Bhakti Yoga explores one of the eight “limbs” of yoga. In the simplest terms, bhakti yoga is the practice of devotion, which is the essential heart of yoga and of Hinduism in general. In recent times, the term has come to be used in a rather simplistic way to refer to the increasingly popular practice of kirtan, or chanting in a group or at large gatherings. But bhakti yoga is far more complex and ancient than today’s growing kirtan audiences are aware, and embraces many strands and practices. Edwin F. Bryant focuses on one famous and important school of bhakti and explores it in depth to show what bhakti is and how it is expressed. And he supplies his own renderings of central texts from that tradition in the form of “tales and teachings” from an important work called the Bhagavata Purana, or “The Beautiful Legend of God.” This clarifying work establishes a baseline for understanding, and will be welcomed by all serious students of the spiritual heritage of India.
Written almost two millennia ago, Patañjali's work focuses on how to attain the direct experience and realization of the purusa: the innermost individual self, or soul. As the classical treatise on the Hindu understanding of mind and consciousness and on the technique of meditation, it has exerted immense influence over the religious practices of Hinduism in India and, more recently, in the West.
Edwin F. Bryant's translation is clear, direct, and exact. Each sutra is presented as Sanskrit text, transliteration, and precise English translation, and is followed by Bryant's authoritative commentary, which is grounded in the classical understanding of yoga and conveys the meaning and depth of the sutras in a user-friendly manner for a Western readership without compromising scholarly rigor or traditional authenticity. In addition, Bryant presents insights drawn from the primary traditional commentaries on the sutras written over the last millennium and a half.