What is Bhakti Yoga and how to achieve?

Bhakti is a sort of cultivation. As soon as we say "cultivation," we must refer to activity. Cultivation of spirituality does not mean sitting down idly for meditation, as some pseudo-yogis teach. Such idle meditation may be good for those who have no information of devotional service, and for this reason it is sometimes recommended as a way to check distracting materialistic activities. Meditation means stopping all nonsensical activities, at least for the time being. Devotional service, however, not only puts an end to all nonsensical mundane activities, but also engages one in meaningful devotional activities.

Sri Prahlada Maharaja recommends:

shravanam kirtanam vishnoh
smaranam pada-sevanam
arcanam vandanam dasyam
sakhyam atma-nivedanam

The nine processes of devotional service are as follows:

  1. hearing the name and glories of the Supreme Personality of Godhead
  2. chanting His glories
  3. remembering the Lord
  4. serving the Lord's feet
  5. worshiping the Deity
  6. offering obeisances unto the Lord
  7. acting as the Lord's servant
  8. making friends with the Lord
  9. surrendering oneself fully to the Lord

Sravanam (hearing) is the first step in acquiring transcendental knowledge. One should not give aural reception to unauthorized persons, but should approach the proper person, as recommended in Gita:

tad viddhi praṇipātena
paripraśnena sevayā
upadekṣyanti te jñānaṁ
jñāninas tattva-darśinaḥ