Nirguna Bhakti

Definition - What does Nirguna Bhakti mean?

Nirguna bhakti is devotion to and worship of the Divine as formless. The term comes from the Sanskrit, nir, a prefix meaning “without”; guna, meaning “qualities” or “properties,” and bhakti, which means “devotion” or “faithfulness.”

Some scholars describe nirguna bhakti as the highest form of bhakti. It is devotion that lacks any desire for personal gain and is not motivated by any of the three gunas – sattva (purity, harmony, goodness), rajas (passion, driven, egoistic) and tamas (negative, disorder, lethargy).

Yogapedia explains Nirguna Bhakti

Depending on the tradition or school of Hinduism, bhakti is categorized in many ways, often as pairs of opposites. Nirguna bhakti is an unconditional devotion to God in an unmanifested form. Its opposite is saguna bhakti, which is worship of and devotion to a manifested deity who takes the form of an idol, an image or an incarnation.

Saguna bhakti is easier to comprehend because the ishta devata, or personal god, is worshiped in a recognizable form. Nirguna bhakti, on the other hand, is devotion to the Absolute -- the divine energy that is the universe and the highest consciousness. The ultimate goal is union with this divine energy.

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