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Books on Bhakti

Bhakti is an abandon of faith in God. It has always dominated Indian religious life and also Indian literature. This was faith in some aspect of the Divinity – either Shiva, or the Great Mother Goddess Shakti in her manifestations as Lakshmi, Saraswati, Kali and Durga, or Vishnu (especially in his incarnations of Rama and Krishna), or in some of the other gods like Ganesha, Surya, and Karttikeya. Bhakti also permeated Buddhism and Jainism.

The philosophical foundations of Bhakti are laid down in the Narad Bhakti Sutras and Sandilya Bhakti Sutras. The nectar of bhakti hinted at by these texts finds it delightful blossoming in the Srimad Bhagavata Purana.

Among the prominent bhaktas who have inspired generations we may mention: Jnanesvara, The Alwars, Namadeva, Narsi Mehta, Guru Nanak, Mirabai, and Sankara Deva. Great stimulus was given by the bhakti movement to Brajabhasa, a Western Hindi dialect, and also to Awadhi or Kosali, an Eastern Hindi speech. The followers of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, through their writings, greatly influenced the development of Bengali.

Sacred cities like Varanasi, Ayodhya, Mathura, Vrndavana, Navadvipa, and Amritsar became centres of bhakti literature.

Tulasidasa’s Rama-carita-manasa, an early Awadhi (Eastern Hindi) version of the Ramayana, became a classic in its own right and, for the greater part of northern India, provided the gospel of righteous living in a language of perfect beauty. Suradasa and Mirabai wrote their lyrics on Krishna in Braja-bhasa and Rajasthani.

Here is a collection of bhakti books, suitable for all - whether just entering bhakti, or those who have already made it a way of life.


Q1. How many types of bhakti are there?


As told by Bhakta Prahlkad to his father, demon Hiranyakshypa; and Bhagwan Ram to Maa Sabri:


Shravana:   listening to the divine name, sports of the Lord.


Kirtan: to glorify god by chanting or singing holy verses.


Smarana: a remembrance of god by repetition of a mantra or a sacred name.


Pada-seven:   service at the feet of the lord, or guru.


Archana:  worship to plead divine blessings.


Vandana:  a devotional gesture of bowing before a deity or guru expressing gratitude.


Dasya:  an attitude of bondage towards god or guru.


Sakhya: cultivation of friend sentiment with God.


Atma-nirvana:   surrendering one’s body, mind, and soul to god.

Q2. What are the major classifications of bhakti?


There are the following six classifications in Bhakti:


Apara (lower) and Para (higher) Bhakti. Bhakta observes rituals and ceremonies in Apara. Para Bhakti is Nirguna Bhakti.


Ragad Mika and Vidhi Bhakti.


Sakamya Showing devotion to God for getting riches or son or removal of sufferings from diseases is Sakamya Bhakti.


·        (Nishkam Bhakti - without desires)


·        Vyabhichari and Avyabhichari Bhakti.


·        Mukhya (primary) and Gauna (secondary) Bhakti.


·        Sattvic, Rajasic and Tamasic Bhakti.


Ragatmika Bhakti is otherwise known as Mukhya or primary Bhakti. Para Bhakti is also the primary devotion. Sakamya Bhakti is Gauna or secondary devotion. Nishkam Bhakti, Avyabhichari Bhakti, or Para Bhakti is otherwise known as Ananya Bhakti.

Q3. What is Bhakti in Vedanta?


in Hinduism, a movement emphasizing the mutual intense emotional attachment, participation, fondness for, homage, faith, love, devotion, worship, and purity of a devotee toward a personal god and of the god for the devotee.


Bhakti-Vedanta means "one who has realized that devotional service to the Supreme Lord is the end of all knowledge". With the words Bhakti, indicating devotion, and Vedanta indicating conclusive knowledge.


The main features of the Bhakti Movement are-


·        That God is one single entity, with different names.


·        Bhakti, intense love, and devotion, the sole thanks to salvation.


·        Repetition of the True Name.


·        Self-Surrender.