I have never really understood the true essence and meaning of Bhakti. I have heard the term thrown around the Kirtan music circles for years and I had a general understanding that it was the musical yogic path. It wasn’t until I started reading “The Journey Within” that I grasped the real meaning, the meaning that gurus have been telling us for centuries…everything we say, everything we do, in fact everything we experience in this life is nothing if it does not come from a love perspective.
It was as if the old 80’s song, the one that goes “we all need a love resurrection”, was brought to life on the pages of a book written by an unassuming swami from Chicago who moved to India by way of London to live in a cave in the Himalayan Mountains. Learning yoga from Eastern masters, he eventually found his love resurrection upon meeting an unassuming little man who gave him the keys to love and devotion through Bhakti Yoga.
The Journey Within
The secret path that alludes a lot of people in the west is the path of Bhakti, described by Radhanath Swami as “The Journey Within”, the title of his new book released by Mandala Publishing.
Radhanath Swami AKA Richard Slavin, like the founder of the Hare Krishna movement, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami (Prabhupada), is devoti of Bhakti Yoga. In fact it was Prabhupada who Radhanath met in a Vrindavan forest that put everything into harmonising truth for Radhanath about Bhakti.
Having just seen the Hare Krishna movie I was excited to receive both “The Journey Within” and “Swami In A Strange Land”, the biography of Prabhupada by Joshua M. Greene which I will review next week.
The Bhakti Path
Coming from a musical background, I have been fascinated in recent years by the concept of Kirtan (or sung mantras). The call and response style has been evident in so many musical genres and tradition over the years but it is the essence of Kirtan that excites me most. The underlying reason that drives both the singer and the participant…Bhakti. Radhanath describes Bhakti as pure love, stripping away our false ego…
“The Bhakti path teaches us that both the goal and the means to attain it are the same. The goal is to love. The means to attain it is to serve the Supreme and others with love.”
“The Journey Within” does a beautiful job of explaining concepts of true wealth, who we are, what is yoga and who is God.
God and Bhakti
Which brings me to the subject of God and Bhakti. Originally coming from a very traditional Christian perspective, there has always been an overarching male dominant presence. God is a man, Jesus was a man and therefore the Holy Spirit must be…you guessed it…a man! There is an imbalance which has completely ignored God’s feminine side, which the Indian traditions call Shakti. As Radhanath describes, this divine feminine activating energy is actually present in all faiths as a dimension or aspect of God.
“Yin and Yang of the Taoist tradition, Logos-Sophia of the Christian (Gnostic) tradition and Yahweh-Shekinah of the Hebraic tradition…in each of these traditions grace is personified by this feminine dimension of God. Forgiveness, compassion, and the nourishment of suffering souls with wisdom and love are all elements of grace.”
So why is this important in understanding Bhakti, in understanding devotion?
“…Bhakti teaches us to turn to the source of grace and then be inspired to make positive change while clearing the mind-set that is hindering spiritual awareness.”
Bringing About Positive Change
This is the journey that we travel on, the point of understanding and awareness that true Bhakti, true love brings us to…change within so that we can become a positive change without.
I remember a well known preacher criticising the Eastern practice of going within. He said if we peel back the layers like an onion, we might just find there is nothing inside. The truth is that in peeling back our layers and journeying within we find love, we find God and ultimately we find ourselves.
Endorsed by musicians and celebrities like Jai Uttal and Russell Brand, The Journey Within is available now through Mandala Publishing and online at Amazon– Here. Radhanath Swami has also released The Journey Within Card Deck, 62 cards that offer quotes of wisdom on all aspects of spiritual living. The Journey Within Card Deck is available from Amazon Here.