Origins of Bhakti Yoga

The Krishna Club practices an ancient form of Yoga, called Bhakti Yoga.  While most other types of yoga focus on bodily health, Bhakti Yoga’s primary focus is on the health of the soul through such practices as mantra meditation and philosophical study.  Practitioners also engage in kirtan, a melodic form of meditation very popular in contemporary yoga circles.

Bhakti Yoga is a way of life meant for everyone, regardless of religion, gender, nationality or creed.  Its origins are in ancient India. The philosophy was first brought to the West by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (commonly referred to as Srila Prabhupada) in the late 1960s. During a time when the “hippy” era was at its peak, with disgruntled youth who felt the need to rebel against the organization through the use of drugs and illicit activities, a sweet, simple saint from India was starting a revolution of his own, in New York City.

Srila Prabhupada was born in 1896 in Calcutta, India. He first met his spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami, in Calcutta in 1922. Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, a prominent devotional scholar and the founder of sixty-four branches of Gaudiya Mathas (Vedic institutes), liked this educated young man and convinced him to dedicate his life to teaching Vedic knowledge in the Western world. Srila Prabhupada became his student, and eleven years later (1933) at Allahabad, he became his formally initiated disciple.

In 1965, when he first arrived by freighter in New York City, Srila Prabhupada was practically penniless. It was after almost a year of great difficulty that he established Bhakti Yoga as a society, in July of 1966. Under his careful guidance, the Society grew within a decade to a worldwide confederation of almost one hundred asramas, schools, temples, institutes and farm communities. Today, there are hundreds of temples, restaurants, and farm communities in every major city of the world.

Srila Prabhupada’s most significant contribution, however, is his books. Highly respected by the academic community for their authoritativeness, depth and clarity, they are used as standard textbooks in numerous college courses. His writings have been translated into eleven languages. The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, established in 1972 exclusively to publish the works of His Divine Grace, has thus become the world’s largest publisher of books in the field of Indian religion and philosophy.

In the last ten years of his life, in spite of his advanced age, Srila Prabhupada circled the globe twelve times on lecture tours that have took him to six continents. In spite of such a vigorous schedule, Srila Prabhupada continued to write prolifically. His writings constitute a veritable library of Vedic philosophy, religion, literature and culture.

The Krishna Club shares Bhakti Yoga with York University students on a weekly basis – contact us for more details!

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