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Four Paths to Divinity: Karma, Jnana, Bhakti and Raja Yoga

For spiritual seekers, there are four paths that are prescribed in Hinduism. These are Karma Yoga,  Bhakti Yoga, Jnana Yoga and Raja Yoga.

In the picture above, my son and I are sitting by the Ganga. Mother and son are offering prayers with a lot of love. We are also talking about the importance of basking in the divine energy flowing all around us.

Why have paths to God? Isn't prayer good enough?
'Independence or 'Swatantrya' is the soul of Vedantic teachings'

You may wonder "Why can't I simply pray to God and attain God?" You can reach Mumbai from anyplace but you have to plan your trip according to your unique travel needs and based on the circumstances and the place you are currently at. More importantly, simply wanting to reach Mumbai or booking your tickets isn't enough. To reach the destination, you have to act. 

Your first step would be to travel to the railway station/airport. Depending on where you are located right now, the duration of your trip will be determined. So, by merely sitting and thinking about reaching Mumbai, you will not reach anywhere. It is not different in the world of spirituality. 

Spiritual seekers will be navigating through different phases.Their goals are very different in the sense that no two spiritual seekers will share the same goals because no two people share the same experience at the same point of time.

Spiritual Goals: How to set them 

Goals can be broad goals and sub-goals that lead to several more. Each spiritual aspirant requires different techniques in the path of sadhana. Why? Each of the prescribed paths can take you to your destination. But lets not forget that every individual has different vasanas (tendencies), experiences, goals, areas of improvement and so on that make it difficult to tread any path effortlessly. 

On the path of spirituality, there are no such easy 'lifts' but you have 4 options to choose from. To identify the path one wants to tread, you need to have:

1. A clear vision of our spiritual goals.
2. Identify our vasanas that we aim to control while on the path of spirituality.
3. Be aware of the pitfalls in our own responses to given situations and limitations.
4. Learn to see through the traps created by the mind.
5. Master the mind and be a master mind.

If you have any questions for me, I'd love to hear that too. So, don't forget to ask. 


Anonymous said…
Very interesting and thanks for your post ma'am... Came to know deeply about spiritual activities...
Vishnu said…
Insightful post Swapna. I've personally found that worship and karma yoga to be the most effective ways to experience God in my life.

I think what I could do more of see God's presence in everyday life, and not just in worship. God is love and love is everywhere so God is everywhere but going through the day, it sometimes gets difficult to recognize that! Especially with unGodly situations and people. haha

Finally, Ido have to say that I've been reading Tolle of late who is helping me consider, reconsider and shift my perspective on God. In the Power of Now, he has a line which says, "You find God by realizing you don't need to seek God". it's a powerful line in the book where he reminds us that we're there by simply being there. I'm not quite sure if this realization is possible in an instant or would require a lifetime of practice to be with God at all times.

Anyway, looking forward to your posts on this subject and the 4 different methods of divinity.
@Vishnu, It's always a pleasure to read through your insightful comments. I agree with what you have said about seeing more of God's presence in daily life and not just in worship. I can connect to that. However, a majority of people I come across and mingle with are averse to any form of worship or even acknowledging God's presence in their life. Yet many of them are totally into meditation that does not require them to concentrate on a form or name of God. Some of them have also found clear solutions to their problems and been able to heal others through the power of meditation though they may not realize they are actually practicing the tenets of Raja Yoga.

The principle underlying "You find God by realizing you don't need to seek God" is the essence of Advaita, as propagated by Sri Shankaracharya. But the paradox is that even he had explored all the 4 forms of Yoga before becoming becoming the Father of Advaita. So, the four paths of Yoga that he mastered, paved the way for a new concept of God-realization - the realization that God is not a separate entity that one has to seek. Really liked the point you have stated here.

Will write more on these topics and look forward to your insightful perspective on this.
Glad to hear from you @Anonymous and thanks for being interested in spiritual posts. These days, I feel that very few people are keen to read posts like these.
Ajith said…
just stumbled on this blog today.. there a part 2 for this blog?
@Ajith: Glad you liked it Ajith - there is no part 2 yet.

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