The intention when practicing Bhakti yoga is to devote oneself to the Divine that is in everything and, thus, to realize the union of the individual Self with God. It is motivated by a love of God rather than a fear of negative repercussions or punishment and has been described as the sweetest of the yogic paths since it develops love and acceptance for all beings.
Some Bhakti yogis may worship a specific deity, while others may take the broader approach of devoting to the Divine in everything. In Hinduism, there are three main groups of Bhakti yogis who worship specific Gods:
- Shaivists devote their worship to Shiva and his family.
- Vaishnavists devote their worship to Vishnu and his avatars.
- Shaktists devote their worship to devis such as Durga and Kali.
All three groups have absolute respect for the other groups and their gods while focusing on their own primary gods.
The Bhakti path of yoga is a path of the heart and practitioners may use chanting, devotional mantras, prayer, kirtan and rituals as part of their worship. Historically, this was a more accessible path for women and those from lower castes in Hindu society for whom the education required for more studious paths of yoga was not readily available.
It is said that achieving union with God through Bhakti yoga requires patience, determination, and absolute surrender and devotion to the path, not just a superficial attempt at worship.