Bhakti Yoga

Bhakti is putting our “emotional energy squarely behind our quest for freedom.” Ramji -James Swartz.

What do you love? What do you pay attention to? This is where you share your bhakti, devotion, love.

Does what you pay attention to and where you take action, align with your highest values? If so, you’re likely to be happy, if not, not.

Bhakti is devotion, a living breathing prayer and expression of love. It is the recognition of our connection to everything and everyone. Bkahti is having an appreciation for life, all we have been given, and offering it back to the field of creation through thought, word and deed.

True Nature yoga studio, Carbondale CODevotional yoga may include: chanting, meditation, service, scriptural study, and prayer to name a few. In fact every act (karma) can be offered in devotion to Bhagavan/Isvara the creator.

Bhakti uses the passionate energy of the heart – emotion to take action.

By focusing on deities like Ganesha, Shiva, Buddha or Kwan Yin, we bypass conditioning and open a gateway to the self, the one consciousness that we are.

However, when our bhakti practice has ended for the day, we still have to deal with our binding vasanas or past karma in the form of likes and dislikes, desires and fears. This is where karma and jnana yogas can be of great benefit.

In the source text of source texts, the Vedas, bhakti was not presented as a separate yoga but a component of jnana and karma yoga. With jnana yoga, we express devotion for knowledge which is truth. Through karma yoga, each action is taken with gratitude and devotion for all that is and who we are.

Exploring the Five Stages of Bhakti (Devotion)

In Stage One, there is a devotion for objects. This is the realm of materialism, atheism, attachment, and chasing objects and experience. Another name for this stage is samsara, the wheel of suffering. Most of the western world is in stage one and two.

Stage Two: Devotion becomes more developed though it is still informal. There is a love of religion (my God), dharma (right action), listening and learning but likes and dislikes and attachment still have their hold. The guns rajas (projection) and tamas (concealing) are predominant.

In Stage Three, formal devotion begins with the practice of Karma Yoga. Knowledge of Isvara the creator and the creation grows. An attitude of gratitude arises. Actions are dharmic, out come is surrendered, vasanas (karma) are neutralized and sattva guna becomes predominate. The jiva is paving the way for the self knowledge of stage four.

With Stage Four, there is a love of the truth (knowledge). The jiva is ready to practice jnana (knowledge) yoga and meditation. Acting with dharma is natural as there is nothing to gain by breaking dharma. Self inquiry becomes the primary practice, honing the swords of discrimination and dispassion. The jiva is transitioning from indirect to direct knowledge of the self.

Stage Five is Moksha, freedom. Devotion is life and life is devotion. The self is loved as self. There is complete fullness and total satisfaction. This is the stage of non-dual love.

The stages above are a synthesis of several seminars offered by Ramji (James Swartz) on the Yoga of Love, also available in book form by the same title, which is a commentary on Narada’s Bhakti Sutras.


To purchase the full Book of 10 Charts, exploring the timeless teachings of traditional Vedanta, created by Ramji, visit

One thought on “Bhakti Yoga

  1. Pingback: To Do or Not To Do | Steady Wisdom

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