What is Bhakti Yoga?

A radio interview with Sripad Srutasrava Prabhu in Brazil, 2 August 2006.

Summary notes:

The practice of Bhakti Yoga is the progress from the beginning stages of devotion to the final stages of pure love of God. Most religious processes advise us that we should love God, which is certainly wonderful advice, but few religious processes tell us how to love God. We have lovers, we have children, we have parents, we have pets, we have friends, we have so many things with whom we exchange affection, so how do we exchange that same affection with God? Love of God is possible, and in what form it’s possible, and how that love will be exchanged, are all encompassed in the teachings of bhakti yoga.

So much more information exists about God and it’s necessary to disseminate that information for the happiness of the people. We’re familiar with the frightening aspects of the omnipotence and omniscience of God, but less with the infinite kindness, beauty, sweetness and beauty of God.

In the Eastern tradition one of God’s infinite names is Krishna. Krishna means all-attractive. Many things in this world attract us: beautiful sunsets and beautiful sunrises, beautiful scenery, beautiful objects, beautiful people. So if we accept the existence of God then he must be infinitely attractive: everything that is attractive must exist in him to an infinite degree.

The practice of Bhakti yoga is to open our heart. It is is the yoga of the heart, so the topmost requirement is to have a heart. It is not dependent on language, country, or culture. It’s for every living entity.

The advancement of bhakti yoga means advancement in the relationship with the supreme being, and someone who has a relationship with the supreme being must naturally become filled with all good qualities.

Suhrit is one Sanskrit word for friend. When someone’s heart is so filled with good feelings towards you that person is called suhrit. Krishna says, “Suhrdam-sarva-bhutanam: I have that feeling towards every living entity.” (Bhagavad-gita, 5.29) And somebody who is developed in the process of bhakti yoga naturally will share that feeling towards every living entity.

In modern society we’re bewildered by the media to believe that our quality of life will come from accumulation but the real quality of life comes from the heart.

The Bhagavat-purana says that the best process for all living entities is that process by which we can develop love for God. What makes that process extremely practical is that it is ahaituki. The meaning of ahaituki is that there is no material cause for this thing. And the other side of that is apratihata: nothing material can stop the progress of bhakti.

Many other processes require some physical, intellectual, or mental ability, but we can practise bhakti in any condition: when we’re up, when we’re down, when we’re rich, when we’re poor, when we’re sick, when we’re well, and that makes it universally applicable. We can practise at all times, in all places, under all circumstances.

Hearing and chanting are the most important practices of bhakti. If we lend a submissive ear to divine sound we will be purified. At the present time, with the use of devices such as cell phones, it is not so difficult to understand the power of sound. We see the power of mundane sound all around us. What about divine sound? Divine sound can transport us to the divine plane. The sweet name of Krishna has come into this world with its own desire to benefit us. 

God is not the cause of suffering or misery; he is akhila-rasamrta-murti, the fountainhead of all ecstasy and pleasure. Srnvantu visve amrtasya putrah: we are all children of the nectarean ocean and we are meant to dive deep into that ocean.

Without seeking something spiritual, life comes to zero. In every country there’s an expression, “You can’t take it with you when you go.” Is it possible to get something from life that we can take when we go?

As we develop in consciousness we’ll see the beauty in God, we’ll see that beauty reflected in other living entities, and we’ll realise that He is not for one type of people but he is for everyone.