How do we practice bhakti-yoga?

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Bhakti-yoga means to connect ourselves with the supreme being or God with attention, feeling and a loving heart. Because God is beyond our sense perception we have to use authentic methods that have the propensity to touch the innermost of our hearts. One of the sacred scriptures of India, the Srimad-Bhagavatam (7.5.23) presents nine practical ways to do this:

sravanam kirtanam visnoh
smaranam pada-sevanam
arcanam vandanam dasyam
sakhyam atma-nivedanam
“Hearing and chanting about the transcendental holy name, form, qualities, and activities of Lord Vishnu, remembering them, serving the lotus feet of the Lord, offering the Lord respectful worship, offering prayers to the Lord, becoming His servant, considering the Lord one’s best friend, and surrendering everything unto Him (in other words, serving Him with the body, mind and words) – these nine processes are accepted as pure devotional service.”
Bhakti starts with sravanam, hearing. There are many, many devotional poems, songs and narratives. Everyone has an intimate relationship with God, the same way as we have a relationship with our mother, father, brother or sister. By hearing bhakti stories and bhakti poems we fill our hearts with love of God and feel close to Him.

Another way is kirtanam, chanting and singing mantras, which describe the Absolute. Singing and chanting mantras (and dancing) awaken our spiritual emotions and let us forget about the material world. Kirtan can be done alone or in groups, without or with melody and musical accompaniment, it can be done silently or audible.

When our minds become absorbed in God through hearing and chanting (sravanam kirtanam) and we are able to chant in ecstasy, then that impression stays in our hearts and makes smaranam possible, a stage of silent remembrance and meditation. In the beginning stages of bhakti meditation is interrupted, but it becomes more and more continuous as one advances.

We begin by directing some of our energy to the God. Slowly we learn how to do more and more of our daily activities with bhakti. Bhakti-yoga is a practical way of life and on this blog all the different practices will be explained in detail. In the Bhagavad-gita (9.26-27) it is said: “If someone offers me a flower, a leave, some fruit or water with love and devotion, I will accept it. Whatever you do, whatever you eat or give away, or whatever austerities you perform, do that as an offering to Me.”

Food offered to the Lord turns into prasadam, spiritual food, and every activity performed for the pleasure of the Absolute changes its quality, becomes spiritual and creates love and happiness. In this way the sincere and honest performer experiences the reciprocation of the Lord and a blissful consciousness that is beyond this world. The bhakti-yogi can live his life constantly situated on the transcendental plane, or in other words in samadhi.

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