Sadhaka : Which are the different Paths of Yoga? Why are there so many Paths?
Gurudev : The goal of human life is Self-realisation. Action, emotion and intelligence are the three horses that are linked to this body-chariot. They should work in perfect harmony or unison. Then only the chariot will run smoothly. There must be integral development. Yoga must educate and develop the whole man - his heart, intelligence and hand. Then only he will have integral development.
In the mind there are three defects, viz., mala or impurity, vikshepa or tossing, and avarana or veil. The impurities of the mind should be removed by the practice of Karma Yoga, by selfless service. The tossing of the mind should be removed by upasana (worship), japa and devotion. The veil should be torn down by the practice of Jnana Yoga, that is, by study of vedantic literature, enquiry, self-analysis, service to the Guru, and deep meditation. Only then Self-realization is possible.
To behold the one Self in all is Jnana Yoga. To love the Self in all is Bhakti Yoga. To serve the Self in all is Karma Yoga. Karma Yoga is suitable for a man of active temperament, Bhakti Yoga for a man of devotional temperament, Raja Yoga for a man of mystical temperament, and Jnana Yoga for a man of rational and philosophical temperament.
Take the help of Karma, Bhakti, Yoga and Vedanta to achieve the summum bonum of life. Yoga of synthesis is best suited for this age. All round perfection should be your aim.
Everyone should have one Yoga as a basic Yoga. He should combine (with it) Nishkama Karma Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Raja Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, etc. A little practice of Hatha Yoga (asanas and pranayamas) will give you good health. Raja Yoga will steady your mind. Sankirtan will relax your mind and inspire you. Upasana and Karma Yoga will purify heart, and prepare you for the practice of Vedanta.
Swamiji : Anything that frees you from sorrow and gives you real bliss is Yoga. So there are various practices, but essentially Yoga is one. In order to suit the different temperaments and aptitudes, different capacities and tendencies, the ancients have prescribed different Paths. These Paths are not antagonistic to one another. All these Paths ultimately work out a self-same process.
There is a fourfold expression of the mind:
(a) As emotion or love;
(b) As activity or dynamism;
(c) As rationality or the power of reasoning;
(d) As reflection or contemplativeness.
All the four aspects have to be disciplined and trained to go inward, so that your resources are completely channelled and directed towards God.
Yoga tries to achieve that Experience through various paths:
1. Through Bhakti Yoga, that is, through the emotional path of your being - your bhava, sentiment, emotion, prayer, faith, devotion and worship.
2. Through the Karma Yoga by dedicating all your daily activities to God.
3. Through the Raja Yoga or Dhyana Yoga by the withdrawal of the mind, making it turned inward, controlling and overcoming its restlessness, and making it still, concentrating it and meditating to pierce the veil of ignorance and attaining Illumination.
4. Through the intellectual part of your being in Jnana Marga or Vichara Marga - through vichara (enquiry), viveka (discrimination), reflection, analysis and investigation.
All these four Paths can be combined into a single spiritual process, because the ultimate objective of all of them is the same. Make use of all the faculties of your human personality and direct them towards the attainment of Brahma-jnana (Knowledge of the Reallity).They (all the Paths) have to mutually help each other so that each function is regulated and each function is in its proper context when it is needed. Balance should be there between the intellect and emotion, rationality and sentiment.