chapter  9
26 Pages

Bhakti

ByDavid N. Lorenzen

For over two thousand years the primary meaning of the word “bhakti” has been“personal devotion to a god or saintly person.” The noun bhakti is derived from a Sanskrit verb whose root sense is “to distribute” or “to share.” In a religious context, this sense is used to indicate the sharing of portions of a sacrificial offering. This meaning has been expanded to encompass such ideas as “to participate in,” “to experience,” “to feel,” “to honor,” and “to adore.” Another related noun, bhajana, usually means either “worship” or “a song of worship.” Finally, the noun bhakta or bhagata indicates “a devotee” who worships some god or saintly person.