For years, I never really understood Bhakti yoga and thought we practiced by spending the night with Wah! or Krishna Das singing songs to Rama, Sita and the gang in this congregational gathering known as kirtan.
It wasn’t until I had spent sometime in the Himalayas that I had direct experiences with the practice and understood what it truly meant to be a Bhakti. During my second visit to India, I had brought a group to Kedarnath, one of the four sources of the Ganga. When we reached the top of the mountain, a student and I made our way to the temple. We did the puja offerings that all seekers make and then proceeded to the courtyard where we sat down to take in the scene. After a while, he turned to me and said, “Lets chant.” I took a deep breath. “Here?” To which he replied, “Why not.” So I closed my eyes and began a chant to Shiva. After about 15 – 20 minutes, I opened them and saw about 20 people had joined us. He said, “Lets do another one.” We proceeded to do another to Shiva and this time, the chanting did not stop until our voices could no longer sing. When we opened our eyes there were well over 100 people sitting in a cross-legged position chanting with us in one voice.
As pilgrims make their way to the top of the mountain various names of God are continuously on their lips. As I passed each pilgrim along the way or greeted them as they walked back down, they always would bring their hands together in Namaste mudra and say “Hare Om” or “Hare Rama” or Hare Krishina” or “ Sita Ram Sita Ram Sita Ram.”
Bhakti is the path of devotion and love. To stay connected to this “love,” people are continuously focusing ALL of the awareness on God or Ishwara – the lord of their universe. They practice kindness in all of their encounters and offer all the fruits of their actions to God. In this way, liberation (Moksha) is truly realized and all fear is eradicated.
Yogi Aaron, author of “Autobiography of a Naked Yogi”, brings passion and adventure to his teaching. Inspired, he guides students to secret and far-flung locales, empowers them to realize their own limitless potential, and makes yoga relevant and accessible for the modern world. Since 2002 he has been traveling and leading retreats worldwide and currently serves as the yoga director at Blue Osa Yoga Retreat + Spa in Costa Rica. Follow Yogi Aaron on Facebook.