In general, there are four yoga traditions, with the remainder falling into subgroups of these.
- Raja Yoga – path of control and self-mastery
- Gyan Yoga – path of knowledge and wisdom
- Karma Yoga – path of selfless actions
- Bhakti Yoga – path of love and devotion
It is very common for all yoga traditions to be described as the means of heart and mind purification which can eventually lead to spiritual enlightenment, and in fact, there are many paths expressed through many types of physical and mental practices. However, Bhakti Yoga is very unique and important, and has a divine outcome – it is the only one path to God.
Bhakti is a divine power and is also called divine love. It is such an astonishing power that when great Gyani Saints absorbed in absolute truth come into contact with it, their bliss of impersonal divinity and state of divine samadhi is forcibly replaced by the sweetness of divine love. This is because bhakti is the supreme personal power of God.
Through Bhakti Yoga, one must engage in devotion to receive divine grace. Grace is the power that enlightens us with spiritual realisation and Bhakti is the only means by which we can attain this grace. In other words,
1. You need to do devotional bhakti (sadhna or preparatory bhakti) and after your heart has become completely purified
2. You receive divine bhakti (siddha bhakti) with God’s grace.
Bhakti yoga is a very simple meditation process and easiest to practice. It yields the greatest spiritual benefits in the shortest time. Anyone can begin bhakti yoga meditation – the only prerequisites are a faith and desire for God.
During the preliminary stages of devotion, or Sadhna Bhakti, a devotee must direct the affectionate nature and desire for love to a divine subject – the personality and form of God. These feelings are awakened, elevated and perfected through the grace of the Guru, who reveals a true glimpse of the actual name form, qualities, beauty and divinity of God.
Depending on a devotee’s goal, devotional practice and dedication, the state of divine realisation of the Guru and God and Guru’s grace, the amazingly complex and enriched stages of bhakti starts to unfold and the divine goal is attained.