The Five Bhavas – The Divine Attitudes

It is good to include in our daily routine any practice that brings us joy and makes us feel bright and light.

As yogis, the most important tool is the attitude with which we approach the practice and not the practice itself, which promises a consistent positive experience.

What is different is not life itself, but the inner attitude towards the same events

There is a well-known Buddhist Zen proverb that in its simplicity is profound and holds the key to a truly happy life:

Before lighting cut wood and carry water, after lighting, cut wood and carry water.

This way of being, even in the most mundane moments of life, is known as the Divina Bhava (or divine attitude) and can be cultivated before it achieves the ultimate realization – in fact, anytime.

There is no need to wait to be released but we can do it right NOW.

This attitude, means that tot what we do in a beautiful, sacred and valuable way, becomes our practice itself.

This is a positive way of thinking, having a spiritual component, in which we offer all the efforts of our park to the supreme consciousness, to the Divinity.

The Five Bhavas, or Attitudes

In Bhakti Yoga or devotional yoga, there are five Bhavas or attitudes, which means that there are five different types of attitudes, which we can cultivate in our yoga practice, as well as in our daily activities.

  • Shanta Bhava – the attitude of peace
  • Dasya Bhava – the attitude of humility
  • Sakhya Bhava – the attitude of friendship
  • Vatsalya Bhava – the attitude of maternal love
  • Madhurya Bhava – the attitude of the lover

The five bhavas (“states of mind” or atutudines ) are different ways of relating to the Deity. They reflect the whole variety of human relationships, such as those of friendship, love, mother-child relationship, etc.

Shanta Bhava – the attitude of peace

A Bhakta (devoted) in Shanta Bhava will cultivate a peaceful state of mind, seeing and experiencing God as a state of peace (Shanti). HE will generally tend to be quite quiet and unobtrusive in his expression or devotion.

Bhisma, a character from the Mahabharata, can be considered a good example of shanta bhakta.

Dasya Bhava – the attitude of humility

A follower in Dasya Bhava sees himself as a servant of God and visualizes him as all-powerful, all-knowing and omnipresent master of creation. A Dasya bhakta will feel very humble, gentle and insignificant in the face of God’s power and grace.

Dasya Bhava is the attitude that is perhaps most common in the major monotheistic religions of the world, such as Islam, Judaism and Christianity, where God is called Lord, Almighty and Merciful.

A famous Dasya bhakta from Hindu mythology is Hanuman or the monkey god, who loved Sri Rama with the attitude of a humble servant.

Sakhya Bhava – the attitude of friendship

A bhakta Sakhya addresses God as his best friend and most intimate. In this attitude, the follower is almost on equal terms with the Divine. Sakhya Bhava springs from the understanding that God is the most intimate and best friend anyone can have.

The Indian spiritual tradition allows the devotee to have such an intimate relationship with God, without this representing a lack of respect or sacrilege.

Arjuna’s relationship to Krishna as shown in the Mahabharata is considered an excellent example of this type of Bhava. Arjuna used to sit, eat, walk, talk and hug Krishna as an intimate friend.

Vatsalya Bhava – the attitude of maternal love

Vatsalya Bhava represents the relationship between mother and child to divine feelings, the cultivation of maternal love, and affection for one’s form as a representation of God. Vatsalya Bhava can be something natural for women with strong maternal feelings. In this bhava, there is absolutely no fear of God.

The sweetness and tenderness of the love offered to God are very pronounced while other aspects of the Divine (such as omnipotence and omniscience) are less emphasized. Vatsalya is a very intimate relationship and represents the natural affection of most women (and men!) that they feel for young children, being an excellent attitude to develop love for God.

This Bhava is usually associated with Yasoda, Krishna’s stepmother who loved Krishna as her own child. Despite confrontations with numerous aspects of Krishna’s divine power, Yasoda felt Krishna as his own beloved child, rather than an aspect of the divinin’s manifestation viewed with awe and respect.

Madhurya Bhava – the attitude of the lover

The final Bhava is Madhurya Bhava, or the attitude in which God is perceived as his own lover. This is the most intimate aspect of all Bhavas and is sometimes regarded as the highest form of devotion. It has many similarities with the attitude of some Christian mystics.
This Bhava can be associated with the relationship between Radha and Krishna. Among the famous Madhurya bhaktas are the Indian mystics Mirabai, Chaitanya and Ramakrishna Paramahamsa.

These attitudes consciously developed and applied in our daily lives and relationships, can smooth out the roughness of our existence and transform our lives in time, infusing it with Divine Grace.

We have a choice of that. Despite all the obstacles encountered on the spiritual path, we can strengthen our character and will as in our yoga practice, thus refining our life experience.
Whatever our commitment to the Bhavas divine attitudes, they become an act of awareness with an exceptional potential for spiritual growth and realization!

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