Why Yoga and various paths of Yoga
In this article we will see what is Yoga, why Yoga is needed and brief discussion on different paths of Yoga.
Yoga means union of body, mind and soul and realizing who we truly are. It is a practical science aiming at the realization of the ultimate self. In Bhagwad gita 8.15 it is mentioned, “dukhalayam asasvatam”. This place is full of miseries so one has to realize it, Srila Prabhupada founder, Iskcon says. Unless we understand that this place is miserable, there is no question how to get out of it. The major portion of the great Bhagwad gita focusses on several paths of Yoga. Why major portion of it involves talking about Yoga, because that is what needed to lead a life in a miserable place. Otherwise life will be full of sufferings.
Karma-yoga (the yoga of selfless action)
The word karma is derived from the Sanskrit kri, meaning ‘to do’. In its most basic sense karma simply means action, and yoga translates to union. Thus “karma yoga” literally translates to the path of union through action. Karma-yoga begins with the understanding that selfish action binds the soul. By giving up the fruits of action, one is relieved from the reactions to self-centred activities.
Jnana-yoga (philosophical research and wisdom)
Whereas karma-yoga usually involves bhukti, enjoying worldly pleasure, jnana-yoga promotes knowledge through seclusion, study, and sense abnegation. Activities and the necessities of life are minimised. Since the pursuit of wisdom and realisation is not simply an academic exercise, much emphasis is placed on becoming free from the sensual desires that delude the soul.
Astanga/RajaYoga (physical exercises and meditation)
Asta means “eight” and anga means “part.” Astanga-yoga is a process divided into eight distinct and essential stages, based on the Yoga Sutras of the sage, Patanjali. It is explored succinctly in the Bhagavad-gita. Many modern practices of yoga are related. However, Patanjali’s system requires the observation of standards difficult for most contemporary practitioners. The sutras discuss super states of consciousness and the obtainment of eight main types of mystic power, such as the ability to become “smaller than the smallest.” India is replete with tales of such feats, which are largely accepted as feasible. Nonetheless, Patanjali warns the yogi not to become enamoured of such mystic powers but to keep the mind fixed on leaving the material realm. The highest perfection is to focus on God within.
Bhakti-Yoga (the path of devotional service)
The popular path of bhakti is considered by many to be only a stepping-stone to what they consider the more difficult process of knowledge. Other groups consider bhakti to be higher than jnana, considering that “the heart rules the head.” Some consider all paths to be equal. Here as an act of devotion, a priest offers arti (see The Arti Ceremony) to the temple deities.
In today’s modern world, what is missing? “Compassion”. Yoga can develop compassion naturally. Once compassion develops then everything else follows. Love for others, love for nature, Love for every single thing on the earth thereby feeling the connectedness with everything. Lord Krishna says that I am present in everybody’s heart and if you realise that then you realize God in everybody.