Bhakti means 'to praise with love', 'to worship someone.' Two entities are required – the one who is eulogised, and the other who eulogises. Here the two entities are the Supreme and the devotee.
Ananda Sutram defines bhakti as ideation on the Supreme -- neither eulogy nor ritualistic worship. Stuti means to praise the one in front of you. This is nothing but flattery. The word ‘archana’ means to worship a deity with flowers, vilva leaves, ganga water and other such offerings. Ritual is done in the midst of time, space and person. So in external rituals, the spatial and personal difference between the Supreme and the devotee is not obliterated. But with cosmic ideation, people advance towards Parama Purusha, bit by bit. The more the sadhaka comes close to Him, the greater will be the degree of devotion. At that time the devotee will realise Parama Purusha as his own, as the soul of souls and will surrender his unit existence in the macrocosmic flow. Without total surrender, macrocosmic grace is not attained, without which nothing is attained. There is no other way.
Another definition of bhakti is attraction. Anuraga means attraction for something. The attraction is of two types: attraction for aparabrahma or finite objects and attraction for Parama Brahmn or the infinite entity. Attraction is the law of nature, repulsion is negative attraction.
In creation, one object attracts another. The sun as the nucleus of the solar universe attracts the different planets and satellites. Similarly, planet earth is attracting various objects on the surface of the earth. Just as honeybees rush towards beehives, greedy for honey, the people of country-sides flock to towns and cities in search for food, clothes and accommodation. It is noticed that people rush towards those objects or shelters which are lasting and dependable, which can guarantee greater safety and security. The same psychology prevails behind the human desire to possess properties, name and fame, sons and daughters. But although these finite objects and entities provide apparent happiness to people, they ultimately bring sorrow and pain.
No finite object can ensure permanent happiness or eternal peace to human beings. Only the infinite, imperishable, deathless Brahmn can be the Supreme object of ideation. Only those with all the warmth of their hearts move steadily towards the god of their hearts.
In philosophical language, this love for the finite is called asakti. The transactional relationship of human beings based on asakti is business and attraction or love for Parama Purusha is called devotion. The relationship between the Supreme and the devotee is the relationship of service. Devotees want to serve the Supreme out of pure love, to please Him, and wish for nothing in return.
On a deeper analysis, it is found that human beings have nothing to call their own. They may boast about their intellect, intelligence, power and influence but the real owner of these is Parama Purusha. By His grace alone can one utilise or enjoy objects. If Parama Purusha so desires, He can snatch away all these possessions from humans, And humans will be unable to do anything about it. After realising the Supreme truth, intelligent people should endeavour to realise Parama Purusha with the power He has given them.