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Jnana Yoga is the process of converting intellectual knowledge into practical wisdom. Jnana literally means ‘Knowledge’, but in the context of yoga it means the process of improving awareness which leads to illuminative wisdom. This path invoves study of true knowledge through ancient scriptures and self reflection. It is not a method by which we try to find rational answers to eternal questions, rather it is a part of study leading to self-enquiry and self-realization.
Raja Yoga is often called the “Royal Road”, it offers a comprehensive method for controlling the waves of thought by turning our mental and physical energy into spiritual energy. The chief practice of Raja Yoga is Hatha Yoga and Meditation. It also includes all other methods like Kundalini Yoga, Nada Yoga, Laya YOga etc which help one to control body, energy, senses and mind. In Raja Yoga , Yamas (restraint), Niyamas (disciplines), Asanas (postures) and Pranayamas(pranic breathing techniques)Dhyana (meditation) and Samadhi (absorption in the universal identity) etc are practiced to gain control of the physical body and the subtle life force called Prana. When body and energy are under control meditation comes naturally.
Bhakti is a Yoga of devotion and complete faith. Through prayer, worship and ritual one surrenders himself to God or his object of faith, channeling and transmuting his emotions into unconditional love and devotion. Continuous meditation on God or object of faith gradually decreases the ego of the practitioner. Suppressed emotions get released and the purification of the inner self takes place. Slowly the practitioner looses the self identity and becomes one with God or the object of faith, this is the state of self-realization.
Karma Yoga is a path of selfless service. The aim is to surrender the ego and realise the true self by accepting universal unity. When non-attachment with the result of the action is attained the action becomes worship to God, it becomes spiritual. The practitioner achieves stability of mind in all conditions; he can disassociate himself from the ego.
The essence of Karma Yoga as extracted from ‘Bhagvad Gita‘ which says ‘The world confined in its own activity except when actions are performed as worship of God. Thereofore one must perform every action sacramentally and free from attachement to its results’
Though it is possible to acheive self realization by following any of these paths of Yoga, it is recommended bto follow all the four paths.
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