Bhakti yoga is a spiritual path or spiritual practice within Hinduism focused on the cultivation of love and devotion toward God. It has been defined as a practice of devotion toward God, solely motivated by the sincere, loving desire to please God, rather than the hope of divine reward or the fear of divine punishment. Bhakti yoga is often considered by Hindus to be the easiest way for ordinary people to attain a spiritually liberated state, because although it is a form of yoga, its practice is not as rigorous as most other yogic schools, and it is possible to practice bhakti yoga without needing to become a full-time yogi.
The origins of Bhakti can be seen in the upanishads, specifically the Shvetashvatara Upanishad. The Bhagavad Gita, and the Puranas are important scriptures that expound the philosophy of bhakti yoga. Hindu movements in which bhakti yoga is the main practice are called bhakti movements – the major schools of which are Vaishnavism, Shaivism, and Shaktism.
एवं सततयुक्ता ये भक्तास्त्वां पर्युपासते ।
ये चाप्यक्षरमव्यक्तं तेषां के योगवित्तमाः ॥
evam satata-yukta ye
bhaktas tvam paryupasate
ye capy aksaram avyaktam
tesam ke yoga-vittamah
Arjuna inquired: Which is considered to be more perfect: those who are properly engaged in Your devotional service, or those who worship the impersonal Brahman, the unmanifested?
मय्यावेश्य मनो ये मां नित्ययुक्ता उपासते ।
श्रद्धया परयोपेतास्ते मे युक्ततमा मताः ॥
mayy avesya mano ye mam
te me yuktatama matah
The Blessed Lord said: He whose mind is fixed on My personal form, always engaged in worshiping Me with great and transcendental faith, is considered by Me to be most perfect.
ये त्वक्षरमनिर्देश्यमव्यक्तं पर्युपासते।
सर्वत्रगमचिन्त्यं च कूटस्थमचलं ध्रुवम् ॥
सन्नियम्येन्द्रियग्रामं सर्वत्र समबुद्धयः ।
ते प्राप्नुवन्ति मामेव सर्वभूतहिते रताः ॥
ye tv aksaram anirdesyam
sarvatra-gam acintyam ca
kuta-stham acalam dhruvam
te prapnuvanti mam eva
But those who fully worship the unmanifested, that which lies beyond the perception of the senses, the all-pervading, inconceivable, fixed, and immovable-the impersonal conception of the Absolute Truth-by controlling the various senses and being equally disposed to everyone, such persons, engaged in the welfare of all, at last achieve Me.
अव्यक्ता हि गतिर्दुःखं देहवद्भिरवाप्यते ॥
kleso 'dhikataras tesam
avyakta hi gatir duhkham
For those whose minds are attached to the unmanifested, impersonal feature of the Supreme, advancement is very troublesome. To make progrese in that discipline is always difficult for those who are embodied.
ये तु सर्वाणि कर्माणि मयि सन्नयस्य मत्पराः ।
अनन्येनैव योगेन मां ध्यायन्त उपासते ॥
तेषामहं समुद्धर्ता मृत्युसंसारसागरात् ।
भवामि नचिरात्पार्थ मय्यावेशितचेतसाम् ॥
ye tu sarvani karmani
mayi sannyasya mat-parah
mam dhyayanta upasate
tesam aham samuddharta
bhavami na cirat partha
For one who worships Me, giving up all his activities unto Me and being devoted to Me without deviation, engaged in devotional service and always meditating upon Me, who has fixed his mind upon Me, O son of Pṛthā, for him I am the swift deliverer from the ocean of birth and death.
मय्येव मन आधत्स्व मयि बुद्धिं निवेशय ।
निवसिष्यसि मय्येव अत ऊर्ध्वं न संशयः ॥
mayy eva mana adhatsva
mayi buddhim nivesaya
nivasisyasi mayy eva
ata urdhvam na samsayah
Just fix your mind upon Me, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and engage all your intelligence in Me. Thus you will live in Me always, without a doubt.
अथ चित्तं समाधातुं न शक्रोषि मयि स्थिरम् ।
अभ्यासयोगेन ततो मामिच्छाप्तुं धनञ्जय ॥
atha cittam samadhatum
na saknosi mayi sthiram
mam icchaptum dhananjaya
My dear Arjuna, O winner of wealth, if you cannot fix your mind upon Me without deviation, then follow the regulated principles of bhakti-yoga In this way you will develop a desire to attain to Me.
अभ्यासेऽप्यसमर्थोऽसि मत्कर्मपरमो भव ।
मदर्थमपि कर्माणि कुर्वन्सिद्धिमवाप्स्यसि ॥
abhyase 'py asamartho 'si
mad-artham api karmani
kurvan siddhim avapsyasi
If you cannot practice the regulations of bhakti-yoga, then just try to work for Me, because by working for Me you will come to the perfect stage.
अथैतदप्यशक्तोऽसि कर्तुं मद्योगमाश्रितः ।
सर्वकर्मफलत्यागं ततः कुरु यतात्मवान् ॥
athaitad apy asakto 'si
kartum mad-yogam asritah
tatah kuru yatatmavan
If, however, you are unable to work in this consciousness, then try to act giving up all results of your work and try to be self-situated.
श्रेयो हि ज्ञानमभ्यासाज्ज्ञानाद्धयानं विशिष्यते ।
sreyo hi jnanam abhyasaj
jnanad dhyanam visisyate
tyagac chantir anantaram
If you cannot take to this practice, then engage yourself in the cultivation of knowledge. Better than knowledge, however, is meditation, and better than meditation is renunciation of the fruits of action, for by such renunciation one can attain peace of mind.
अद्वेष्टा सर्वभूतानां मैत्रः करुण एव च ।
निर्ममो निरहङ्कारः समदुःखसुखः क्षमी ॥
संतुष्टः सततं योगी यतात्मा दृढ़निश्चयः।
मय्यर्पितमनोबुद्धिर्यो मद्भक्तः स मे प्रियः॥
maitrah karuna eva ca
santustah satatam yogi
yo mad-bhaktah sa me priyah
One who is not envious but who is a kind friend to all living entities, who does not think himself a proprietor, who is free from false ego and equal both in happiness and distress, who is always satisfied and engaged in devotional service with determination and whose mind and intelligence are in agreement with Me-he is very dear to Me.
यस्मान्नोद्विजते लोको लोकान्नोद्विजते च यः।
हर्षामर्षभयोद्वेगैर्मुक्तो यः स च मे प्रियः॥
yasman nodvijate loko
lokan nodvijate ca yah
mukto yah sa ca me priyah
He for whom no one is put into difficulty and who is not dirturbed by anxiety, who is steady in happiness and distress, is very dear to Me.
अनपेक्षः शुचिर्दक्ष उदासीनो गतव्यथः।
सर्वारम्भपरित्यागी यो मद्भक्तः स मे प्रियः॥
anapeksah sucir daksa
yo mad-bhaktah sa me priyah
A devotee who is not dependant on the ordinary course of activities, who is pure, expert, without cares, free from all pains, and who does not strive for some result, is very dear to Me.
यो न हृष्यति न द्वेष्टि न शोचति न काङ्क्षति।
शुभाशुभपरित्यागी भक्तिमान्यः स मे प्रियः॥
yo na hrsyati na dvesti
na socati na kanksati
bhaktiman yah sa me priyah
One who neither grasps pleasure or grief, who neither laments nor desires, and who renounces both auspicious and inauspicious things, is very dear to Me.
समः शत्रौ च मित्रे च तथा मानापमानयोः।
शीतोष्णसुखदुःखेषु समः सङ्गविवर्जितः॥
तुल्यनिन्दास्तुतिर्मौनी सन्तुष्टो येन केनचित्।
अनिकेतः स्थिरमतिर्भक्तिमान्मे प्रियो नरः॥
samah satrau ca mitre ca
santusto yena kenacit
bhaktiman me priyo narah
One who is equal to friends and enemies, who is equiposed in honor and dishonor, heat and cold, happiness and distress, fame and infamy, who is always free from contamination, always silent and satisfied with anything, who doesn't care for any residence, who is fixed in knowledge and engaged in devotional service, is very dear to Me.
ये तु धर्म्यामृतमिदं यथोक्तं पर्युपासते।
श्रद्धाना मत्परमा भक्तास्तेऽतीव मे प्रियाः॥
ye tu dharmamrtam idam
bhaktas te 'tiva me priyah
He who follows this imperishable path of devotional service and who completely engages himself with faith, making Me the supreme goal, is very, very dear to Me.