In this seminar we looked at the different approaches (Yogas/Margas, meaning union or connection) through which Hindu Devotee’s unite with Brahman. There are four proposed pathways to God and they can be used individually, or should someone choose, they can use a combination of yogas/margas.
The four yogas we examined are: bhakti yoga; raja yoga; karma yoga; jnana yoga. Each yoga has a different focus, so will suit different people. For me, this makes the yogas even more inviting as you can choose which is best for you, knowing that whatever you choose to do, you can form a connection with Brahman.
Bhakti yoga: the term ‘bhakti’ means intense love for God, meaning that bhakti yoga is the path of love. This pathway is more suited to those people who are naturally drawn to God. This type of devotee will spend their time praying and worshipping in remembrance of their deity. Bhakti yoga includes doing things like reading the Hindu scriptures, singing devotional songs and developing a loving relationship with the deity of the devotee’s choice.
Raja yoga: this path is the path to God through meditation. It could be said to be the hardest yoga as it requires the devotee to allow their mind to be absolutely still in order to experience God. Rishis, the founders of Hinduism, were able to see God through meditation.
Karma yoga: this is the path of action. This yoga is based on Krishna’s teaching in the Bhagavad Gita that action is better than inaction. It is this idea that forms the basis of karma yoga. The main instructions of karma yoga are: to never stop working, but ensure the work is selfless; work for the benefit of others; lead a God-centred life by offering the results of our actions to God. Karma yoga teaches that as God lives i everyone, whenever we do good to others, we become closer to God.
Jnana yoga: this is the path to God through reason and intellect. Devotees of jnana yoga believe that we require a far greater understanding of the world in order to ‘really’ see what is out there, and what we are all about, and for this reason we should partake in the practice of jnana yoga. The tools for this type of yoga are dispassion and discrimination. Dispassion towards the world in order to become less distracted, and Discrimination – to focus our minds on what is real and what is unreal.
This seminar was a really interesting session, and showed me the actual meaning of yoga. Before this session, I didn’t realise that there were different types of yoga to suit different needs – I just assumed that there was one type of yoga, and that it was just used in the therapeutic sense to help people relax at home.