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What is Parabhakti? I heard this term for the first time. What is the difference between Bhakti and Parabhakti? Are there any other types of Bhakti? How many types of Bhakti are there?

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In The Devi Bhagavatam, Devi Parvati gives the Definition of Para Bhakti.

11-20. Now hear attentively about the Parā Bhakti that I am now describing to you. He who hears always My Glories and recites My Name and whose mind dwells always, like the incessant flow of oil, in Me Who is the receptacle of all auspicious qualities and Guṇas. But he has not the least trace of any desire to get the fruits of his Karma; yea he does not want Sāmīpya, Sārṣṭi, Sāyujya, and Sālokya and other forms of liberations! He becomes filled with devotion for Me alone, worships Me only; knows nothing higher than to serve Me and he does not want final liberation even. He does not like to forsake this idea of Sevya (to he served) and Sevaka (servant who serves). He always meditates on Me with constant vigilance and actuated by a feeling of Supreme Devotion; he does not think himself separate from Me but rather thinks himself "that I am the Bhagavatī." He considers all the Jīvas as Myself and loves Me as he loves himself. He does not make any difference between the Jīvas and myself as he finds the same Caitanya everywhere and mainfested in all. He does not quarrel with anybody as he has abandoned all ideas about separateness; he bows down, and worships the Cāndālas and all the Jīvas. He who becomes filled with devotion to Me whenever he sees My place, My devotees, and hears the Sāstras, describing My deeds, and whenever he meditates on My Mantras, he becomes filled with the highest love and his hairs stand on their ends out of love to Me and tears of love flow incessantly from both his eyes; he recites My name and My deeds in a voice, choked with feelings of love for Me.

Such Is the Nature of Para Bhakti, Where the Devotee simply sees nothing other than his/her Ishta and Realizes their Ishta as their own self only. As a result their ego is completely dissolved and Their Bhakti culminates into the Realisation of Soham-asmi.

21-30. O Lord of the mountains! He worships Me with intense feeling as the Mother of this Universe and the Cause of all causes. He performs the daily and occasional duties and all My vows and sacrifices without showing any miserly feeling in his expenditure of money. He naturally longs to perform My festivities and to visit places where My Utsabs are held. He sings My name loudly and dances, being intoxicated with My love, and has no idea of egoism and is devoid of his body-idea, thinking that the body is not his. He thinks that whatever is Prārabdha (done in his previoas lives) must come to pass and therefore does not become agitated as to the preservation of his body and soul. This sort of Bhakti is called the Parā Bhakti or the Highest Devotion. Here the predominent idea is the idea of the Devī and no other idea takes its place. O Mountain! He gets immediately dissolved in My Nature of Consciousness whose heart is really filled with such Parā Bhakti or All Love. The sages call the limiting stage of this devotion and dispassion as Jñāna (knowledge). When this Jñāna arises, Bhakti and dispassion get their ends satisfied. Yea! He goes then to the Maṇi Dvīpa, when his Ahamkāra does not crop up by his Prārabdba Karma, though he did not fail to give up his life in devotion. O Mountain! That man enjoys there all the objects of enjoyments, though unwilling and at the end of the period, gets the knowledge of My Consciousness. By that he attains the Final Liberation for ever. Without this Jñāna, the Final Liberation is impossible.

~ Devi Bhagavatam, Book 7, Chapter 37

As for the Question, Are there other Types Of Bhaktis? Yes, And Devi Describes them in the same section too.

This Bhakti (devotion) again is of three kinds as the Guṇas are three. His Bhakti is Tāmasī who worships Me, to pain others, being filled with vanity and jealousy and anger. That Bhakti is Rājāsic, when one worships Me for one’s own welfare and does not intend to do harm to others. He has got some desire or end in view, some fame or to attain some objects of enjoyments and ignorantly, and thinking himself different from Me, worships Me with greatest devotion. Again that Bhakti is Sāttvikī when anybody worships Me to purify his sins, and offers to Me the result of all his Karmas, thinking that Jīva and Īśvara are separate and knowing that this action of his is authorized in the Vedas and therefore must be observed. This Sāttvikī Bhakti is different from the Supreme Bhakti as the worshippers think Me separate; but it leads to the Supreme Bhakti.

Similarly, This how Narada Purana describes the highest Bhakta-

अहमेव परो विष्णुर्मयिसर्वमिदं जगत्। इति यः सततं पश्येत्तं विद्यादुत्तमोत्तमम्॥ १५-१५०॥

If one perceives that 'I’m the परः विष्णुः (Supreme Vishnu), all the jagat exist within me'; always know to him (who perceives thus) as the उत्तमोत्तमः।

~ Narada Purana I.15.150

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How many types of Bhakti are there?

Skanda Purana Mentions Three Types of Visnu Bhakti - Sattvika, Rajasika and Tamasika.

  1. Listen to it attentively, O king. Listen to the eternal Bhakti in general and Bhakti to Viṣṇu in particular.

  2. ‘He (Viṣṇu) alone is the giver of absolute happiness and the breaker of the series of miseries.’ If any one thinks thus and resorts to him (the Lord), it is called Bhakti. It is of three types according to three Guṇas and (that which transcends these Guṇas and is thus) attributeless (Nirguṇa) is considered to be the fourth one.

83) The devotion of those who are overpowered by lust and anger and who do not see any other means shall be the Bhakti of Tāmasa variety, O king. It is conducive to the acquisition (of what they desire) as well as magical powers

84) The devotion that is resorted to for gaining extraordinary fame or overpowering a rival or incidentally for enjoyment in the other worlds is known as the Bhakti of Rājasa variety.

85-86a) The devotion is of the Sāttvika variety when it is pursued by one who knows the transitoriness of the worldly objects of pleasure and the comparative permanence of those of the other world and who, without giving up the (religious) duties prescribed for one’s own caste and stage in life, resorts to devotion only for the sake of self-realization.

86b-90) ‘The Lord of the universe himself (is identical with) this universe. There is no other cause (of this universe). I am not different from him. He does not abide separately from me. He is devoid of external attributes and adjuncts. He should be realized through an abundance of love.’ This form of Bhakti is very difficult to attain. It is conducive to salvation. It is called Advaita (non-dualistic) devotion.

Devotees go to the abode of Brahman by means of Sāttvikī Bhakti; to the world of Śakra (heaven) through the Rājasī Bhakti. After enjoying the pleasures (of the earth) the devotees of the Tāmasī Bhakti go to the world of Pitṛs. They return to Bhūrloka (Earth) and adopt a Bhakti other than the previous one. The devotee of Tāmasa variety adopts devotion of the Rājasa variety; and one of the Rājasa type adopts the Sāttvika variety. The devotee of Sāttvika type attains liberation after non-dualistic contemplation.

Skandapurana Book 2 - Vaiṣṇava-khaṇḍa - Section 2 - Puruṣottama-kṣetra-māhātmya - Chapter 10.

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In Hindu philosophy, Bhakti and Parabhakti are two terms that refer to different aspects of devotion or love towards the divine. Here's a breakdown of their meanings:

Bhakti: Bhakti refers to devotion or love towards a personal deity or a particular form of God. It involves developing a deep emotional and personal connection with the divine through acts of worship, prayer, rituals, and surrender. Bhakti is often characterized by intense feelings of love, devotion, and surrender to the chosen deity. It is considered a path to spiritual realization and liberation. Bhakti can be practiced in various forms, such as through chanting, singing hymns or bhajans, reading sacred texts, performing puja (ritual worship), and engaging in selfless service to the divine or others.

Parabhakti: Parabhakti, also known as supreme devotion or transcendental devotion, goes beyond the personal aspect of Bhakti. It refers to a state of complete selfless devotion and surrender to the divine, where the individual merges their own identity with that of the divine. It transcends the dualistic perception of the self and the divine and recognizes the inherent unity between the devotee and the divine. Parabhakti is often described as a state of non-duality, where the devotee realizes their own true nature as an expression of the divine. It is considered the highest form of devotion and leads to the experience of oneness and liberation.

While Bhakti focuses on personal devotion and love towards a particular deity, Parabhakti represents the ultimate realization of the devotee's identity with the divine and the dissolution of the individual ego.

Ref:- Bhagavad Gita: In Chapter 12, Verse 2, Lord Krishna describes the qualities of those who possess supreme devotion (Parabhakti), including being free from malice towards others, friendly and compassionate, free from possessiveness, and having a steady mind. Narada Bhakti Sutra: This text specifically explores the nature of devotion (Bhakti). It outlines different stages of Bhakti, such as Anukulyasya sankalpaḥ (favorable intention towards the divine), Mamatvaḥ (sense of possessiveness towards the divine), and Paripakvataḥ (maturity of devotion

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  • quora, Wikipedia, and blogs are not valid sources. You have to directly quote from Hindu scriptures on this platform. Jun 14, 2023 at 13:28
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    @AmritenduMukhopadhyay Bhagavad Gita: In Chapter 12, Verse 2, Lord Krishna describes the qualities of those who possess supreme devotion (Parabhakti), including being free from malice towards others, friendly and compassionate, free from possessiveness, and having a steady mind. Narada Bhakti Sutra: This text specifically explores the nature of devotion (Bhakti). It outlines different stages of Bhakti, such as Anukulyasya sankalpaḥ (favorable intention towards the divine), Mamatvaḥ (sense of possessiveness towards the divine), and Paripakvataḥ (maturity of devotion). Jun 14, 2023 at 13:36
  • You have to directly quote the verses with verse numbers and English translations. You can't just name the book. You have to find those verses. Jun 15, 2023 at 3:45

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