The Old Guard

Swamiji’s Example

Bhava Samadhi

Explanations of Bhava

Bhava: Disbelief or Insignificance

Misuse of Bhava

Questioning & Judging Bhava

Bhava Is Strange & Disturbing

Categorizing Bhava

Discouraging Bhava

Bhava Links

The book Swamiji recommended

Perspectives on the Mission Today

About this Writer’s Corner

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Bhava Samadhi, Divine Play, Spiritual Ecstasy

Bhava samadhi -- spiritual trance, the path of devotion (bhakti) -- is part of all spiritual traditions.  It is the presence of higher astral bodies: saints, angels, yogis and gods.  What is unique about Shivabalayogi is how generously he evoked the experience.  This program is edited from film and video taken from 1963 to 1987 in Adivarapupeta, Bangalore, Madras, Anantapur, Sambhar Lake, Dehradun, and Farrukhabad in India.

Bhava, bhava samadhi, and spiritual trance refer to a wide range of moods, ecstasy, and loss of ordinary consciousness, even loss of control of one’s own body, that are typically associated with the spiritual path of devotion, bhakti.  Swamiji’s own explanation, when he gave one, was that bhava is through the presence of higher spirits.

In booklets and biographies of Shivabalayogi written and published since 1961, bhava is always listed as one of the main ways in which Swamiji blesses devotees.

In 1991, Bojan Gorenc, a devotee from Slovenia, interviewed Swamiji in the meditation hall at the Bangalore ashram.  He asked Swamiji, “What is your teaching?”  Swamiji simply replied, “Dhyana.  Vibhuti.  Bhajans.  Bhava samadhi.”  Swamiji taught through experience, and the experience he often gave was bhava.

Explanations of Bhava

According to conventional explanations, bhava is either something a beginner on the spiritual path should move beyond,
or a profound experience attained only by the advanced.  Trouble is, Shivabalayogi gave the experience generously and unconventionally.

Bhava: Disbelief or Insignificance

According to some, bhava is either an act or an insignificant part of Shivabalayogi’s work.  Yet he consistently emphasized its authenticity and its value.

Misuse of Bhava

One must be concerned that bhava can develop ego and become an obstacle to spiritual growth.  All spiritual practices and experiences, even meditation, come with these warnings.

Questioning & Judging Bhava

Swamiji acknowledged that some people acted as if they were in bhava, but he forbade devotees from questioning or trying to judge bhava samadhi.

The Strange Appearance of Bhava

For some, bhava appears strange and creates disturbances, and Swamiji asked that trance devotees be stopped from disturbing others.  But to others, including Shivabalayogi, bhava is an expression of play in addition to a profound spiritual awakening.

Categorizing Bhava

One cannot explain the inexplicable.  Bhava has to do with the spirit and the mind cannot comprehend the spirit.  Those who experience bhava say it is different each time.

Discouraging Bhava

Swamiji himself referred to a history of discouraging and suppressing spiritual trance.  Several times he gave the example of Jesus giving bhava and how that was suppressed after Jesus was killed.

Bhava Samadhi Links

Links to pages that contain Shivabalayogi's own explanations of bhava samadhi, articles on bhava samadhi, and many videos showing how generously Shivabalayogi evoked the spiritual experience.

Read about different experiences of bhava samadhi and what Swamiji had to say on the subject in any of the books on Shivabalayogi, in the Bhava Samadhi pages of the Shiva website, and in the Bhava Samadhi pages of the Shivabalayogi website.

Bhava during bhajans at the Bannerghatta ashram


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