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Article LXXXVI: Bhakti and Love

"Bhakti-Yoga is a real, genuine search after the Lord, a search beginning, continuing, and ending in love. One single moment of the madness of extreme love to God brings us eternal freedom." Swami Vivekananda (The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Volume 3, Bhakti Yoga, Definition of Bhakti)

Bhakti is most often translated as devotion, but bhakti is also translated as love. Love for God may take numerous forms. Classically, love to God is shown through prayer, ceremony, and worship. It is important to consider that love of God can also be shown through love of others in selfless action. Since God exists within all people, loving others is another way to love God. Bhakti (love), karma (action), and jnana (knowledge) represent three major paths to enlightenment. Loving, selfless, righteous action represents an integration of bhakti, karma, and jnana. The love manifests from bhakti yoga, the selflessness manifests from karma yoga, and the righteousness manifests from jnana yoga. Most often these paths are not isolated, and various combinations of these paths can accommodate each individual's tendencies (vasanas).

In a talk on bhakti yoga, Swami Vivekananda describes different levels of the human representation of the divine ideal of love. Shanta is a peaceful, calm love of God. Dasya is love of God as a servant of the Lord. Sakhya is seeing God as a beloved friend. Vatsalya is loving God as a child. Madhura is loving God as a man and a woman love each other. All of these are ways to love God and attempts to express the inexpressible, infinite love for God.

East-West Counseling & Meditation -- Modern Psychiatry Integration -- Himalayan Philosophy -- Penn & Stanford Medicine
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