bhāv or bhāva - भाव

What Is the Meaning of Bhav?

It is a spiritual feeling (1) or attitude (2); devotion (3); the religious attitude of immersing oneself in the thought of God. (4)

According to Swami Kriyananda, bhav has multiple levels of meaning. It is the way one views God, and also the way one views oneself in relation to God. One can view God as wisdom, as love, or as a particular deity. Each of these is a type of bhav. (4)

For example:

When [Paramhansa Yogananda] was in the bhav, or attitude, of wisdom, he was like a Himalayan yogi in a cave. —Swami Kriyananda, A Handbook on Discipleship

Kriyananda also defines bhav in Rays of the Same Light:

In India, the religious attitude of immersing oneself in the thought of God is expressed by the word, bhavThis word has a double meaning. It is the mental image one holds of God; it is also the image one holds of himself in his relation to God.

Bhav concerns the devotional attitude of the devotee who seeks God above all for His love. The sincere devotee is not concerned with correctly defining God. How, indeed, could the human mind ever comprehend Him? It is not with our thoughts that we can reach Him, Who dwells beyond the farthest boundaries of thought. What we must do instead is visualize Him in a way that will inspire us to love Him deeply.

  1. Faith is My Armor, Devi Novak. Chapter 17, “Who Is Swami Kriyananda.”
  2. The Art and Science of Raja Yoga, Swami Kriyananda. Step Eight: II. Yoga Postures.
  3. Letter written by Swami Kriyananda for Lahiri Mahasaya’s birthday in 1995 (published June 2011).
  4. a b Rays of the Same Light, Swami Kriyananda. Chapter 35, “The Supreme Secret of Success.”