I’ve recently been pondering over the fact of the different spiritual paths in the yogic system, namely: Jnana yoga (knowledge/meditation), Bhakti yoga (devotion), Karma yoga (right action) and Kriya yoga (control of breath/life energy/prana). These paths correspond to the 4 aspects of a human being (in same order as above): mind, emotion, body and life energy.
It is said that every individual is naturally more inclined to pursue one of these 4 paths (he may not be aware of this yogic classification and yet following one of these paths in his own way, driven by his temperament). They also say that ultimately all these 4 yogas must unite in a person if he is to attain the Ultimate.
Now my annoyingly analytical mind could not help but poke at this statement to try and figure out how it could be true. So here goes.
Let’s start with Bhakti yoga, the path of devotion. People on this path work with their emotion. Those who walk this path with perfection, only know how to work with their emotion and they surrender completely to the Divine (see also my post of ‘The Yoga of Poets’). Do you think that devotees like this, like Rumi or Mirabai, care about the fruits of their action? How can they, they see God in everything. So they are also Karma yogis. Do they revel in sense enjoyments, looking forward to a Friday night party or even to a good evening meal? No, they see the base-ness of the material world that can’t match up to their experience of the Divine. They are Jnana yogis too. In fact they often even forget to eat and may fast for days immersed in the love of the Divine. With their tapasya and intensity they unknowingly raise their life energies to a whole other pitch. They have accomplished Kriya yoga.
I think this is how it must work anyhow and I think that the example could be replicated for each of the other yogas too. It comes down to, I think, devotion and intensity about something and the ability to perfect our attention on the object of our devotion. For those of us not capable of living one of the 4 yogas to the extreme, a balanced involvement in the 4 is often sought. These are just my thoughts so take them for what they are and feel free to share your views.If you like what you read on LWP and would like to make a contribution, then read more & donate.ॐ
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