Āropa-siddhā, saṅga-siddhā, and svarūpa-siddhā-bhakti

In a previous article, I examined Śrī Jīva Goswami’s definition of bhakti. Here I will present Śrī Jīva Goswami’s classification scheme in Anuccheda 217 of the Bhakti Sandarbha, in which he details the different sub-types of bhakti.

Āropa-siddhā, Saṅga-siddhā, and Svarūpa-siddhā-bhakti

Śrī Jīva Goswami divides bhakti into three different types. I present his definitions below starting with āropa-siddhā bhakti:


= svato bhaktitvābhāve’pi bhagavad-arpaṇādinā bhaktitvaṁ prāptā karmādi-rūpā

= the execution of prescribed action ( karma ) and similar undertakings, which although devoid of bhakti by themselves, become of the nature of bhakti by being offered to Bhagavān.

The word āropa means ‘superimposition’. Ordinary actions and actions prescribed in the Vedas are not bhakti in their essence, because they either have nothing to do with Bhagavān or are not directly related to Him. When the results of these actions are mentally offered to Bhagavān, then the actions are called āropa-siddhā bhakti.

It is important to note that āropa-siddhā bhakti are not the acts of a bhakta. They are actions of an individual who either wants bhakti, in which case they are called akaitavā-āropa-siddhā-bhakti, or āropa-siddhā bhakti done without pretense, or who wants the fruit of that activity, in which case they are called sakaitavā-āropa-siddhā-bhakti.

The actions which are called āropa-siddhā bhakti are not to be confused with the activities of an uttama bhakta-sādhaka who may do actions like working at a job or sleeping at night, which are not bhakti in their essence. First, there is no ‘offering of results’ in uttamā bhakti. Second, uttamā bhakti is performed after the offering of one’s own self to Bhagavān. As such, all activities of an uttama bhakta are uttamā bhakti, because the singular goal of an uttama bhakta-sādhaka is uttamā bhakti.

Śrī Jīva Goswami next defines saṅga-siddhā bhakti:


= svato bhaktitvābhāve’pi tat-parikaratayā saṁsthāpanena

= practices of jñāna and karma , which although devoid of bhakti by themselves, become established as component parts of bhakti by being utilized as assistants to devotion.

The word ‘saṅga’ means ‘association’. When jñāna and karma act as assistants to bhakti, then they are called saṅga-siddhā. For example, one may practice detachment and control the mind, which are methods of the path of karma yoga and jñāna yoga. They are not bhakti in their essence, because it is possible to practice them independently of bhakti. When these activities are performed, in addition to the practices of bhakti, then they take on the appellation of bhakti by ‘association’. This bhakti again is of two types: sakaitavā and akaitavā, depending on whether the goal is to obtain uttamā bhakti.

Again, these activities should not be confused with the actions of an uttama bhakta like working at a job. An uttama bhakta, by definition, has no faith in the paths of jñāna (knowledge) and karma (action) or other processes.

Next, he defines svarūpa-siddhā bhakti:


= ajñānādināpi tat-prādurbhāve bhaktitvāvyabhicāriṇī sākṣāt-tad-anugaty-ātmā tadīya-śravaṇa-kīrtanādi-rūpā

= hearing ( śravaṇa ) and singing ( kīrtana ) the glories of Bhagavān, which are of the essence of direct loving attendance ( anugati ) upon Bhagavān in their very constitution, and which, upon being taken up, are never divorced from bhakti’s essential nature even if performed without awareness.

Babaji writes:

The devotional acts that are directly related to Bhagavān, such as hearing His glories, chanting or singing His name, remembering Him, worshiping Him, cleaning His temple, and so on, are bhakti by their very nature. Because these acts are directly of the nature of sevā , or “sacred service,” which is the intrinsic characteristic of bhakti , they are thus called svarūpa-siddhā-bhakti , or “intrinsic devotion.”

Again, svarūpa-siddhā bhakti can be sakaitavā or akaitavā, depending on the motive of the person.


There are three types of bhakti:

  1. Āropa-siddhā,
  2. Saṅga-siddhā,
  3. Svarūpa-siddhā-bhakti

Each of these have two further sub-classifications of sakaitavā or akaitavā.

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