- For the "Three Yogas" in Jainism, see Asrava
Asrava is one of the tattva or the fundamental reality of the world as per the Jain philosophy. It refers to the influence of body and mind causing the soul to generate karma....
The Three Yogas
in the context of monotheistic Hinduism
are three religious paths for the human spirit to achieve union (yoga
) with Ishvara
Ishvara is a philosophical concept in Hinduism, meaning controller or the Supreme controller in a theistic school of thought or the Supreme Being, or as an Ishta-deva of monistic thought.-Etymology:...
, Supreme Being
The term Supreme Being is often defined simply as "God", and it is used with this meaning by theologians of many religious faiths, including, but not limited to, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Deism. However, the term can also refer to more complex or philosophical interpretations of the...
, i.e. God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....
. They are
- Karma Yoga or the Path of Action (karma
Karma in Indian religions is the concept of "action" or "deed", understood as that which causes the entire cycle of cause and effect originating in ancient India and treated in Hindu, Jain, Buddhist and Sikh philosophies....
- Bhakti Yoga or the Path of Devotion (bhakti
In Hinduism Bhakti is religious devotion in the form of active involvement of a devotee in worship of the divine.Within monotheistic Hinduism, it is the love felt by the worshipper towards the personal God, a concept expressed in Hindu theology as Svayam Bhagavan.Bhakti can be used of either...
- Jnana Yoga or the Path of Knowledge (jnana
Jñāna or gñāna is a Sanskrit and Pali word that means knowledge. It has various nuances of meaning depending on the context. The idea of jnana centers around a cognitive event which is recognized when experienced...
These concepts are introduced in the Bhagavad Gita
The ' , also more simply known as Gita, is a 700-verse Hindu scripture that is part of the ancient Sanskrit epic, the Mahabharata, but is frequently treated as a freestanding text, and in particular, as an Upanishad in its own right, one of the several books that constitute general Vedic tradition...
and become extremely popular in the course of the Bhakti movement
The Bhakti movement is a Hindu religious movement in which the main spiritual practice is loving devotion among the Shaivite and Vaishnava saints. The Bhakti movement originated in ancient Tamil Nadu and began to spread to the north during the late medieval ages when north India was under Islamic...
They are elaborated upon in the Vaishna Bhagavata Purana
The Bhāgavata Purāṇa is one of the "Maha" Puranic texts of Hindu literature, with its primary focus on bhakti to the incarnations of Vishnu, particularly Krishna...
The Bhagavad Gita had been made practically the only source for the means to moksha
Within Indian religions, moksha or mukti , literally "release" , is the liberation from samsara and the concomitant suffering involved in being subject to the cycle of repeated death and reincarnation or rebirth.-Origins:It is highly probable that the concept of moksha was first developed in...
with the development of Classical Hinduism in the 8th or 9th century, and Hindu philosophers of the medieval period have tried to explain the nature of these three paths and the relation between them.
Adi Shankara Adi Shankara Adi Shankara (IAST: pronounced , (Sanskrit: , ) (788 CE - 820 CE), also known as ' and ' was an Indian philosopher from Kalady of present day Kerala who consolidated the doctrine of advaita vedānta...
tended to focus on jnana-yoga
exclusively, which he interpreted as the acquisition of knowledge or vidya
thumb|[[Sarasvati]], Vidya goddess.Vidya, Vidhya is a Sanskrit name for knowledge. It is frequently used in Hinduism as honorific stemming from the Puranic conception of knowledge and learning. Vidya is an epithet of the Hindu goddess Sarasvati, consort of Brahma according to Hindu beliefs...
. He considered karma-yoga
to be inferior, and ignores bhakti-yoga
The 12th-century philosopher Ramanuja
Ramanuja ; traditionally 1017–1137, also known as Ramanujacharya, Ethirajar , Emperumannar, Lakshmana Muni, was a theologian, philosopher, and scriptural exegete...
considered the three yogas by interpreting his predecessor Yamunacharya
Yamunacharya or Alavandar was a vishistadvaita philosopher in Srirangam. Ramanuja, one of the leaders of the srivaishnava school sought to be his disciple. He was born in early 10th century CE and was the grandson of a brahmin, Nathamuni. Nathamuni was a famed yogi who collected to the works of...
In Ramanuja's interpretation, bhakti-yoga
appears to be the direct path to moksha
, which is however available only to those whose inner faculties have already been trained by both karma-yoga
A "fourth yoga" is sometimes added, Raja Yoga
Rāja Yoga is concerned principally with the cultivation of the mind using meditation to further one's acquaintance with reality and finally achieve liberation.Raja yoga was first described in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, and is part of the Samkhya tradition.In the context of Hindu...
or "the Path of Meditation". This is the classical Yoga
presented in Patanjali
Patañjali is the compiler of the Yoga Sūtras, an important collection of aphorisms on Yoga practice. According to tradition, the same Patañjali was also the author of the Mahābhāṣya, a commentary on Kātyāyana's vārttikas on Pāṇini's Aṣṭādhyāyī as well as an unspecified work of medicine .In...
's Yoga Sutras.
Patanjali's system came to be known as Raja Yoga
or "Royal Yoga" retro-actively, in about the 15th century, as the term Yoga
had become popular for the general concept of a "religious path".
The systematic presentation of Hindu monotheism as divided into these four paths or "Yogas" is modern, advocated by Swami Vivekananda
Swami Vivekananda , born Narendranath Dutta , was the chief disciple of the 19th century mystic Ramakrishna Paramahansa and the founder of the Ramakrishna Math and the Ramakrishna Mission...
from the 1890s.
They are presented as four paths to God suitable for four human temperaments, viz. the active, the emotional, the mystic and the philosophical.