“The joy of bhakti is the essence of the fruit of all other forms of yoga.”
– Narada’s Bhakti Sutra
Yoga is a comprehensive and encompassing movement toward union with all. Bhakti is the emotional aspect of this movement. It is love and joy and the pain of longing, aspiration, devotion, faith, and doubt. Bhakti acknowledges that there is One Being that contains and manifests all that is, and that a profound and exquisite love naturally arises from our individual souls when we consider that One. The practices of Bhakti yoga seek to cultivate and expand that love, growing it within us and sharing it with each other, radiating it out into the world as medicine to soothe the ache of loneliness that pervades humanity.
In this class we will primarily engage in three specific Bhakti practices – Sravana, Kirtana, and Smarana. Sravana means “hearing”, and we will share stories, mostly from the Indian Puranic traditions, about the various Lilas (adventures) of the Divine One in its various forms, embodied and cosmic. Kirtana means “chanting” and we will sing together God’s many names as a way of calling the Divine into being in our midst. And Smarana means “remembering”, or meditating on the Supreme Reality that is alive and vibrant in the depths of our hearts.
For those with some kirtan experience, you will learn some background about chants, references contained within them, and the different manifestations of the Holy Oneness to which they sing. And we will all explore together the broad scope of yoga as it manifests in the lives of most Indians of the Hindu persuasion. As Edwin Bryant says “Although the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali has become the canonical text for yoga philosophy and practice in the West, few in India either presently or historically have actually read or even know about it. Most Hindus across the centuries have gained their yoga philosphy from the stories of great yogi examplars found in the bhakti literature of the subcontinent.” This literature includes the Ramayana, the Bhagavad Gita, the Bhagavata Purana, the Siva Purana, the Devi Bhagavatam, the Bhakti Sutra, and many many more. We will dip into this vast well together.