16 November 2009, 06:52 AM
Out of interest are there any Sanatana Dharma sects or schools that practice bhakti yoga without any form of Murthi, shrine or visual image? If so what are they called please?
16 November 2009, 08:25 AM
bhakti yoga is loving service to a personal god and is not possible to practice it without an ishta devata or chosen deity . the bhakta must have a mental picture of whom he is loving , to say the very least .
a person who does not have have any idea of god's form or believes in attributeless god cannot be a bhakti yogi .
the idea of bhakti yoga with a formless god is self contradictory .
i do not know of any such orders existing in india .
16 November 2009, 10:54 PM
Since the path of jnAna yoga is mostly personal (although there are group meditations), and that of bhakti yoga largely congregational (whatever form of God is worshipped), we might perhaps say that the following Hindu sects and organizations that have forms of congregational worship (although they don't worship mUrtis of gods), have provisions for the path of bhakti yoga to their members.
1. Arya SamAj: No worship in the form of a mUrti; no ancestor worship, priestcraft, pilgrimages; no belief in avatars, hereditary caste system. Daily worship is done by the sandhyA mantras and participating in the agnihotra fire sacrifice. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arya_Samaj)
2. RAmakRShNa Mission: Although reverence is paid to all religions and forms of mUrti worship, the RKM temples have only the images of their gurus--RAmaKrShNa paramahaMsa, VivekAnanda, and ShAradA devi--which are worshipped by pUjas and Arti daily. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramakrishna_Mission)
3. Brahmo SamAj: Brahmo literally means 'one who worships Brahman', although the NirguNa Brahman can never be worshipped--only meditated upon. Curiously, "The Brahmo Samaj, represents a body of men who are struggling, in India, to establish the worship of the Supreme Being in spirit as opposed to the prevailing idolatry of the land." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brahmo_Samaj)
4. PrArthana SamAj: This was a reform movement started in MahArAshtra, which has since developed into a Secret Society. Members of this group assemble to practice the path of devotion by singing hymns from Hindu Scriptures and old MarAthi poet-saints. A redeeming feature of this group is that in their assemblies, they eat meal cooked by low-caste members, and the bread baked by Christians and drink water brought by Muslims. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prarthana_Samaj)
5. Swadhyay Movement: aims at tranforming bhakti yoga into a path of kruti-bhakti (devotional service) rather than devotion to gods by pujas and rituals. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swadhyay_Movement)
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