An Arya Samaji recently claimed to me that the Vedas do not talk about bhakti-yoga but only jnana-yoga and karma-yoga. Is he right to say that the concept of bhakti is not present in the Vedas.
Note: Please do not quote from sectarian Upanishads.
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There are verses which clarify the presence of devotion(bhakti) in vedas:—
- Prayers have been offered up- through love of glory: Vasishtha, honour Indra in the battle! He who with fame extends through all existence hears words which I, his faithful servant, utter.
- A thousand and a hundred steeds are harnessed to thy golden car: Yoked by devotion, Indra, let the long-maned bays bring thee to drink the Soma juice!
- We compass these like waters, we whose grass is trimmed and Soma pressed. Here where the filter pours its stream, thy worshippers round thee, O Vritra-slayer, sit.
- Indra whose wealth is in thyself, what mortal will attack this man? The strong will win the spoil on the decisive day through faith in thee, O Maghavan!
3 By worship of the Gods may we, O Bounteous One, O Rudra, gain thy grace, Ruler of valiant men. Come to our families, bringing them bliss: may we, whose heroes are uninjured, bring thee sacred gifts,
— Rigveda:book1:HYMN CXIV.3
3 Auspicious are the Sun's Bay- coloured Horses, bright, changing hues, meet for our shouts of triumph. Bearing our prayers, the sky's ridge have they mounted, and in a moment speed round earth and heaven.
— Rigveda:book1:HYMN CXV.3
Well the word bhakti's refrence occour in shwetaswatra upnishad:— https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhakti
यस्य देवे परा भक्तिः यथा देवे तथा गुरौ । तस्यैते कथिता ह्यर्थाः प्रकाशन्ते महात्मनः ॥ २३ ॥
He who has highest Bhakti of Deva (God), just like his Deva, so for his Guru (teacher), To him who is high- minded, these teachings will be illuminating.
— Shvetashvatara Upanishad 6.23
It's mostly correct that Vedas don't talk much about Bhakti or devotion. But some glimpses (of Bhakti) can still be found.
In the Veda, the relationship between the Gods and human beings is not that of a king and his subjects. The seeker regards God Indra as his friend, father or son.
Indra is the friend who gives joy, (mandayat sakham) - RV 1.4.7
Indra, we are seeking your friendship, we desire you alone. - RV 1.133.26
O Indra develop in you the will power just as a father trains his son - RV 7.32.26
O Indra, coming together let us converse - RV 1.30.6
We as friends, call Indra for our increase - RV 1.30.7
You may think in anyway, being pleased you may grant me , my wishes. But i do not desire. Only be pleased, O Indra. - RV 8.45.31
We do not regard ourselves as sinners, indigent or ignorant, since we regard ourselves as friends of the showerer Indra doing our work. - RV8.61.11.
O Indra, you are superior to father or brother. You are same as my mother. - RV 8.1.6
Similarly, all the 14 Mantras of Sukta 1.94, stress Agni's friendship and the help of Agni. All the Mantras end with :
O Agni, may we not suffer separation in our friendship
Samsad agne mA rishAma vayam tava - RV 1.94.1
NOte: Here RV denotes Rig Veda.