Bhakti Yoga | Deity Worshiping and Devotion

Published: Dec 10, 2021
Edited by: Team TB

Person burning incense

Bhakti Yoga is also known as the Yoga of Devotion (or Path of Devotion). It’s an Indian spiritual tradition based on a philosophy of duality (the individual soul or entity versus the Godhead or Deity), in contrast to non-duality traditions, such as Advaita Vedanta (Jnana Yoga).

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In Bhakti Yoga, the object of devotion or love (typically a Deity) is situated outside the worshipper, but the goal is nevertheless to come to complete spiritual union with the Divine. This path to Spiritual Enlightenment is the Way of the Mystic, and its final aim is the same as that of non-dual lineages, that is, the total annihilation of the personal, individual persona or self, and re-union with God, the Universal principle, or Brahman (as the highest principle is called in India).

The actual Deity being worshipped varies depending on the beliefs of the devotee. In India, it may be a God or Goddess such as Ganesha, Krishna, Rama, Sita, Parvati, Vishnu, Shiva, Shakti, Lakshmi, Saraswati, and Durga, among many others. Nevertheless, seen from out a higher “standpoint,” there are no differences between the various Deities; they all point to the Divine. Each individual Deity simply expresses one or more aspects of God or the Universal Life principle.

Devotional rituals in Bhakti Yoga can take many forms, such as regular chanting, praying, meditation, visiting temples, ashrams, or shrines, darshan (sight of a deity or a holy person), repeating mantras, or performing a range of pujas (offerings of light, flowers, incense, and water or food to the Deity), to name some of the activities a devotee may engage in.

But, whatever the ritual, the goal of performing it is that the devotee concentrates his or her mind, emotions, senses, and activities completely on the Divine Deity.

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