Brief Introduction to Bhakti Yoga

Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Seva Ashram serves as a community center for the practice of bhakti-yoga, the yoga of divine love and devotion.

Under the guidance of Srila Govinda Maharaj, the Ashram community engages in the practices of bhakti-yoga as taught by the revealed scriptures Srimad Bhagavad-Gita, Srimad Bhagavatam and Sri Chaitanya Charitamrta.

According to these transcendental literatures, the spiritual culture best suited to the modern age is the devotional practice of hari-nama-sankirtanam, the congregational chanting of the holy names of the Supreme Lord Krishna. Kirtan, devotional chanting, is the primary limb of the nine-fold process of bhakti-yoga which includes: hearing, chanting, remembering, serving, worshipping, praying, assisting, befriending, and completely surrendering.

Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the Lord Himself incarnates as His own devotee (a bhakti-yogi), spectacularly propagated the chanting of the Holy Name throughout medieval India and revealed the spiritual path of ecstatic love of Godhead. He inspired a venerable lineage pure devotional yogis who have preserved and elegantly systematized his teachings for the amelioration of all souls worldwide. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and his spiritual lineage, the Rupanuga Sampradya, is represented presently by the modern day saint, Om Visnupad Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj.

Srila Govinda Maharaj's teachings have been translated to at least twenty-five languages and published in over 250 books. He has personally spread worldwide the sublime teachings of his gurus, Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami and A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, on twenty-three world tours. Srila Govinda Maharaj has traveled from India seven times within the last fifteen years to the Seva Ashram to share his invaluable wisdom and realization of the essence of bhakti-yoga and personally oversee the community's spiritual practices.

Here is a brief example of Srila Govinda Maharaj's teachings regarding bhakti-yoga:

“The topmost position, and the actual need for our supreme transcendental benefit, is only bhakti-yoga. Without bhakti-yoga, other kinds of spiritual practice such as good works [karma-yoga] or the quest for liberation [jnana-yoga] cannot give us the proper result. So if we try to practice the nine kinds of devotional service [bhakti-yoga] under the guidance of a proper guru then we will easily receive the greatest result.

Everybody has some eagerness to know what Indian religion is. But actually religion is not for India and not for America; religion is for the jiva-soul. Jiva-souls have permanent existence which is thinking, feeling, and willing, and jiva-souls are eternal. They have the Religion of Service to Krishna, their Lord, and service to the Transcendental Plane. There we find all happiness, all ecstasy, all beauty, charm, and Divine Love. Whatever we want in this mundane world within our conditioned position-beyond that, in the Transcendental World, that Divine Love is always waiting for us, waiting to embrace us.

We are really all members of that transcendental service world, but by misfortune and misunderstanding we have been captured by illusory happiness in this mundane plane. But Krishna is very merciful and He has given us the chance to go to our own home through our Divine Masters. It is necessary to plant and cultivate what you have received from them and that is through sadhana (spiritual practice). If we follow their guide-lines by chanting the Holy Names of the Lord, reading the holy books, serving the real holy Vaisnavas (devotees of the Lord), living without making offenses, and maintaining our lives with their Prasadam (mercy), then we must return to our holy home. That is real sadhana...If we offer all our activity for the service to Krishna, then that is bhakti-yoga.”

—Srila Govinda Maharaj

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