We could say that Bhakti Yoga is the twin sister of Karma Yoga. Why? Because when you practice any of them you most practice the other one too. While Karma Yoga is the right acting beyond your personal needs and, therefore, it requires helping others as if they were you, then, Karma Yoga develops love for other beings. Bhakti Yoga is the yoga of love, the yoga of devotion and the yoga of faith (Real faith). How can Karma Yoga exist without love or without Bhakti Yoga?
LOVE, DEVOTION AND FAITH.
Let us stop on these three simple, but confused concepts. They are so simple, but in the Dark Age they are confused. What love has to do with this yoga? What is the need of devotion? What is faith?
THE SACRED BOOKS:
This is not a matter to argue, the note above is just to clarify concepts. The bottom line is this: If God is within you then it is within every human being. Therefore, loving others is loving God. Is not that the best deal?
Devotion, as a consequence of the above explanation, is devotion to Atman, who is everywhere: Within every human, animal and plant; so within the whole nature and even the universe. Devotion is respecting everything and everyone because Atman is there. In this case is called Brahman These concepts will be cleared up in the section of concepts.
Now, what is faith? Do not ever confuse faith with belief. They are so different, but let’s see the difference. A belief is something that might exist or not. A belief is a dogma or a theory (Even if it is a scientific theory). Faith on the other hand, is something you know it is 100% true. Really different, right? Here is an example: Would you ever let someone to stab you? The answer is a 100% NO! Why? Because you were cut with a knife many times in your life and you know from experience that it hurts. Moreover, you know it might kill you. Do you have any doubt about that? Of course no. That is faith.
Modern people are so superficial and they rather believe than pay the price to have faith. Developing faith (beyond beliefs) is possible, but you most practice yoga every single day first.
Understanding Bhakti Yoga requires a special knowledge that is on several Sacred Books: Bhagavad Gita, Bhagavata Purana, Puranas, Mahabharata, and the philosophy of all ancient Sacred Books that the major religions have: The Bible, The Talmud, The Torah, The Sutras, etc.
Who said that only books from India teach proper philosophy to human beings? We find the same principles on all those books. Remember: ATMAN IS WITHIN ALL BEINGS, IT DOES NOT BELONG TO A RELIGION.
Those Sacred Books are important because they speak about devotion, love and faith. Bhakti Yoga cannot be Bhakti Yoga without those principles written, in different ways, on all those books.
They are called Sacred Books because they were written by persons who developed this special contact with Atman. So they wrote the teachings taught by Atman.
They were not written to control us in any way. Nevertheless, history shows some people from different religions taking advantage of the followers. The wrong doing comes from those people, but not from the original principles taught on those religions.
Dogmas, beliefs, theories were created by people who were not able to get in touch with Atman. Therefore they did not have the original knowledge. They misunderstood the original ideas and as a consequence they modified those original ideas. Sometimes they did that without any wrong intention, but other times on purpose. Some, I could not say everyone, did that to control people. Here again the wrong doing came from the people and not from the original principles.
It is not necessary to know those books by heart or to be fanatic about them. But it is recommended to have some idea about the original principles: ETHICS.
I had explained, in a very basic way, the need of those Sacred Books, the reason why they are called sacred and that those books were not written to control people. It is up to you what way you go. It is your life. The bottom line is ALL RELIGIONS OFFER AN OPPORTUNITY TO DIFFERENT PEOPLE. We all are different; we all have different ideas and concepts, so we have different needs. At the end, the idea is simple: WE HAVE TO GET IN TOUCH WITH OUR INNER GOD. That cannot be possible for a believer and I not believers will not like that statement. We need to develop real faith, beyond any belief.
I think this is enough for now about this point, but believe me I could explain this topic a lot more. That is why I teach person to person. That is the best way because Yoga and Meditation are really, really deep!
THE IMPORTANCE OF DEVOTION.
Devotion has both: Love and faith. We are talking about love and faith to Atman, the Inner Father. All the Sacred Books talk about these three important characteristics.
Lord Krishna, for instance, in the Bhagavad Gita explains the need to worship him, to adore him, to be his devote. Nevertheless, we have to be objective and far from fanaticism we most understand that statement.
Lord Krishna is Vishnu, the son of Brahma. Vishnu is spread in the whole creation. He is within us and he becomes an expression of Atman. Making this short: We should worship our Inner Father, Atman.
We usually look outside instead of inside. Our physical senses detect the physical world. That makes hard to people to see their own inner world. Here comes the need of new senses or faculties to help us see beyond the eye: The Chakras, the inner senses.
Devotion should start in one direction: Toward your Inner Father, he will connect you with the Heavenly Father because at the end they both are the same.