Bhakti

Bhakti can be divided into two types - Sadhana Bhakti and Sadhya Bhakti. Sadhya Bhakti is also known as Prema Bhakti. The goal of Sadhana bhakti is Sadhya bhakti, similar to the one of the Gopis. It is that Bhakti that Srimad Bhagavatam refers to as the most difficult, because, the state of Prema Bhakti is nothing but Mukti.

Sadhana bhakti is the nine types of Sadhanas that Prahlada says – Sravanam, Kirtanam, Smaranam, Pada Sevanam, Vandanam, Dasyam, Archanam, Sakhyam and Aatma Nivedanam. When these are done not expecting any worldly return, with the sole aim of attaining Prema Bhakti, it will take us to that state.

Generally, the term ‘Bhakti’ refers to Sadhana Bhakti – the path towards the goal. As a simple example, when we are in the process of making tea, we simply say that "the tea is being made" though tea is not done until the process is over. The same way, the term ‘Bhakti’ is generally used to denote the Sadhana bhakti. But, that is not what Srimad Bhagavatam refers to.

According to Bhakti Shastras, there are 20 ‘lakshanas’ or characteristics that indicate the state of Bhakti. Horipilation, trembling of the body, loss of consciousness, eyeballs getting fixed upwards, sleeplessness, becoming leaner and paler, blood oozing out of hair nodules on the body – these are a few of them. The key among them is the feeling of ‘viraham’ or the loneliness felt by the separation from the beloved.

Instead of reading the Bhakti Shastras, one can merely read the life history of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and see how he exhibited all these Lakshanas.

Go-Loka is not the same as Sri Vaikunta. Only those who revel in the epitome of Prema Bhakti attain the Go-Loka. It is even greater than the Vaikunta.

As described in our scriptures, a Bhakta can be viewed at three different levels, Aarthi, arthaarthi and Jignyasu.

An ‘Aarthi’ is one who worships the lord for the removal of sufferings.

An ‘Arthaarthi’ is one who performs Bhakti to the Lord to bless Him with comforts like wealth, fortune and even heaven.

A Jignyasu prays to the Lord for spiritual elevation, divine visions and Liberation.

Above all of these, there is a fourth level, where the devotion is unconditional. In this state, the devotee performs Bhakti for the love of Bhakti. Even after attainment of Liberation, this Jnaani performs Bhakti. his is the supreme state called as Prema Bhakti.

Yes. You can pray for Nishkamya Bhakti. The Lord will bless you with the same.

Initially it is an imagination. This imagination is called Bhava Bhakti. It is very rare to attain this state.

This imagination becomes true one day. Then it is called Sakshatkara (Realization). This is the Real Experience, and is the rarest of the rarest.