Vedic ritualistic actions, either of an obligatory nature or of an optional nature, are for attainment of heavenly enjoyments. Most of the persons are devoted to ritualistic duties, some are devoted to knowledge, a few think of God, and among those hardly one is liberated. One in million is true devotee. Hence, specific devotional rituals forming part of the Bhakti discipline are to be adopted.
Discharge of one’s duties in selflessness and detachment, and as an offering to God, has a place in the devotee’s life, as it leads to purification of his mind through elimination of demoniac tendencies born of self-centeredness. The methods of concentration adopted by the Yogis can be usefully employed in the path of Bhakti also as an aid to hold the mind in concentration on the God.
Bhakti is not mere emotions or feeling or Shraddha but firm, ceaseless and unshakable love of God, which surpasses every other form of affection and attachment, and which is based on and inspired by a full knowledge of His transcendent majesty. Worship of Divine images, visit to holy places, study of devotional literature, repetition of Divine name, participation in Bhajans and association with holy men, are some of the means for helping the growth of the infant plant of devotion. The end-phase of devotion is passionate and undeviating love of God.
What is Bhakti:
Bhakti is that continuous flow of the heart that has been liquefied by the love towards God. It develops unalloyed faith in God and submission to His will. To intellectuals, it is the conviction consequent upon the knowledge of the ultimate relationship with God that generates love and attachment to Him. Ramanujacharya equates Bhakti with Dhyana and Upasana. Dhyana means concentration of mind on Him and Upasana continuous thought of Him.
Sri Madvacharya, stressed that Bhakti should not degenerate into excessive emotionalism. Its healthy form is a well-balanced complex of emotional and intellectual love. He therefore holds that love of God should be preceded by the knowledge of His cosmic majesty and excellence, and as per instruction by a competent teacher of the doctrine of the Jiva’s nature as a reflection (Prati-bimba) of God, who is his Original.
Kinds of Bhakti:
Bhagavad Purana, which is recognized as a source book of Bhakti doctrine for over five hundred years, identified two types of Bhakti:
Bhakti, the highest Spiritual Fulfilment:
Reference: Bhakti Schools of Vedanta – by Swami Tapasyananda, Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai.