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Bhakti Yoga

Tales and Teachings from the Bhagavata Purana

Edwin F. Bryant

North Point Press

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ISBN10: 0865477752
ISBN13: 9780865477759

Trade Paperback

688 Pages



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Bhakti yoga has been by far the most common form of yoga practiced in India for more than two millennia. Although The Yoga Sutras of Patañjali has become the canonical text for yoga philosophy and practice in the West, few in India either presently or historically have actually read or even know about it. Most Hindus across the centuries have gained their yoga philosophy from the stories of great yogi exemplars found in the bhakti literature of the subcontinent.

In simplest terms, bhakti is the heartfelt practice of love and devotion to God. In Western yoga circles, the term is often associated with the increasingly popular practice of kirtana, or chanting in a group or at large gatherings. But bhakti yoga is far more complex and ancient, and embraces many strands and practices. Edwin F. Bryant focuses on one important school of bhakti as a way into understanding this practice in general. He explores a Krsna tradition in depth to show what bhakti is and how it is expressed. He supplies his own translations of central texts from the tradition in the form of tales and teachings drawn from arguably the most influential text on bhakti, called the Bhagavata Purana, or the Beautiful Legend of God. And he compares and contrasts them with the bhakti practices outlined in The Yoga Sutras of Patañjali.

This clarifying study establishes a baseline for understanding bhakti yoga, and will be welcomed by students and devotees of the spiritual heritage of India.

Features of this new edition:

-An extensive introduction to the definition and practices of bhakti
-Original Translations of key tales and teachings from the Bhagavata Purana
-Translations of some of the popular stories from Krsna’s incarnation
-Translation of the Bhakti Sutras
-Translation of the Siksastakam, the eight instructional verses on bhakti by Caitanya Mahaprabhu
-An essay on the Purana and Vedic literature
-A glossary, endnotes, and a bibliography


Praise for Bhakti Yoga

“Teachers and students, scholars and practitioners of religion like, will be sure to keep this volume on hand in their research and for the sake of practice.”—Francis X. Clooney, S.J., Director of the Center for the Study of World Religions, Harvard University

"Bryant is an accomplished, helpful, and humble guide to this intriguing tradition, which is still largely unexplored in the West."—Publishers Weekly


Read an Excerpt

Definition of Bhakti

We begin with a definition of bhakti yoga. But let us first briefly note that the impulse for taking up bhakti in the first place is the same as that for any aspiring yogi...

About the author

Edwin F. Bryant

Edwin F. Bryant studied at Manchester University and University of London and received his PhD from Columbia University. He has taught in the religion departments at Harvard University and Columbia University, and since 2001 has been an assistant professor of religion at Rutgers University. Bryant has written numerous scholarly articles and reviews and has written, edited, or translated eight books, including The Yoga Sutras of Patañjali: A New Edition, Translation, and Commentary, and a translation of the four thousand verses of the tenth book of the Bhagavata Purana called Krishna: The Beautiful Legend of God.