Introducing the 4 Yogas of Hinduism Series

A sadhu performing namaste (W:Anjali mudra) in...

A sadhu performing namaste (W:Anjali mudra) in Madurai, India. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hinduism teaches there is a basic pattern to human development. The cosmology teaches people are reincarnated, and (often) that a person is born into their place in the social hierarchy depending on how far along they are. I’m not getting into that part.

There are 4 Yogas, four basic modalities of human spiritual development. They are independent of one another, and appropriate to different kinds of people, according to their characters.

Before the adoption of a yoga, there is the process by which a normal person develops into a spiritual seeker.

As one becomes a spiritual seeker, there is a preliminary clearing-out step in which one adopts the 5 Abstentions and the 5 Observances.

The spiritual seeker will then be drawn to one of the 4 Yogas:

The Way of Knowledge (Jnana Yoga) – note:  links go hot as articles are posted.
The Way of Love (Bhakti Yoga)
The Way of Work (Karma Yoga)
The Way of Meditation (Raja Yoga)

These are basic types, not rigid categories. They are forms by which the human psyche may attain the Divine — either Being with the Divine, or Becoming One with the Divine. Seekers usually have a preference.

Usually people want to be with the divine: “I want to taste sugar. I don’t want to be sugar.” Often people believe that, over a very long period of time, being with the divine naturally leads to becoming one with the divine.

Hinduism is a comparatively open, permissive form. It is not exclusive (except when it is). So, for example, Hindus might easily consider Christianity a form of Bhakti Yoga — to attain to being with the divine by cultivating the love of Christ.

For more information on the four yogas of Hinduism, I recommend The Religions of Man, by Huston Smith (1958), to which this series is indebted.

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8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Normal People Are On The Path, Too (part of the 4 Yogas of Hinduism series!) « TiltedCandle
  2. Trackback: The 5 Abstentions and the 5 Observances (part of the 4 Yogas of Hinduism series!) « TiltedCandle
  3. Trackback: Jnana Yoga — The Way of Knowledge (part of the 4 Yogas of Hinduism series!) « TiltedCandle
  4. Trackback: Bhakti Yoga — The Way of Love (part of the 4 Yogas of Hinduism series!) « TiltedCandle
  5. Trackback: Karma Yoga — The Way of Work (part of the 4 Yogas of Hinduism series!) « TiltedCandle
  6. Trackback: Raja Yoga — The Way of Meditation (part of the 4 Yogas of Hinduism series!) « TiltedCandle
  7. Trackback: End of the 4 Yogas of Hinduism series « TiltedCandle
  8. Trackback: Overview « TiltedCandle

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