|Thus there are
bhakti recognized in our scriptures. First of all, there is the broad division
into Para bhakti and Apara bhakti-the higher bhakti and the lower bhakti. The former
consists of meditation on the formless and unmanifested Brahman. It is the highest kind of
bhakti of which only a few are capable.
The Gita says: -
"The difficulty of those whose minds are set on the unmanifested is greater. For the
path of the unmanifested is hard for the embodied to reach."
So, for those who find it hard to meditate on the unmanifested Brahman, the so-called
lower bhakti or the love of the personal Isvara is recommended. For the God of love is not
the Absolute described as
Sat-Cit-Ananda by the philosopher and the mystic but Isvara, the
highest manifestation of that Absolute vouchsafed to the human spirit.
Thus the lower
bhakti takes the path of least resistance and sails smoothly along the human
currents of love and friendship and carries us safe to
the harbors of God. But even this type of bhakti has several degrees.
Though Sridhara, the
learned commentator on the
Bhagavata Purana says, that there are as many as eighty-one
degrees. For all practical purposes it is enough if we recognize the following three
well- marked degrees
Bahya-bhakti, Ananya-bhakti and Ekanta bhakti.