Defining Bhakti

You’ve probably heard that bhakti is devotion or love. Though that’s correct, neither word completely conveys what bhakti is. Consider these questions: If you’re fully devoted to – even obsessed with – your Olympic training, your dance, basketball, or other sport, your music, art, or work, are you engaged in bhakti? If you love and serve your children, partner, community, or nation, do you have bhakti

How and why bhakti is beyond the ordinary?

Bhakti is a discipline, a yoga, not simply a noun meaning devotion. It is a spiritual path of careful design meant to allow us to control the mind, efface the false ego, gain release from the cycle of birth and death, and realize the self and the Supreme. In short, it’s a serious practice promising freedom from the confines of our suffering and giving us ultimate refuge in the homeland of consciousness. 

By studying Bhagavad-gītā and the Bhāgavata Purāṇa it was with interest that I learned that bhakti can manifest only when reposed in the perfect object of affection. I learned that for my selfless giving to become a fully satisfying receiving, the object of my affection must be able to reciprocate all my love. Love, after all, is measured by how it is reciprocated. As my love increases, the other person’s love for me must also increase; otherwise love is thwarted. The only person capable of unfailing love and unmatched reciprocation is the supreme being. Therefore, bhakti is possible only when our beloved is the supreme transcendent person.

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