What is bhakti?

Sri Bhagavan Ramana Maharisi, selected from the famous work attributed to Sri Sankara – “Soundarya Lahari” – ten stanzas describing what devotion means “bhakti.” “Soundarya Lahari” (in Sanskrit: सौन्दर्यलहरी) translates as “Beauty Waves” being a literary work dedicated to the beauty, grace and splendor of Goddess Parvati, Shiva’s consort.


1. What is bhakti?

Just as the ankola fruit falls from the tree to return to the ground, just as the iron filings are attracted to the magnet, so thoughts after rising are lost in their original source. This is Bhakti. The original source of thoughts are the feet of Lord Isvara. Love for His feet forms Bhakti (61)

2. The fruits of bhakti:

The dense cloud of bhakti, formed in the transcendental sky placed at the feet of the Lord, pours out a rain of drunkude (ananda) and fills the lake of the mind to the brim. Only then Jiva, endless transmigrand, finally has the real purpose fulfilled. (76)

3. What should bhakti go to?

Devotion to the gods, which are also subject to becoming, can lead to fruits similar to their origin and end. In order to be in a state of eternal happiness, our devotion must be directed directly to its source, namely to the presence of the Lord. (83)

4. Bhakti can only be experienced and not exposed in words.

How can logic or polemic help us understand bhakti? Can ghatapatas (the examples preferred by logicians) save us when we are in a crisis? Why should we then lose ourselves in pointless thinking and speech? Stop practicing your vocal cords, even if it hurts. Think of God’s feet and you’ll start drinking nectar. (6)

5. Immortality is the fruit of Devotion:

At the sight of the one who has his heart fixed in the Lord, Death remembers his dishearted encounter with Markandya and flees away. All the other gods worship only Shiva, bowing their crowned heads at His feet. Such involuntary worship is natural for Shiva. Only the Goddess of Liberation, his consort, always remains part of Him. (65)

6. If only devotion is present– the conditions of jiva can no longer affect him (the worshipper). However, different from the body, the mind is lost in the worship of the Lord. Ecstasy pours! (10)

7. Devotion is always irreproachable.

Under any circumstances, just let the mind lose itself in the Supreme. This is Yoga! It’s pure bliss! Or yoghi or the incarnate blessing! (12)

8. Karma Yoga is also Bhakti:

When we worship God by offering him flowers or other outer objects, it is problematic.

Put only one flower in your heart, at Shiva’s feet, and stay in peace. Don’t know this so simple, wandering pointlessly. How absurd! How much suffering! (9)

9. This form of Karma Yoga, puts an end to the samasary:

Whatever the order of a disciple’s life, only one thought dedicated to Shiva, spares the follower from the task of his samsation, taking him into Himself. (11)

10. Devotion is Jnana.

The mind is lost in Shiva’s adoration. Ignorance disappears! Knowledge! Release! (91)

Excerpt from Sri Bhagavan Ramana Maharisi’s conversations (15 December 1937)




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