Bhakti Chai Could Be as American as Apple Pie. ~ Pranada Comtois

Via Pranada Comtois
on Aug 22, 2011
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Photo: elena's pantry

Have you been sipping Bhakti Chai coffees and teas? If not, you might be—and soon.

The Colorado-based company appears to be riding the Bhakti trend.

Here’s the magic secret about trends and branding: If you have the foresight or good fortune to tap into a strong trend and establish your brand early, you’re likely to strike pay dirt. This is especially true when the name of your company is the name of the trend, as with Bhakti Chai, the “Starbucks®” drink of the Yoga community.

Bhakti Yoga, the “way of love,” is unlike any of the yogas Americans know. You don’t have to go to the gym or church or even know what yoga is; it isn’t practiced on a mat. Bhakti is a heart-centered practical lifestyle for living with integrity in our commonest dealings every day.

Photo: Jenn

My expectation that Bhakti Chai will take off is not triggered by the article at The San Francisco Chronicle online, which cites Bhakti Chai’s “474 percent revenue growth.” I don’t need a business degree to know there are 15 million people (of impressive demographics) affiliated with yoga in America who would love to get their hands on a bottled organic Indian masala coffee—decaf and Iced Blends available—without having to fly to India!

Rather my observation is based on watching the Bhakti philosophy, whose worldview is a wholesome, heart-based, easy and generally universal approach to life, explode onto America’s yoga scene four years ago.

According to Google Alerts, people love Bhakti. It’s hard not to. Bhakti, the heart yoga, teaches the practice of unconditional love in our daily lives—whatever our lives look like. Bhakti is a mindset that gives and spreads what we all desperately seek: genuine, undying, unselfish love.

The world enjoys many things Indian, from cloth to food to spirituality.

The energetic spread of Bhakti within the Yoga community is another testament to this. So imagine this: You value wisdom from the East and/or you practice yoga. You just found an untapped wellspring of spiritual wisdom, the last that India has to offer the world—there are no other philosophies lying in wait in an undiscovered treasure chest in India. This is it: Bhakti, India’s final spiritual frontier. You just might be a tad excited. And when something excites a lot of people it spreads pretty fast.

Americans have been changed forever by the century-long transmission and assimilation of three of India’s four yogas—as documented by Philip Goldberg, American Veda: From Emerson and the Beatles to Yoga and Meditation, How Indian Spirituality Changed the West. Mr. Goldberg paints a clear picture of how the East-to-West transmission accelerated through the decades, moving from the counterculture into our laboratories, libraries, and living rooms. Meditation is now recommended by physicians and therapists; karma, mantra, and yoga are part of our vocabulary; and lifestyle choices like vegetarianism continue on the rise.

Photo: Monica

Bhakti has been continually practiced for thousands of years, with its full regalia of ancient texts, sages, saints, mystics, contemplatives, pilgrimage sites, a complex worldview and its ease of application so it will appeal to many. At the core of Bhakti is the notion that the fundamental principle of existence is love: Intelligence driven by love. And here’s what India’s secret yoga says about human nature:

  1. Humans are emotional beings (emotions override intelligence, intuition, and instinct).
  2. Happiness is the empress of emotions (that’s why we all want it).
  3. Emotions are mastered by practice in real-life situations: in our relationships with friends, family, and within local and global communities.
  4. The mystery of life lies in the mastery and expression of emotions.

Using the mind is required for the enterprise of happiness and peace, thus the tremendous interest in mind control techniques, living in the Now, quantum healing, changing thoughts, meditation, and so on, but unless you get to the heart of the matter—pun intended—no amount of mental adjustments will give lasting peace or happiness. Ah! Is that why we’re not completely satisfied, even with the keenest spiritual attempts? In The HeartMath Solution, Doc Childre agrees,

“Even longtime meditators get only limited benefits unless the heart is deeply engaged, so they’re often frustrated with their progress.”

Large numbers of Americans are hungry for something else, as evidenced by the continued rise of personal development and self-help products, seminars, and books. Our essential restlessness and dissatisfaction grows, despite our access to all kinds of knowledge. Financial troubles at home and abroad—riots in London, thousands of starving children in Somalia, and increasing global and domestic tensions, not to mention relational troubles at home—threaten our happiness and for some our sanity.

Bhakti’s arrival is timely, another indicator that Bhakti will have legs in America. But the ultimate clue that Bhakti will trend lies in its own premise: if we want to be happy, peaceful, and fulfilled try unconditional love: accepting it and giving it.

What is a trend anyway, but a collective choice? Whether we’re choosing between apple pie or Bhakti Chai, I, for one, hope Bhakti’s message of compassion and unconditional love draws more and more Americans to explore India’s final frontier.


Pranada Comtois is a writer, speaker, teacher, and founder of Little Ways of Being™. She shares “the path of unconditional love” in her blog, seminars, and workshops; volunteers as the Managing Editor for Bacopa Literary Review; is raising her precious three-year-old granddaughter; grabs any free time (like when?) to write poetry; is trying to find an agent for her nonfiction book, and enjoys kirtans with friends. Pranada believes women are natural spiritual leaders, the world needs more of us owning that power, and is passionate about assisting women exercising our full spiritual potential. You can find her on Facebook or Twitter as well as her website




About Pranada Comtois

Pranada Comtois spent two decades immersed as a contemplative-ascetic in an ashram, and the next twenty years raising a family and running two multi-million dollar businesses with the intention of embodying practical spirituality in the world. She brings the wisdom of multiple traditions and lessons from her own experience into her writing and inspirational speaking.

Pranada is a spiritual activist who advocates for the Way of the Feminine Divine and the practice of unconditional love in daily life for personal and community transformation. Thousands of people have benefited by bringing heartfulness to their mindfulness.

She blogs at Little Ways of Being™ and is passionate about empowering women to find their unique gifts, voices, and strengths and usher them into the world. Find her also on Facebook and Twitter and Youtube.


39 Responses to “Bhakti Chai Could Be as American as Apple Pie. ~ Pranada Comtois”

  1. Connie says:

    Thanks for spreading the message of Bhakti.

  2. Vegavati says:

    "Intelligence driven by love"–I like that!

  3. sandra elsey says:

    Sounds like a positive alternative to Starbucks-I can't wait to try some Bhakti Chai!! Thanks for the article-enjoyed it.

  4. Thank you for this very timely article. It is becoming increasingly clear to more and more that our true happiness in life is clearly driven by our compassion, contribution to others and a heart centered existence.

  5. athayoganusasanam says:

    bhakti chai is the most delish stuff out there. it's one of the things i miss most about living in colorado! sometimes we order cases and have them sent to us in virginia – seriously – it's that good 🙂

  6. Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Just posted to "Featured Today" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

  7. Tanya Lee Markul says:


    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Yoga Editor
    Join us! Like Elephant Yoga on Facebook
    Follow on Twitter

  8. deva says:

    Lol I thought this was going to be a food article 😉 Bhakti is nice, too.

  9. Jani says:

    Unconditional love–just think how many agonizing problems bewtween people and nations this would solve. Let's try it for a day!

  10. TKD says:

    Doesn't love or Bhakti yoga start with God?

  11. Rudy says:

    India's long obsession with all things spiritual makes it an invaluable resource for addressing the tremendous problems we face today. Articles like this one help to show that the insights of Bhakti are an essential part of India's wisdom traditions.

  12. Nandini says:

    perfecto pranada!

  13. arianna howard says:

    great articule ..I cant wait to try the tea , thanks so much

  14. MICHELLE ROSE says:


  15. Deets says:

    Very thoughtful and "heartfelt," as well as timely article.

  16. Anne Cox says:

    Bhakti–the last frontier from India. Perhaps this will be the knowledge and practice to bring our world into harmony. Thank you for this insightful well written piece Pranada.
    Anne Cox

  17. manjari says:

    Awesome! Love it:)

  18. Rangavati devi says:

    I think Pranada's heart is in the right place, and I share her sentiments that this trend is on the horizon soon to shine it's golden light of peace and happiness.

  19. Kosa Ely says:

    Yoga, vegetarianism, and yes, bhakti, are all growing and spreading around the world by collective choice (I love that!). Nice article Pranada.

  20. szappini says:

    Wonderful article. Whether or not the chai rides a rising trend, I hope the practice of bhakti yoga continues to grow in this country as well as elsewhere in the world.

  21. Edith says:

    I love the four points. Truth stated succinctly. I also love the concept of "trend" as collective choice. Keep writing!

  22. Karnamrita das says:

    I think we should recommend they call the drink, Bhakti latte, which is so similar to bhakti lata, which means the creeper of plant of devotion. Nice pun on words. Lovely article, unconditionally sweet, and awake!

  23. Babhru says:

    I enjoyed reading this thoughtful, well-written article. Bhakti does seem to be trending in certain circles, and I have heard that sages opine that no endeavor in yoga can succeed without some element of bhakti. I hope to see more from Pranada here.

  24. TheBrickBlogger says:

    Nice post! Although I thought bhakti means devotion to God. I hope it won't be watered down and confused like yoga has been. Although even a watered down yoga-practice is more beneficial than, say, vegitating in front of the TV. 😉

  25. Catu Dasa says:

    Very nice article Pranada.

  26. Pranada, my heartfelt congratulations on a timely, pertinent and well-written article. So glad to see that bhakti – the yoga of loving devotional service to God, the planet and humanity, is receiving the attention it so rightly deserves. As you indicate in your article, the cultivation of unconditional love, and consciously raising our vibrational frequency to this level through the practice of bhakti, is our only real hope for overcoming the challenges of our times, indeed, all time. One heart at a time we can make this change, since many hearts united and focused together in bhakti can manifest miracles.
    From my heart to yours
    With love and gratitude
    Victoria Radha

  27. Michael says:

    Bhakti does mean "devotional loving service to GOD". Let's not leave God out of Bhakti, for a "heart-centered" lifestyle. Otherwise, as Prabhupada would say, what's the difference between humans and animals? Animals also have "heart-centered lifestyle". Haribol.

  28. Yes, David, and large numbers of people agree with you. That's the really encouraging aspect to the rise of a desire to live a heart-based life.

  29. Very cool. Thanks, Tanya. This was fun to watch.

  30. Starts and ends with God in the ultimate view. But one article can't cover the depth of Bhakti and the Path of Unconditional Love. More to come, or visit my website, too. 🙂

  31. Thanks, Michelle, For the most part we all benefit from teachers of all sorts, and a journey like reaching for full expression of unconditional love our ourselves, others and God is no different. Let's stay in touch.

  32. Good point. Unconditional love has to include ourselves, others and God and a clear understanding of what The Path of the Heart (Bhakti) looks like in our daily lives is essential for actually benefiting from this path. There's so much more to say about Unconditional Love, but we have to start somewhere and noticing Bhakti's entrance into American life seemed like a reasonable place to have a peek.

  33. Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Just posted to "Popular Lately" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

  34. Sangita says:

    Loved reading this great article! Thank you, Pranada!
    Sangita devi dasi

  35. KuDas says:

    thank you for the thoughtful article..very difficult to explain Bhakti within a short space. Love as a descriptive term in itself most always evokes a knee jerk reaction….touchy feelly or emotional religion.

    The depth of philosophy and vedic knowledge behind Bhakti warrants a serious reader's research.

  36. John Heintz says:

    Awesome information. I never really looked at the statement that we are 'emotional beings'. That, emotion overcomes everything else '(intelligence, intuition and instinct)'. I will definitely be observing this in my life. Hmmmm

  37. […] way to do this is to rock out to your favorite kirtan music! Flip on the ipod and fill the room with bhakti! I assure you – you and everyone else around you will feel much […]

  38. lincolnbriant says:

    Great article, thanks for sharing it!

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