Bhakti

Bhakti

The Sanskrit word bhakti originates from the word bhaj, meaning to “belong to” or “share in” as well as “to worship.” Its meaning is often interpreted as “devotion,” but the full meaning is beyond definition, as it is the igniting of a natural feeling of devotion, an inner realization of the fire of love that has been core to yoga from the beginning.

It was first described as a path of realization through love of God in all forms and all ways, or bhaktimarga, in the Bhagavad Gita (500 BCE).19 Central to bhakti is an emphasis on a mystic and loving experience with the Source, a relationship that is often seen as beloved-lover, friend-friend, parent-child, or God-servant.

The Heart Fire in the form of bhakti ignited a revolutionary change in yoga when bold ones on the path were transformed by their direct experience of the Source. The transforming fire of bhakti lit a flame across India. It is characterized by the dissolution of all caste and wealth restrictions; equality of men and women as the true visionof Oneness and love; and the writings of its poet-saints, male and female—from the Tantric Siddhas, Sri Chaitanya, Basavanna, Kabir, Mirabai, and others. Their writing extolled passionate devotional love for the Divine that released barriers of caste, religion, and gender so that all beings could be seen and respected as manifestations of the One.