Bhakti and Sankirtan

(With Sandilya Bhakti Sutras–Text, Meaning and Commentary)

by Swami Sivananda

Buy this book | Online Bookstore |Go Back

Paperback: 207 pages
Book Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.35 inches
Shipping Weight: 220 grams

Table of Contents

Dedication (5)
Letter by Swami Sivananda (6)
Introduction (8)
Foreword (11)
Prayer for Darshan (13)
Prayer of a Devotee (14)
God is Truth (16)
Live Wisely (17)
Glory of God’s Name (18)
Peace Chant (20)
The Spiritual Path (21)
Spiritual Conquest (22)


1. God Exists 27

2. Power of Prayer

3. Importance of Worship 31
4. Pratima or Symbol 32
5. Bhajan 33
6. Upasana 35
7. Puja 39
8. Manasika Puja 39
9. Four Kinds of Bhavas 40
10. Yearn for God-vision 41
11. Self-surrender 42
12. Stages in Bhakti 45


1. What Is Love? 46
2. Gospel of Love 48
3. Faith 51
4. The Lover’s Path 56
5. Viraha 60
6. Gopis’ Love for Krishna 65
7. God Becomes a Slave of Bhaktas 68
8. Avataras 70
9. Philosophy of the Word Radha 73
10. Glory of a Bhagavata 75


1. Drink the Essence 78
2. Sow the Spiritual Seed in Youth 80
3. Anyone Can Become a Bhakta 82
4. Do Not Bargain With God 83
5. Ishvarapranidhana 83
6. Sweet Are the Uses of Adversity 84
7. Method of Combination 86


1. What Is Sankirtan 88
2. Science of Sankirtan 89
3. Benefits of Sankirtan 92
4. Sankirtanists, Wake Up! 95
5. Canker in Sankirtan 97
6. Akhanda Kirtan 99




1. Importance of Guru Bhakti 132
2. Bhakti Yoga in a Nutshell 136
3. Prema Yoga 137
4. Puja or Worship 140
5. Prasad Mahima 144
6. Worship of Lord Subrahmanya 145
7. Worship of Lord Ganesa 148




1. Life of Prahlada 167
2. Life of Narada 176
3. Life of Dhruva 178
4. Life of Ratnakar 180
5. Life of Jagai and Madhai 180
6. Story of a Thief 181
7. Life of Namdev 181
8. Story of Puja with Two Cats 181
9. The Story of Ambarisha 182


1. Bhakti Yoga Prasnottari 186
2. Bhakti Yoga Alphabets 193
3. Glory of Ram Nam 194
4. The Maha Kumbha Mela 196
5. Origin of “Sri Ram” Mantra 199
6. Divine Namapathy 201
7. Glory of Ekadasi 203
8. The Four Stages of Sound 206


Dedicated to all Aspirants
Treading the Path of Devotion


Ananda Kutir,
6th August 1941.

Dear Narayan,

Bhakti is supreme love of God. It is the Kohinoor in the crown of devotees. It blossoms afterwards into Jnana. It leads to immortality or God-realisation.

Cultivate it through Satsanga, Japa, Kirtan, Prayer, Meditation and Service of Bhaktas.

Life without devotion is real death. Remember Prahlada, Dhruva. You will draw inspiration.

Worldliness, Vasanas, cravings, pride, attachment, egoism and lust are enemies of devotion. Kill them. Do total self-surrender unto the Lord.

May your heart be filed with devotion. May you abide in the Lord for ever and ever.



Ananda Kutir
8th August 1941.

Beloved Govind,

Kirtan is singing Lord’s Name. It is the easiest, surest and safest way for attaining God.

Kirtan is nectar. Kirtan is divine food for the soul. Kirtan can make you immortal.

Sing the Maha-Mantra,

Hare Rama Hare Rama,
Rama Rama Hare Hare;
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna,
Krishna Krishna Hare Hare.

May you attain God through Kirtan.



The world is now passing through a great crisis due to the present wars. Rajasic evil forces of materialism are flying aloft in the sky deluding the people with fears and anxieties and keeping them in the dark about the existence of the inner Atmic treasure and Supreme Bliss within. People look upon religion with contempt. Ignorance prevails everywhere. There is lack of faith in the Vedic scriptures or there has been a misunderstanding of it in some quarters. People interpret religion to suit their taste and convenience. They pretend to know everything.

In fact, there is no spiritual growth in most of the people now-a-days. There is no real education. There is no culture. There is no ethical training. When the lamp of knowledge–the lamp of devotion to God–is lit up then all these dark forces of Rajas will fly away and there will be peace, harmony, good understanding and universal brotherhood. Sattva will reign supreme and there will be happiness everywhere.

The book “Bhakti and Sankirtan” contains very useful instructions for the students in the path of Bhakti Yoga. First of all, I have proved with practical illustrations the existence of God for the conviction of rank materialists and atheists. The first chapter contains the essence of Bhakti Sadhana. I have stressed the importance of worship, Bhajan, Upasana, Manasic Puja, etc., as a means to develop highest devotion.

In the second chapter I have dealt with the subject of “Love” in detail,–the various methods for developing love, the glory of true universal love, etc. Here I have also shown that faith is the primary requisite in the development of Bhakti. In this chapter, Viraha or separation of the devotee from his Lord, the sufferings the devotee will have to undergo before he gets God-vision and the various methods of Sadhana suited to achieve this end, have been clearly shown.

The third chapter contains some of the essentials in the path of devotion. The efficacy of practical Sadhana to the exclusion of all vain discussions have been pointed out here. The qualifications of a devotee, when and how devotion should be practised, how adversity or pain alone can give real spiritual progress and a stimulus for the continuance of Sadhana, etc., have been shown in detail.

The science of Sankirtan, the benefits of Sankirtan and how to conduct Akhanda Kirtan have all been discussed with many instructions for Sankirtanists in the fourth chapter. The condition of the present day Sankirtan is also reviewed here briefly.

Chapter five gives the Bhakti Sutras of Sandilya with text, meaning and commentary. Chapter six and seven deal with songs and Sankirtan Dhvanis. The essence of devotion, Bhakti, the necessity for treading the spiritual path and other subjects have been dealt with, in the songs which will be much helpful to the aspirants because they can assimilate things in the form of songs very easily. The last chapter gives an account of the lives of some great devotees of the past like Prahlada, Dhruva and Narada, which will be a source of inspiration to all the aspirants. Stories and lives of great personages inspire a man to magnanimous heights, especially when the forces of Rajas overpower the aspirant. He will have extreme disgust, depression, delusion and doubts in his spiritual pursuit. He will begin to doubt the very existence of God. At such moments especially, if one goes through the lives of great men and knows how they conducted themselves in such circumstances, how they got over the various difficulties in the path, he will also have the same strength and will-power to get over all difficulties one by one and attain the goal of life, immortality or perennial joy.

I hope the present book will be a boon to the aspirants who wish to attain the goal of life by treading the path of devotion. All Sadhakas meet on the platform whichever path they may proceed. God or Brahman is the only reality. This world is a mere show. Realise this and become free in this very birth.

May you all tread the path of devotion and ever rest in the state of divine ecstasy and unalloyed bliss of Joy and happiness!


11th May, 1941.


The Bhakti Sutras of Rishi Sandilya are as much useful to the aspirants in the path of devotion as the Bhakti Sutras of Narada. Each Sutra is a gem of incalculable value. There is depth of thought in every Sutra. These Sutras treat in a beautiful manner about the nature of devotion, culture of devotion, the forms of devotion, the Adhikaris or persons who are fit to tread the path of devotion, the object of devotion and the fruit of devotion.

There are 84 aphorisms in Narada Bhakti Sutras.Sandilya Bhakti Sutras contain 100 aphorisms. A Sutra is a terse short verse in Sanskrit which is pregnant with deep meaning. Great philosophical thoughts are condensed in a Sutra. A Sutra is a string on which are studded deep philosophical gems of thoughts. Rishis of India have all expressed their thoughts and spiritual experiences in the form of Sutras. Realised souls only with deep inner sight and clear intuition can write Sutras. We cannot understand these Sutras without the help of a lucid and exhaustive commentary.

Rishi Narada shows in his Sutras that there is difference between Jiva and God but Rishi Sandilya points out their oneness.

The Bhakti Sutras of Sandilya contain three chapters. Each chapter has two parts. In the first part of chapter I, Rishi Sandilya gives a definition of devotion and states that devotion is different from knowledge and that supreme devotion or Para Bhakti leads to the attainment of Oneness and Immortality. In the second part of chapter I, he discusses about the nature of Bhakti, Yoga and Jnana and their inter-relations. In the first part of chapter II, he points, out that knowledge is the internal means and the lower kind of devotion is the external means of Bhakti. In the second part, he gives an elaborate description of the secondary acts of devotion (Gauna Bhakti) which are the causes of supreme devotion (Mukhya or Para Bhakti). In the first part of the third chapter, he deals with the object of devotion. In the second part he points out that the Jiva or the individual soul realises the oneness with the Lord through supreme devotion and attains the final emancipation.

Should we not then devotedly express our keen sense of gratitude to our venerable Rishi Sandilya who has churned out the butter of Bhakti Sutras from the ocean of Bhakti literature for our assimilation and easy absorption?

Glory to our revered Rishi Sandilya who has shown us the easy way to develop Bhakti and attain the final emancipation. May his blessings be upon us all.


4th July, 1941.


O All-merciful Lord! Time is fleeting. The senses are revolting. The mind is jumping. Maya is deluding. The three fires are burning. The five afflictions are tormenting. Friends are disturbing. Diseases are troubling. Heat of the summer is scorching. Flies, mosquitoes, bugs, scorpions, are teasing me in the extreme. The charms of the world are tempting. I can neither concentrate nor meditate. I cannot do anything in the spiritual path without Thy benign grace. O Lord! Thou art an ocean of mercy. Bless me. If I get a drop from that ocean of mercy, will it dry up?

O Adorable Lord! People proclaim that Thou art Dinabandhu, Dinanath, Kripanidhan, Kripa Sagar, Anatha Rakshak. Thou hast saved Ahalya, Draupadi, Prahlada, Dhruva, Gajendra, but in my case, Thou hast not done anything. I am still in pain, agony and darkness. I am crying for Thy grace and help. Where hast Thou gone, O absentee landlord of this world? O Self-effulgent Lord! The fish cannot live without water. The sun-flower cannot live without the Sun. The Pativrata cannot live without her husband. The mind cannot live without Prana. The flame of the lamp cannot live without oil. So also I cannot live without Thee, O Lord! Come, come, enthrone Thyself in my heart. Thou art the Prana of my Pranas. Thou art the Soul of my soul! Pray, bless me. Give me Darshan! I cannot bear the pain of separation any longer!


O Beauty! O Spiritual Imperishable, Inexhaustible Wealth! O Sweet Honey! O the Light of Heavens! O the Light of Devas or celestial beings, O my dear relative, Thou art my body, Thou art the inner heart of the body. Thou art the indweller of this body, Thou art the ovum, Thou art the germinal cell. Thou art the very life-element. Thou art the foetus that dwells in the womb of the mother. Thou art my eye. Thou art the black portion of the eye. Thou art the inner pupil that moves within the eye. Protect me. Let not evil touch me. Let me forget this world. Let me remember Thee always. Take me to Thy sweet bosom. Make me to dwell in Thee for ever.

O hidden Love that pervades all objects, O Power that sustains this vast universe, O Self-luminous Light that gives light to the Sun, the moon, the stars and the intellect, O Adorable Lord of this universe! O Deva of the Devas, O Lord of the lords, Thou art the womb of the Vedas. Thou art the Director or Governor of this universe. Thou art the life of my life, the Soul of my soul, Prana of Pranas, the Mind of my mind, the Eye of my eyes, the Ear of my ears. Thou art the beauty in flowers and landscapes. Thou art the charm in the face and skin. Thou art the Pranava of the Vedas. Thou art sweet silence. Thou art Peace that dwells in the heart, Thou art Eternal Bliss. Thou art knowledge, the destroyer of Avidya or ignorance. Thou art bestower of immortality, Thou art purity, the destroyer of cupid. Thou art the Supreme Light of lights that dispels the darkness of nescience, doubt and delusion. Thou art illimitable joy that removes pain, grief, sorrow and misery. Thou art Amritam or Nectar. Thou art Satyam, Jnanam, Anantam, Nitya, Anadi, Advaita, Akhanda, Paripoorna and Satchidananda.

O Thou Invisible One! O Adorable One! O Supreme! Thou permeatest and penetratest this vast universe from the unlimited space down to the tiny blade of grass at my feet. Thou art the basis for all these names and forms. Thou art the Apple of my eye, Prema of my heart, the very Life of my life, the very Soul of my soul, the Illuminator of my intellect and senses, the sweet Anahata music of my heart, and the substance of my physical, mental and causal frames.

I recognise Thee alone as the Mighty Ruler of this universe and the Inner Controller of my three bodies. I prostrate again and again before Thee, my Lord. Thou art my sole refuge. I trust Thee alone, O ocean of mercy and love. Elevate. Enlighten. Guide. Protect. Remove obstacles from my spiritual path. Remove the veil of ignorance. O Thou Jagadguru! I cannot bear any longer, even for a second, the miseries of this body, this life and this Samsara. Give Darshan quickly. O Prabho! I am pining, I am melting. Listen, listen, listen to my fervent, Antarika prayer. Do not be cruel, my Lord. Thou art Dinabandhu. Thou art Adhama Uddharana. Thou art Patita Pavana (purifier of the fallen).

O magnificent Lord of love and compassion! O Fountain Head of bliss and knowledge! Thou art the eye of this world. Thou art the unseen seer, the unheard hearer, the unthought thinker and the unknown knower. Pray, deliver me from all temptations. Give me light, purity and knowledge.


God is Truth. Truth is God. Speak the truth at any cost. Truth alone triumphs but not falsehood–Satyameva Jayate Nanritam. A truthful man is absolutely free from worries and anxieties. Truth is higher than the Vedas, Upanishads, Yajnas, etc. Do not utter lies to get position, respect, name, etc. Punish yourself by fasting and doing Japa of 50 Maalas if you tell a lie, with a repenting heart, making a resolve not to commit the same mistake again. Harmlessness, justice, equality, self-control, humility, unpretentiousness, rectitude, steadfastness, self-determination, self-sacrifice, forgiveness, fearlessness, cleanliness of life, straightforwardness, absence of wrath, renunciation, absence of crookedness, uncovetousness, modesty, absence of fickleness, endurance, charity, absence of jealousy, disinterested philanthropy, self-possession, fortitude, purity, vigour, absence of pride, are all forms of Truth.

Realise God by speaking truth and observing truth in thought, word and deed. If you speak the truth for twelve years you will have Vak-siddhi. Then there will be power in your speech. Whatever you say will come to pass.

Make a strong determination in the morning: “I will speak truth today.” Study the lives of Harischandra, Mahatma Gandhi and others. Keep daily spiritual diary and mark the number of lies you tell daily. Gradually the number of lies will be reduced. Eventually you will speak nothing but truth.

Penetrate more deeply into the kingdom of Truth. Aspire to realise Truth. Sacrifice your all for Truth. Speak the Truth. Die for Truth. Truth is life. Truth is existence. Truth is knowledge. Truth is bliss. Truth is silence. Truth is peace. Truth is light. Truth is love. Live to know the truth. Live to realise the Truth. May that Truth guide you in all your actions.


Minus skin, minus dress, minus ornaments, woman is nothing. Just imagine for a moment that her skin is removed. You will have to stand by her side with a long stick to drive away crows and vultures. Physical beauty is superficial, illusory and fading. It is skin-deep only. Do not be deluded by external appearances. It is the jugglery of Maya. Go to the source Atman, the beauty of beauties, the everlasting beauty.

If your hairs become grey, that is the first warrant from lord Yama, the god of Death. You must get yourself ready to meet him. The wrinkles on the face and the bending of the body will remind you of the warrant. When the teeth fall and the eye-sight becomes dim, you must be fully prepared now to greet him. You will get three hiccups or final passing-breaths lying on the bed. When the last hiccup comes all your possessions will be taken away by your sons and partners. One will run after the savings bank pass-book and another will take hold of the cash chest, another your provident fund papers and insurance claim papers, another the ornaments that lie on your person and so on. Such is life on this earth plane. Why can you not see that the money is spent on charitable purposes such as dissemination of spiritual knowledge and the service of the poor and the sick, etc.? Friend! Try to attain immortality through devotion, meditation, purity, service, Japa, prayer and enquiry. All troubles and miseries will come to an end.


1. The Name is your sole refuge in Kaliyuga
The Name is your prop, shelter and abode,
The Name is your spiritual preceptor,
The Name is your friend and companion.

2. The bestower of eternal bliss is the Name,
Name and Naami are inseparable,
God and His Name are one,
Name is the supreme Divine Nectar.

3. Name is Chintamani or Kalpa-Vriksha,
It gives Siddhi, Bhakti and Mukti,
It checks the mind-wandering,
And unites the aspirant with the Supreme.

4. Name is the crest-jewel that adorns a Bhakta.
It takes the aspirant to the Immortal Abode,
It kindles the inner spiritual flame,
It generates pure Divine Love.

5. It is the divine ladder that lifts you to the Lord,
It illumines the aspirants’ path,
It eradicates, fear, sorrow and pain,
It washes the impurities of the mind.

6. Roll the beads with the Name,
Repeat the Name with no break,
Associate the Name with the breath,
And sing the Name with joy.

7. OM Namo Narayanaya, Om Namah Sivaya are the Names,
Sita Ram, Radheshyam, OM, are also the Names,
Select any Name you like best,
And repeat it with Bhava, faith and Prem.

8. Mira attained Krishna through the Name,
Tuka saw Vittal through the Name,
Prahlada made Narasimha incarnate through Name,
Glory to Name! Glory to Hari! Glory to Rama, Krishna!!

9. O Sweet Name, O Adorable Name, O Immortal Name,
Let me be intoxicated with the Name,
Let me remember the Name for ever,
Let me abide for ever in the Name.

10. O Omnipotent Name, O All-merciful Name,
Salutations to the Name, Adorations to the Name,
Let me have full Ruchi or taste for the Name,
Let me be established in the Name.

11. O Name! Thou art my father, mother and guide,
Thou art the dispeller of ignorance and sorrow,
Thou art the bestower of immortality and bliss,
I take refuge in Thee, protect me, O Name!


1. Ayam Atma Santo,
This Atman is Peace:
So declare the Upanishads,
Om Santih Santih Santih.

2. Santam, Sivam, Advaitam,
Peaceful, auspicious, non-dual,
Is the Supreme Self or Brahman,
Om Santih Santih Santih.

3. Be still, and feel the mystic thrill
Behind the apparent chaos,
There is the ocean of Peace,
Om Santih Santih Santih.

4. Thou art an embodiment of Peace:
Feel this by silencing the thoughts,
Nothing can disturb thee now,
Om Santih Santih Santih

5. The mind is a bundle of Vasanas and Sankalpas;
The Vasanas are the fuel,
The Sankalpas are the fire,
Om Santih Santih Santih.

6. Withdraw the fuel of Vasanas,
The fire of Sankalpas will be extinguished:
Enjoy the Supreme Peace now,
Om Santih Santih Santih.

7. Dive deep in the ocean of Peace,
Bring out the priceless Atmic Pearl,
And cross the ocean of Samsara,
Om Santih Santih Santih.


1. Like the edge of a sharp razor,
Is the spiritual path.
Be on the alert,
When you tread the path.

2. Storms and tempests come on the way,
Be firm, be steady, be bold;
Keep your helm all right,
You will surely reach the shore.

3. That shore is the kingdom of Eternal Peace!
Thy immortal abode of Bliss and Nectar,
The city of deathlessness,
The non-dual domain of sages!

4. Stick to your ideal and goal,
Introspect, look within,
Do self-analysis, watch the thoughts,
Curb them by slow degrees.

5. Keep daily spiritual diary,
Correct the mistakes,
Review the actions of the day,
Compare it with that of the previous month.

6. Make fresh resolve daily,
“I will be patient to-day,
I will be a Brahmacharin.”
Thus go a step nearer the goal.

7. Be regular in your meditation,
March on steadily,
Reach the goal of life,
And shine as a dynamic Yogi.


1. Subdue your little Self,
Keep the heart pure,
Build the bridge of love,
Enter the Kingdom of Peace.

2. Be moderate in food,
Control the senses,
Conquer your lower mind,
March on the path of Immortality.

3. Learn to discriminate,
Learn to despise sensual objects,
Learn to give what you have,
Learn to look within.

4. Transmute sex-impulse into pure love,
Rise above sex and body,
Live in the Immortal Soul,
Attain everlasting life.

5. Get release from birth and death,
Abide in peace for ever and ever,
Now the mind cannot trouble you,
You can rest in Thy Svarupa.

6. Thou art free now,
Thou art perfect now,
Thou art illumined now,
Thou art a Jivanmukta now.

Buy this book | Online Bookstore |Go Back

You may like it