A beautiful murthi or statue of Lord Krishna with a flower garland and flute, at the Sri Ranganatha Temple at Skanda Vale, UK

Bhakti Yoga

At Skanda Vale, we chant and sing the names of God throughout the day – it teaches us to harmonize our words, thoughts and deeds into a steady stream of love, or bhakti.

Devotion is more important than musical virtuosity; the feelings expressed should truly melt the heart, bring tears to the eyes and make the hairs stand on end! With a surge of bhakti, we can know God.

What is bhakti yoga?

In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna prescribes bhakti yoga as the sweetest and safest path to reach the goal of liberation. Bhakti yoga may be expressed in different ways – worshipping the Lord with boundless love, serving the Lord with pure devotion, and above all, learning to control the mind; turning it inward to enjoy the bliss of communion in the silence of the heart. Each form of bhakti suits different aspirants at different stages in their evolution, yet the common thread shared by each sadhana (or spiritual practice), is love.

Bhakti develops through three principal stages. The first is devotion with a desire for material gains. If those who wish for wealth, health, success and family approach the Lord with absolute sincerity, simplicity and love, then the Lord will grant their wish. Many times at Skanda Vale we observe such prayers being answered. But this form of Bhakti does not secure lasting peace.

The second stage of bhakti consists of worshipping the Lord through ritual and form. In this stage, the aspirant considers God a separate entity; embodied in an image, icon, name or form. Their desire is not for material possessions or worldly favours, but for the grace and darshan of their Ishta Devata (their favourite deity).

In the third stage of bhakti, the Divine is enshrined in the heart. In this heightened state, the devotee sees God in everything, loves everything as a manifestation of God and offers everything to God with love. A profoundly blissful union of the individual soul with the Universal then takes place. When all actions are dedicated to the Lord, then the highest knowledge has been attained, and the devotee is filled with the most sublime ecstasy. Such feelings cannot be glimpsed through academic analysis or halfhearted effort – Love may be reached only through love.

Bhakti yoga enables us to realise the highest goal of human life. That goal is Self Realization. The means by which we attain it is love.

Sit down and worship the Lord, worship the Lord with all your heart, and integrate yourself with the Lord. Have the courage to take yourself as you are, and present yourself with total honesty to the Lord. The power of the Lord is so great that it can destroy all your negativity. It is so great it allows you to evolve, through your own divinity and through your own sacrifice, to realise God. Don’t worry. You will finally discover God in the silence of your own heart. You will find the Lord, for sure!Guru Sri Subramanium, founder of Skanda Vale

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