It is important to appreciate what “Bhakti” actually is, and is not.
Bhakti has been defined and explained by the greatest of spiritual authorities, Srila Vyasadeva, the empowered incarnation who compiled the entire Vedas over 5,000 years ago. Bhakti is not some emotion emanating from the body nor a mental expression. It is a product of the highest spiritual realization. Bhakti is the natural and transcendental expression of the soul itself. It is the eternal serving mood exhibited by the jiva-atma (the individual soul) towards the Supreme Soul, in the deepest love and devotion.
Understanding Bhakti is not an academic exercise, a mental undertaking, but rather the culmination of all yoga. One realizes this under the tutelage of a self-realized teacher or guru, coming in an authorized lineage. Such a teacher is a devout practitioner and master of the path of devotion (Bhakti Marga) himself.
God-Realization, the realization of the Highest Truth, is experienced in three features; Brahman (the Ocean of Spiritual Light), Paramatma (the Supreme Soul seated within the heart of all beings), and Bhagavan (the beautiful personal feature of God who is Supremely loveable – the Lord of my heart, the Lord of Love).
The Srimad Bhagavatam (Bhagavat Purana) states:
vadanti tat tattva-vidas
tattvaṁ yaj jñānam advayam
bhagavān iti śabdyate
“Learned transcendentalists who know the Absolute Truth call this nondual substance Brahman, Paramātmā or Bhagavān.” – Srimad Bhagavatam 1.2.11
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