How to Practice Bhakti (Gita 12.8-12)

Texts 8 through 12 of the Gita’s 12th chapter are an important section conveying a message well worth reiterating for clarity.

8: The essence of bhakti-yoga is to enwrap your heart and mind in Krishna. The best way to do this is out of heartfelt desire to attain divine love, a desire that results from deep wisdom. (rāgānugā-sādhana)

9: When such heartfelt desires are absent, one should fall back upon the strength of willpower to keep one’s heart and mind wrapped around Krishna. (vaidhi-sādhana)

10: If willpower is insufficient, one must at least engage in the physical actions of bhakti-yoga. (karma in bhakti-yoga)

11: If we cannot do this, we fall outside the realm of bhakti-yoga but can still make progress towards it by giving away all the rewards of our actions. (karma-yoga).

12: If we can’t do this, we need to get a deeper philosophy, contemplate it carefully, and keep trying.


Dear Krishna, “What Turns You On?”

Arjuna: What qualities come to a person who progresses on the path of bhakti that you’ve outlined here?


Krishna: You will never feel hatred towards anyone; being always friendly and certainly very compassionate. You will never feel possessive, and never feel important. You will be patient, looking upon pleasure and pain with an equal eye. You will always feel satisfied; being ever linked to the divine. You will be self-disciplined and determined. Your emotions and thoughts will be enrapt in me. You will be in love with me, and I will be in love with you.

Arjuna: What qualities do you find most attractive?


Krishna: I am very attracted to anyone who never troubles others and never feels troubled by others; never driven by the urges of thrills, desperations, and fears.

Arjuna: Please say more, what else attracts you?


Krishna: I am very attracted to my devotee, who completely gives up all other aspirations and the disturbances they cause; a very neutral party, impartial, pure, and expertly balanced.

Arjuna: Are there other qualities you find attractive?


Krishna: I am very attracted to anyone who completely gives up everything desirable and undesirable for the sake of divine devotion; never lamenting and hating an undesirable situation, and never hungering and yearning for a desirable one.

Arjuna: Go on! Is there anything else?


Krishna: I am very attracted to anyone who, out of firm dedication to divine devotion, looks equally upon friends and enemies, honor and dishonor, hot and cold, pleasure and misery: equally rejecting the embrace of them all. Such a person is equally silent in the face of both insults and praise, because he or she is fully satisfied already, in any situation. They do not even require a roof over their heads!

Arjuna: Of all these beautiful qualities that attract you, which is the most compelling in evoking your heart?


Krishna: The most important quality that attracts my love is when a person fully puts their heart and soul into this blissful, immortal principle that I am the paramount object of their love and devotion.