Govind Das came to LMU a couple of Friday nights ago to talk about Bhakti Yoga. I had gone to his Bhakti Yoga Shala a week before in Santa Monica and took a yin class taught by his long lanky Australian wife. The yin class didn’t really leave any strong impression on me. But the Shala was definitely a hot spot full of young white Westsiders searching for and perhaps finding spirituality. It was a hub of energy and excitement with beautiful young seekers hanging outside of the space talking about cosmic ideas while other eager cuties practiced within. An all donation based studio, there was a box for your money in the back. It was the only studio I’ve ever been to that I didn’t need to sign an insurance waiver.
Meanwhile a week later at LMU, Govind Das came into class a fit handsome young white man with light brown dreadlocks in weather worn Indian dress and spoke to a class of eager yoga students.
Here are my notes from my lecture:
Bhakti comes from the word Bhaj is to join
In Bhakti we Join with Love and Devotion to God
We wish To vibrate in tandem with the universe
We can talk about it but never get to it
A bhakti practices to worship God
Kirtan is singing and dancing ecstaticly. One sings and dances to worship God.
The mind is a terrible and wonderful master
Don’t forget the central truth that god lives in your heart
He mentioned Shraddha but I don’t understand my notes so here I defer to wikipedia
Shraddha" is a Sanskrit word which has no equivalent in English, at best it can be understood as faith with love and reverence. It means devotion or passion towards anything or god.
Shraddha may refer to:
- Śrāddha (श्राद्ध, shraaddha), Hindu ritual performed for one's ancestors, especially deceased parents.
- Śraddhā (श्रद्धा, shraddhaa), the Sanskrit term for "faith", in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. Can be a girl's name in countries like India.
Faith is yourself
The great spirit dwells in your heart
A great swami said “The God inside of you and the God in the universe are one and the same.”
Smaranam – constant remembrance of the divine
I got some help for a hare Krishna website to understand this concept better:
"Some way or other, if someone establishes in his mind his continuous relationship with Krsna, this relationship is called remembrance. About this remembrance there is a nice statement in the Visnu Purana, where it is said, "Simply by remembering the Supreme Personality of Godhead all living entities become eligible for all kinds of auspiciousness. Therefore let me always remember the Lord, who is unborn and eternal." In the Padma Purana the same remembrance is explained as follows: "Let me offer my respectful obeisances unto the Supreme Lord Krsna, because if someone remembers Him, either at the time of death or during his span of life, he becomes freed from all sinful reactions."
Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 10
"Sravanam kirtanam visnoh smaranam. The word smaranam means "remembering." If we chant and hear, then remembrance will automatically come, and then we shall engage in worshiping Krsna's lotus feet (sevanam). Then we shall engage in the temple worship (arcanam) and offering prayers (vandanam). We shall engage ourselves as Krsna's servants (dasyam), we shall become Krsna's friends (sakhyam), and we shall surrender everything to Krsna (atma-nivedanam). This is the process of Krsna consciousness."
Teachings of Queen Kunti, Chapter 5
We practice devotion through constant remembrance on the divine.
Spirit is behind everything.
We need to train ourselves to see.
The yogi uses mantras to help us remember.
We get lost in Maya the illusionary belief that what you see is all there is.
Yogic practice helps wipe the dust.
Asana/Meditation/Diet/Pranayama help us purify
After yoga class… after fasting … we are more intune with the energy of the universe
In the bhakti yogic perspective life is beautifully real and needs to be celebrated.
Bhakta is the devotee
God is your beloved
The philosophy is you Love God so much you want to serve God. You wish to give yourself in loving service to God.
The greatest joy is a human being serving a divine in a loving way. It feels sweet in the heart.
You offer in service to other people. The yoga is total devotional service. You teach as a servant to the Divine.
God lives inside of us. We use deities to remember we have these qualities inside ourselves. As human beings we tend to forget our divine qualities.
Ganesh = health, well-being and wisdom,
Hanuman = service
Kali = fierceness
Lakshmi = beauty, grace
Ram= dharma and higher purpose
Chose one form of God devote oneself to live at the highest vibration you can live at
A little more help from the internet on Ishta Devata
Within Hinduism, an Ishta-deva or Ishta devata (Sanskrit iṣṭa-deva(tā), literally "cherished divinity" from iṣṭa "desired, liked, cherished" and devatā "godhead, divinity, tutelary deity" or deva "deity") is a term denoting a worshipper's favourite deity.
It is especially significant to both the Smarta and Bhakti schools wherein practitioners choose to worship the form of God which inspires them the most. Within Smartism, one of five chief deities are selected. Even in denominations that focus on a singular concept of God, such as Vaishnavism, the ishta deva concept exists. For example, in Vaishnavism, special focus is given to a particular form of Vishnu or one of his Avatars (i.e. Krishna or Rama), and similarly within Shaktism, focus is given to a particular form of the Goddess such as Parvati or Lakshmi. The Swaminarayan sect of Vaishnavism has a similar concept, but notably differ from practically all Vaishnavite schools in holding that Vishnu and Shiva are different aspects of the same God.
Guru is one who removes the darkness. It can be a person or a universal guide. The role of the Guru is to point us in the direction we really are.
Yoga can be thought of as an identity shift. We take a human body and we get spiritual amnesia and forget we are a soul. We identify with the material world and attachments and desires.
Yoga is a re-identification process.
Bhakti is traditionally a heart practice. Set up an altar. Have a morning practice.
As I change the way I look at things, things begin to change
In all other yogas there is a trying to get somewhere in Bhakti yoga we just give over to love.
Bhakti is measured by enlightenment.
The greatest joy is through service.
Just becoming a das … a servant of love.
Other philosophical systems are about trying to will yourself, more is better, deeper is better in Bhakti there is just service and love.
Kirtan is to praise. It is the heart beat of bhakti.
Namasan Kirtana. Nam = names , San=Congregation