Many times people mix up sheer emotionalism and Bhakti. Many times we find reckless sentimentalism wearing the garb of Bhakti or devotion. One needs to understand that such loud display of emotions is only a disturbance in society. Loud emotional display has always been linked with Bhakti over aeons and this is true misconstrual of Bhakti. Various Yoga Systems have been used in alignment with various facets of human nature and then used as a tool to attain the Ultimate. When one uses one’s life-energies to attain that which is ultimate it is called Kriya Yoga. When one uses one’s intelligence to determine reality, it is called Jnana Yoga. When uses one’s breath to go deeper within oneself to determine reality, it is an aspect of Ashtanga Yoga. When one uses the aspect of surrendering one’s emotions to the Ultimate and thus attaining that which is beyond all conceptions, it s called Bhakti Yoga.
Bhakti Yoga means using one’s emotions to realize the Absolute Truth. However it does not mean that when one displays emotional outburst, it has got anything to do with higher attainment. The Bhagavat Gita clearly states that when one surrenders one’s mind internally to the Guru and Krishna, it represents one’s entry into the domain of Bhakti. Bhakti begins with faith and surrender. This is not whimsically done without understanding. When a person takes the shelter of a realized master in Bhakti Yoga, one simply surrenders one’s persistent nature to Guru and slowly becomes free of compulsive behaviour. As human beings, we are fundamentally controlled by our compulsive thoughts and emotions that have been accumulated within our system since time immemorial. This is that aspect that keeps us bound to material nature forever.
However when one decides to free oneself from such compulsiveness one takes to the path of Bhakti. Compulsiveness means the compulsive behaviour of having been born as a human which may appear natural, but in reality the cause of all disturbances and chaos in one’s personal life and the world. Typical example of compulsive human behaviour is unbridled attachment to one’s family and so-called dear ones, believing that one is the body, being extremely fearful of both life and death at the same time, ignorantly being swayed away by the senses and sense objects. When one takes to the path of Bhakti, one is immediately freed of these perils and gets established in Truth. However it is seen that many so-called practitioners of Bhakti display unparalleled attachment to the Absolute truth and always seem to be displaying seemingly elevated moods of Bhakti . However when one is observant , it is seen that such individuals are very low in moralistic behaviour and many times display way-word materialistic tendencies which cause harm to others. Such persons also appear bombastic and extremely lop-sided and partial in their mannerisms. This behaviour simply does not represent one who is imbued with Bhakti rasa or one who is truly infused with the mellows of Bhakti. Alternately there are some Bhaktas who are true in their attachment to Krishna but on account of sentimentalism they neglect the cause of other devotees or near and dear ones who are also minute representations of Krishna Himself.One must realize that this is aberration in Bhakti and cannot reach fruition especially in Krishna Seva Prapti because it violates the basic decorum of Krishna Consciousness.
A person who is a true Bhakta , even if one has not read a single line of Shastra displays characteristics of the highest kind. A Bhakta is humble but stern and firm. He does not bend unnecessarily and show a bent for the rich and famous. He is equanimous in all circumstances. He is never partial. He never seeks fame in the name of trying to preach about Bhakti. He is emotionally most stable. Internally he is established in Krishna and always offering service to Sri Sri Radha and Krishna. Bhaktas never display open outburst of emotion. However an elevated devotee may at certain times be blessed by the Lord Himself with Ashta-sattvika Bhavas, the eight types of bodily manifestations of horripilation, tears, laughter, forgetfulness etc. However these signs are never displayed by the devotee in the association of ordinary individuals. The Lord gives these signals to the true Bhakta as a signature of His committed presence in the Bhakta’s life either in solitude or in the presence of other highly elevated devotees only. When such symptoms are displayed too often in front of huge crowds it should be clearly understood that the person displaying such characteristics is definitely not trustworthy. A true Bhakta is a “Sthitha Pragya” , an extremely stable personality who loves everyone unconditionally and serves society in the mood of serving Krishna without being attached to one’s own inner mood and neglecting society.