Spiritual disciplines are called Sádhanas. They are paths to perfection, roads to realisation of the truth. Since there are temperamental differences among the individual seekers of truth, Hinduism recognises the need for a variety of spiritual disciplines or Sádhanas. These Sádhanas can be brought under four broad categories called Yogas: the Karma Yoga, the Bhakti Yoga, the Rája Yoga and the Jnána Yoga. Karma Yoga is the path of disinterested action suited to the active type. Bhakti Yoga, the path of love of God, is most suitable to the emotional type. Rája Yoga, the path of psychic control, is meant for the introspectives. Jnána Yoga, the path of dis-crimination and knowledge is ideal for those endowed with a sharp intellect and a keen power of discrimination. However the four qualities of activity, emotion, introspection and intellect are found in everyone though in varying degrees. Hence a balanced combination of all the Yogas, with more of one and less of others depending upon one’s temperament, is desirable for quick results.
Do your work, the duties that fall to your lot, nicely and efficiently. But be alert; never get attached, either to the work or to the fruits thereof. This is the essence of Karma Yoga.
Love God with all your heart and soul. Cultivate an intimate loving relationship with Him. Surrender yourself completely to Him. Desire for Him alone and for nothing else. This is the core of Bhakti Yoga.
Rája Yoga prescribes an eight-fold discipline leading to the perfect control of the mind and culminating in the vision of the Truth. Yama and Niyama, the moral and ethical disciplines already described, are the first two steps. Ásana (steady and comfortable posture), Pránáyáma (rythmic breathing and breath-control), Pratyáhára (withdrawal of the senses from their objects), Dhárana (fixing the attention on the ideal), Dhyána (steady flow of the mind-stuff towards the ideal) and Samádhi (perfect concentration on the ideal)–these are the subsequent steps in that order.
Discriminate between the real (the Self) and the unreal (the world-appearance). Give up the unreal mercilessly. Cling to the Self, the eternal and immortal reality. Hear about It, brood over It and meditate over It. Become one with It. This is the sum and substance of Jðána Yoga