Bhakti yoga (Devanāgarī: भक्ति योग) is is one of the types of yoga mentioned in Hindu philosophies which denotes the spiritual practice of fostering loving devotion (bhakti) to a personal form of God. The Bhagavad Gita and Bhagavata Purana are two important scriptures which explain and develop the attitude of bhakti.
Bhakti is a Sanskrit term that signifies an attitude of devotion to a personal God that is typically based on a number of human relationships such as beloved-lover, friend-friend, parent-child, and master-servant.[
The Bhagavata Purana teaches nine primary forms of bhakti, as explained by Prahlada:
(1) śravaṇa (“listening” to the scriptural stories of Kṛṣṇa and his companions), (2) kīrtana (“praising,” usually refers to ecstatic group singing), (3) smaraṇa (“remembering” or fixing the mind on Viṣṇu), (4) pāda-sevana (rendering service), (5) arcana (worshiping an image), (6) vandana (paying homage), (7) dāsya (servitude), (8) sākhya (friendship), and (9) ātma-nivedana(complete surrender of the self). (from Bhagata Purana, 7.5.23-24)
These nine principles of devotional service are described as helping the devotee remain constantly in touch with God. The processes of japa and internal meditation on the aspirant devotees’s chosen deity form (ishta deva) are especially popular in most bhakti schools. Bhakti is a yoga path, in that its aim is a form of divine, loving union with the Supreme Lord. The exact form of the Lord, or type of union varies between the different schools, but the essence of each process is very similar.
Navadha Bhakti – The Nine Steps of Devotion
In the Ramayana, Lord Rama explains the nine types of devotion or penance to Shabri:
श्रीराम जी ने शबरी को नवधा भक्ति के बारे में ज्ञान दिया था:
अवधी भाषा में (रामचरितमानस से)
नवधा भगति कहउं तोहि पाहीं। सावधान सुनु धरु मन माहीं॥
The nine steps of devotion, I impart to you. Listen you well and remember it always.
1. प्रथम भगति संतन्ह कर संगा।
Pratham Bhagati Santan kar sangaa
The first step to devotion (Bhakti) is to keep company of the saints (Satsang).
2. दुसरि रति मम कथा प्रसंगा॥
Doosri rati mam kathaa prasangaa
The second step is to enjoy listening to legends/discourses pertaining to the Lord.
3. गुरु पद पंकज सेवा तीसरि भगति अमान।
Guru pankaj seva, teesri bhakti amaan
Selfless service to the Guru’s lotus feet without any pride is the third step.
4. चौथि भगति मम गुन गन करइ कपट तजि गान॥
Chouthi Bhagati mam gun gaan, karai kapat tajee gaan
The fourth step is to earnestly sing praises of the Lord’s virtues with a heart clear of guile, deceit or hypocrisy.
5. मंत्र जाप मम दृढ़ बिस्वासा। पंचम भजन सो बेद प्रकासा॥
Mantra jaap mam dridh Visvaasaa, Pancham, bhajan jo Ved Prakaasaa
Chanting My Name with steadfast faith is the fifth step as the Vedas reveal.
6. छठ दम सील बिरति बहु करमा। निरत निरंतर सज्जन धरमा॥
Chattha dasa seela birati bahu karmaa, nirat nirantara sajjan dharma
The sixth, is to practice self-control, good character, detachment from manifold activities and always follow the duties as good religious person.
7. सातवँ सम मोहि मय जग देखा। मोतें संत अधिक करि लेखा॥
Saatvam sam mohi main jag dekhaa, motey sant adhik kar lekhaa
The seventh step is to perceive the world as God Himself and regard the saints higher than the Lord.
8. आठवँ जथालाभ संतोषा। सपनेहुं नहिं देखइ परदोषा॥
Aathvam jathaa laabh santoshaa, sapneu nahin, dekhai par doshaa
The eighth, is a state (which one arrives at when one travels the first seven steps) where there is no desire left, but the gift of perfect peace and contentment with whatever one has. (In this state) one does not see fault in others, even in a dream.
9. नवम सरल सब सन छलहीना। मम भरोस हिय हरष न दीना॥
Navam saral sab san chhal heena, mam bharos heenya harash na deenaa
In this state, one has full faith in the Lord, and becomes (child-like) simple with no hypocrisy or deceit. The devotee has strong faith in the Lord with neither exaltation or depression in any life circumstance (but becomes equanimous).
नव महुं एकउ जिन्ह कें होई। नारि पुरूष सचराचर कोई॥
सोइ अतिसय प्रिय भामिनी मोरें। सकल प्रकार भगति दृढ़ तोरें॥
Shri Ram adds that Shabri’s Bhakti is perfectly complete. Yet if anyone were to have taken even one step towards devotion, out of all nine, he/she would be very dear to the Lord.
BHAKTI & HER SONS
‘Mukti kise nahin chaahiye?’ (Who does not wish to be liberated from the cycles of birth and death?)
Once Sage Naradji felt dejected observing the sorry state of affairs in the world. He could not find truth, penance or compassion in it. He observed that man says something, feels something else and yet behaves in a different manner.
When Brahma-Putra Naradji arrived in Vrindaavan, he saw a young woman who had 2 very feeble sons, who seemed afflicted by a terrible illness. The young lady told Naradji that she was ‘Bhakti’(Devotion) And her two old sons were ‘Vairaagya’ (The Spirit of renunciation) And ‘Gyaan’ (Wisdom)
It is not difficult to find the symbolic message here.
In Kaliyuga where unrighteousness is the order of the day, the sons of Devotion, who are Renunciation and Wisdom are not in the pink of health. Naradji tried to cure the ill sons, by trying to wake them up from their stupor. Naradji whispered some truths into the ears of Vairaagya and Gyaan. They would wake up for a while to fade out again.
When Gyaan and Vairaagya did not recuperate from their illness, Naradji asked for help from various saints and sages. Naradji was informed that Gyaan and Vairaagya would revive and recover the minute they would hear the Shrimad Bhaagvad. Knowledge about Gyaan and Vairaagya is there, in the Vedas, But the language of the Vedas is deep and requires study.
if one reads the Shrimad Bhaagvad, and as a result, love emerges for Krishna the moment itself, then Renunciation and Wisdom is granted as free gifts. When one listens to the Divine words of Shrimad Bhaagvatham, Lord Shree Krishna enters through the ears into the heart .
The Bhagavad Gita
Engage your mind always in thinking of Me, become My devotee, offer obeisances to Me and worship Me. Being completely absorbed in Me, surely you will come to Me. (B-Gita 9.34)
One can understand Me as I am, as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, only by devotional service. And when one is in full consciousness of Me by such devotion, he can enter into the kingdom of God. (B-Gita 18.55) 
The scriptures tell us that in this modern age, the easiest path to the Godhead is through Bhakti Yoga, the Yoga of devotion. the most valuable thing of all is to develop intense love for God. Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa called this “Raga Bhakti” or passionate attachment to God. With this kind of bhav you will be able to achieve every and any success in life.
Let us cultivate that bhakti through kirtan, japa, puja, and all our spiritual practices. Do whatever is necessary to gain that bhakti, and if you can irrigate the garden of your heart with the waters of bhakti, then there will be no real effort required to develop dispassion. You will be simply transformed by your sincere devotion and communion with God that all the worldly desires, attachments, vasanas, and samskaras will just fall right away.
What good comes of dwelling on ones own faults and flaws? How difficult it may be to overcome through sheer willpower some problem or some attachment. How simple it is to just immerse oneself in the practice of puja and of Bhakti Yoga. As your heart melts in love of God, love toward all and compassion for all beings begins to dawn; ones own selfish desires and preoccupations will fall away.
Worshipping ought to be a personal experience. At the philosophical level, the object of worship is worship itself. Nothing is sought as the end result. However, in order to reach that advanced level, we need to begin and practice praying systematically so that our faith in the Supreme Being is gradually strengthened. To start with, the object of our prayer may be that the Almighty grant us the wisdom to enhance our faith in Him so that we may make a deeper commitment as bhaktas (devotees).
Faith is the critical element without which any ritual or religious practice is meaningless. To those who engage in worship of an ishtadevata (Godhead of one’s choice), Krishna has an unambiguous warning that is essential for us to note.
The message is found in verse 28 of Chapter 17
(Shraddhatraya Vibhaga Yoga) in the Gita.
Ashraddhayaa hutam dattam thapastaptham kritamcha yath
asad ithyuchyathe Paarttha na cha thath pretya no iha
Whatever is sacrificed, offered or performed and whatever austerity is practiced without faith & devotion, it is falsehood, O Arjuna. And, further, it is of no value either here or hereafter.