecstatic group singing),
  • Smaraṇa (“remembering” or fixing the mind on Vishnu),
  • Pāda-sevana (rendering service),
  • Arcana (worshiping an image),
  • Vandana (Paying homage),
  • Dāsya (servitude),
  • Sākhya (friendship), and
  • Atma-nivedana (complete surrender of the self).

These nine principles of devotional service were incorporated by Rupa Goswami linked to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu as integral to spiritual practice focussed on Krishna.

Meher Baba

A movement led by Meher Baba states that “out of a number of practices which lead to the ultimate goal of humanity – God-realisation – Bhakti yoga is one of the most important. Almost the whole of humanity is concerned with Bhakti yoga, which, in simple words, means the art of worship. But it must be understood in all its true aspects, and not merely in a narrow and shallow sense, in which the term is commonly used and interpreted.

The profound worship based on the high ideals of philosophy and spirituality, prompted by divine love, doubtless constitutes true Bhakti yoga“. 

Members of ISKCON practice bhakti-yoga – ISKCON Sri Sri Radha Gopinath Temple Sector 45 Gurugram
Bhakti Yoga: Traditions of Vaishnavism

How to cultivate Bhakti yoga in daily life?

The easiest way to understand the path of bhakti 

Divine love is often described through the analogy of human love to make it more easily accessible. But, whereas human love tends to be grasping and self-serving, divine love is selfless and giving. We can transform the relationships in our lives—even the most difficult ones—by offering what we do as service (karma yoga) to the Divine Light within them. In this way, we deepen our connection to our own inner light. The Bhakti Sutras say that by cultivating and deepening virtues, such as:

  • Non-harming,
  • Truthfulness,
  • Purity,
  • Compassion,
  • Faith, and humility.

We refine them and make them more harmonious, so they become a clearer reflection of the Divine.

Understand the path of bhakti

One of the easiest ways to understand the path of bhakti and expand our devotional attitude is to treat others the way we would like to be treated. The Jewish sage Philo said, “Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.” When you see that someone is having a hard day, offer to help, say a prayer, or just listen with an open and compassionate heart.

Accept your own faults

Heal and nurture your relationships. If someone has wronged you, try to see the situation through his or her eyes. By being able to accept your own faults, you will be able to more easily accept and forgive the faults of others. “There is always grace in love,” Swami Rama said, “That grace is called forgiveness.”

Love, reverence, and devotion

You do not have to do great things to practice Bhakti yoga. In her autobiography, Story of a Soul, French Carmelite nun St. Thérèse of Lisieux (also known as the “Little Flower of Jesus”) described her path as being the “Little Way.” She writes: “I applied myself above all to practice quite hidden little acts of virtue; thus I liked to fold the mantles forgotten by the Sisters, and sought a thousand opportunities of rendering them service.”

Serve your family, friends, and community

Find ways to serve your family, friends, and community in whatever way comes to your heart naturally and spontaneously—whether it’s cooking nutritious meals, babysitting so your friend can go to the class, rallying for animal rights, or being faithful to your partner. Imbue all your actions with an attitude of love, reverence, and devotion.

Different ways of Bhakti yoga

Bhakti yoga is the ideal approach to encounter glorious euphoria. Bhakti yoga is interrelated to karma yoga, jnana yoga, and dhyana yoga. These four essential yoga rehearses set the track to accomplish harmony, heavenliness, and mindfulness.

You can rehearse or perform Bhakti yoga in the accompanying ways:


This stage manages to hear different stories and old stories of different Gods and their enormity.


This progression manages to discuss different psalms and religious melodies attempting to please and adulate the god-like.


This piece of Bhakti explains recollecting God and making his essence felt surrounding you, to such an extent that you overlook your very own real nearness.


At this stage, one needs to support humanity to achieve the genuine soul of commitment to God.


This implies worshipping the Lord through an image or picture, which can be both physical and mental yet the center must be in satisfying the master by submerging yourself in total supplication and respect.


This is a period of complete accommodation to God through profound and significant otherworldliness strategies.


Becoming truly a worker of God is the thing that Dasya arrange is about. You are no more yourself yet a committed hireling to God reciting his brilliance, temperances, qualities, and convictions.


This stage explains making God your companion with whom you can admit and give your issues and inconveniences of life.


The last piece of Bhakti yoga manages to offer yourself to God, physically, rationally, candidly, and profoundly. Nothing exists around you other than God.

Bhakti Yoga: 9 Principles To Heart-Centered Life - SOLANCHA
One of the Ways of Bhakti Yoga

How to practice Bhakti yoga?

Bhakti yoga is the branch of yoga that focuses on devotion and devotional practices. God is love and love is God. Bhakti yoga uses our fundamental emotional relationships and sublimates them into pure, selfless, divine love. There are 9 traditional ways to sublimate emotions to devotion, overcome egoism, and realize God according to the teachings of Bhakti yoga.

Methods of practicing Bhakti yoga

These methods can be applied in our relationships with others:

Listen to inspiring divine stories

Develop the capacity to listen to others without judgment. Be honest in what you say about yourself.

Sing God’s glories

Learn to praise others and look for their positive qualities and be appreciative of one’s own positive qualities.

Remembrance of His name and presence in prayers

Learn to hold people you love in your heart in a prayerful mood, feel the sacredness of relationships. Be detached and forgiving. Be grateful for all people with who you interact in your life.

Service with humility

Learn to actively serve everyone as God whether you like them or not.


Learn to see God in your relationships. Offer your time and presence, as well as beautiful gifts, as if they are being offered to God.


Learn to give utmost respect to people you encounter or people surrounding you no matter who they are.

Cultivate the feeling of being a servant of God

Learn to develop an attitude of self-sacrifice.

Cultivate feelings of friendship for God

Learn to open your heart equally to all, without ulterior motives and discriminating who is higher or lower than you.

Complete self-surrender

Learn to accept all things happening to you with equanimity and overcome your own expectations or feelings about anything done by yourself or others.


Chant songs of praise to the Divine, either in a group or alone.

Set up an altar

Set up an altar with a favorite image or representation of the Divine and offer flowers, fruit, or incense; or do mental worship.


Meditate on your chosen image of God. Visualize the image—either the face or the feet or the whole image—in your heart or the space between the two eyebrows, and concentrate on it.

Some other methods of practicing Bhakti yoga

Relationship with God

Choose a relationship with God that feels natural. The Bhakti Sutras say that we can worship the Divine as a faithful servant, a loyal friend, a loving parent, or a devoted lover.


Appreciate the wonder and beauty of nature, seeing it as a manifestation of the Divine.

Be graceful

Say grace and offer your food to the Divine before eating or sharing a meal.

Develop the habit of giving up

Give something up, either temporarily as in a practice for Lent or Ramadan, or permanently as in the Native American Giveaway practice or Locks of Love.

Thought purification

Purify your thoughts and actions by practicing the yamas and niyamas.


Practice forgiveness and compassion. Accept your faults and the faults of others.

Be polite

Be humble. Do something that no one else likes to do, and make that your offering.

Come out of comfort zone

Stretch yourself a little beyond your comfort zone to help someone else.

A pattern of mind

Keep a journal to observe the pattern of your mind, emotions, practice. Channel your emotions through positive creative means.

Prayer of gratitude

Pray throughout the day, especially prayers of gratitude. Be thankful for the difficult aspects of your life as well as the pleasant ones.

Bhakti yoga Benefits

  • It diminishes your identity and wards off you from negative feelings like an annoyance, a sense of self, and presumption,
  • It gives you knowledge and peace,
  • You feel blissful and joyous with the help of Bhakti yoga,
  • It takes away fear, anxiety, and worry and keeps you peaceful,
  • Bhakti yoga lessens your pains and sorrows,
  • It will offer you an understanding of the divine, and
  • Moreover, Bhakti yoga lets you control your feelings and hold tough conditions with ease.

Hence, Bhakti yoga is going to be beneficial for your overall health.

Frequently asked questions

Before posting your query, kindly go through them:

Why ‘Bhakti Yoga’?

Continuous meditation of God or object of faith gradually decreases the ego of the practitioner, which further prevents new distractions, fickleness, or even pain and induces strong bonds of love. Slowly the practitioner loses the self-identity and becomes one with the object of faith, this is a state of self-realization.

What is Bhakti yoga?

Bhakti yoga, literally the path of Bhakti, is a spiritual path or spiritual practice within Hinduism focused on loving devotion towards any personal deity. It is one of the three classical paths in Hinduism which lead to Moksha.

What is Vaishnava Bhakti yoga?

The Bhakti yoga tradition has been historically most associated with Vaishnavism. The personal god here is Vishnu or one of his avatars. In many regions, the loving devotion is either to Vishnu-Lakshmi (god-goddess) together, or through Lakshmi who is considered the shakti of Vishnu. The specific avatar varies by the devotee and region, but the most common are Krishna and Rama.



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  1. नवविधा भक्तिमार्ग में नौ प्रकार की भक्ति का उल्लेख है। ऐसे में यह माना जाता है कि सभी को अपने अहंकार को छोड़कर भगवान की पूजा और सेवा करनी चाहिए। भजन को भक्ति का सबसे सरल रूप माना जाता है। भारतीय दर्शन का मानना ​​है कि भक्ति का मार्ग, योग का मार्ग और ज्ञान का मार्ग ईश्वर को प्राप्त करने का मुख्य मार्ग है। पतंजलि ने योग को दो भागों भक्तिमार्ग और अष्टांग योग में विभाजित किया है।

    भक्तिमार्ग का उल्लेख वायु पुराण के इतिहास में मिलता है। भक्तिमार्ग ज्ञानमार्ग वैराग्यनिलानिरजा :. उपासन विधायीक्षमतासंशुद्धिचेतसाम् ।। 42.15.

    तेरहवीं शताब्दी में संत ज्ञानेश्वर और संत नामदेव ने लोगों को भक्ति का सरल और आसान मार्ग समझाया। अभंग रचना में मराठी संत तुकाराम ने भक्ति का मार्ग सिखाया है। दासबोध, रामदास स्वामी द्वारा लिखित एक पुस्तक। ग्रंथ नाम दासबोध | शिष्यत्व चर्चा | ये बोलिला विशाद | भक्तिमार्ग गजानन महाराज ने इस शिक्षा को आगे बढ़ाया है। भगवद गीता में, भगवान कृष्ण अर्जुन को भक्ति योग का उपदेश देते हैं।(अध्याय बारह)

    अन्तर्राष्ट्रीय स्वरूप अन्तर्राष्ट्रीय कृष्णभावनामृत संघ ने भक्ति के मार्ग को पूरे विश्व में फैला दिया है। उन्होंने विभिन्न भाषाओं में हिंदू धर्म के महत्वपूर्ण सिद्धांतों को सरल तरीके से लाया है। वही भक्ति मार्ग सबसे महत्वपूर्ण माना जाता है।

    इसके अलावा भक्ति योग (मार्ग) के बारे में आपके द्वारा प्रस्तुत जानकारी भक्तजनों के लिए लाभकारी है। धन्यवाद..!!!

    1. Certainly, Vishal Saheb! Bhakti Yoga or Bhakti Marg is very simple to be adopted and the feasibility of attaining Moksha is great. Thanks for providing additional information. Please take care and stay safe!!

  2. Very good article. Bhakti yoga is one of the best among all yoga. It’s not only easy to adopt but also easy and simple to adopt. One needs no qualification. Anybody can walk on this unique parh. Thanks for sharing this unique article.

    1. So kind of you, Madam! I’m honored. Bhakti yoga is the simplest and easiest to understand and bring into practice. Attachment with our respective God(s) is made easy and pleasant. However, I appreciate your understanding of the facts related to Bhakti yoga. Please stay tuned and avail of the benefits. May God bless you and always keep you healthy!!

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