What is the Navavidha Bhakti?


Navavidha Bhakti

Shrimad Bhagavatam 7.5:23-24

sri-prahrada uvaca sravanam kirtanam visnoh smaranam pada-sevanam arcanam vandanam dasyam sakhyam atma-nivedanam iti pumsarpita visnau bhaktis cen nava-laksana kriyeta bhagavaty addha tan manye 'dhitam uttamam

Prahlada Maharaja said: Hearing and chanting about the transcendental holy name, form, qualities, paraphernalia and pastimes of Lord Visnu, remembering them, serving the lotus feet of the Lord, offering the Lord respectful worship with sixteen types of paraphernalia, offering prayers to the Lord, becoming His servant, considering the Lord one's best friend, and surrendering everything unto Him (in other words, serving Him with the body, mind and words) -- these nine processes are accepted as pure devotional service. One who has dedicated his life to the service of Krsna through these nine methods should be understood to be the most learned person, for he has acquired complete knowledge.

From this it is clear about the meaning of nava-vidha bhakti. It is the various ways in which Lord can be worshipped. Here are some examples I can think of for such devotees.

  1. Shravanam - Listening - example: Parkishit Maharaj, who attained liberation, by listening to the glory of Lord Krishna towards the end of His days on Earth.
  2. Kirtanam - Singing - example: Lord Chaitanya, who spread the worship through Sankritana of Hare Rama Hare Krishna.
  3. Vishnu Smaranam - Thinking of God day and night - example: Lord Hanuman, whose every hair was found to be vibrating with the name of Lord Rama.
  4. Pada sevanam - Servitude to the feet of the Guru/God - example: Lakshmana, whose service to His brother Sri Rama is unparalleled.
  5. Archanam - Adoring the beauty of God - example: Gopikas
  6. Vandanam - Worshipping God - example: Prahlada
  7. Dasyam - Having the attitude of a servant to His master.
  8. Sakhyam - Having the attitude of a friend toward God.
  9. Atma Nivedhanam - Complete self-surrender toward God. (Example: Sri Radha)

Five Bhavas

Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita 19.185

santa, dasya, sakhya, vatsalya, madhura-rasa naya krishna-bhakti-rasa madhye ei pa-ca pradhana "The chief transcendental mellows experienced with the Supreme Personality of Godhead are five — santa, dasya, sakhya, vatsalya and madhura.

Shanta Bhava - attitude of saint, a peaceful attitude towards God.

Sannyasi Bhaktas have Santa Bhava. A Bhakta of Santa Bhava type is not emotional. He does not exhibit much emotions. He cannot dance and weep and yet his heart is full of intense devotion. Sri Aurobindo Maharaj prefers this type and considers dancing and weeping as a kind of weakness.

Vatsalya Bhava - attitude of a parent toward God.

In Vatsalya Bhava, the devotee takes Lord Krishna as his son, a boy of ten years. The attractive features of this Bhava is that the devotee gets rid of all fears as he is the father of Krishna and destroys all kinds of selfish motives as he cannot expect anything from his small son. The followers of Vallabhacharya entertain Vatsalya Bhava.

Dasya Bhava - attitude of a servant toward God.

In Dasya Bhava, the devotee thinks that he is the servant and Lord Krishna or Rama is his master. Sri Hanuman had this Bhava. In Ayodhya the vast majority of persons have this Bhava. They have their names as Ram Das, Sitaram Das, etc.

Sakhya Bhava - attitude of a friend toward God.

In Sakhya Bhava, the devotee takes Lord Krishna as his friend. This Bhava demands purity, boldness, understanding and courage. Ordinary people will find it difficult to have this Bhava. But when Bhakti develops and matures, the Bhava comes by itself. Arjuna had this Bhava. There is equality in this Bhava between the worshipper and the worshipped. Sakhya Bhava is a mild type of Vedantic meditation. It will culminate in identity. Then the devotee says: "Gopaloham-I am Gopala."

Madurya Bhava - attitude of a beloved toward God.

In Madhurya Bhava, the Bhaktas entertain the idea of the lover and the beloved. He regards himself as the wife of Rama or Krishna. The Mohammedan sufis also entertain this kind of mental attitude. In Brindavan, Mathura and Nadiad, you will find a large number of Bhaktas with Madhurya Bhava. They dress themselves like ladies and behave and speak exactly like ladies also. They dance a lot till they get Murchha Avastha (swoon) and fall down in great exhaustion.

All quotes are from Sri Swami Sivananda from the reference: Bhava in Bhakti by Sri Swami Sivananda

Which spiritual book (of any saint) discusses Bhakti marg in more detail

Here are some:

  1. Gospel Of Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa.
  2. Bhakti Yoga by Sri Swami Sivananda

References: (Thanks to Keshav)

Please refer to Keshav's links below for more relevant resources and more examples of the nine types of devotion and five types of bhava. Thanks Keshav !!

Note: “The question: What is the Navavidha Bhakti?” is licensed by Stack Exchange Inc (; user contributions licensed under CC BY-SA.