Karma Yoga, Gnana Yoga and Bhakti Yoga – Which is the best one to follow?
A devotee (Name hidden) asked like this:
“my ques wz.. Whch is d best yog.. Karma, gyan or bhakti? N y? N vil b sharing ur posts n msg u wid its dates.. N vil b waiting fr d ans tu d above on ur post!”
This is a very useful question for all those who really like to come up in their devotional life. So, let me reply this having a disciple of Srila Prabhupada as support for my reply.
Actually, if you read Bhagavad Gita, you can note that Krishna has praised all the yogas in their related places. He praises Karma Yoga in Chapter-3 and in some other places. But, He finishes Bhagavad Gita categorically stating that we should give up all the dharma and surrender to Him that is Bhakti Yoga.
Which one to take?
Actually, It is the practice that we should take the final verdict. You learnt about CURRENT ELECTRICITY in your 5th standard school studies. The same topic comes even in Master’s Degree, but with elaborate details. Only the contents taught in the Master’s Degree will be final.
So, Bhakti Yoga is the ultimate Yoga one should aim for. Bhakti yoga is otherwise called Devotional Service. That is serving the Lord with devotion.
Does this mean, we should not follow Karma Yoga? Is it also said by Krishna?
When you work for Krishna, all other yogas will come to you automatically.
So, Bhakti yoga is the best.
Let me give you some points about this topic from the lectures of H.H.BHANU SWAMI MAHARAJ of ISKCON, Chennai given on 5.3.2011, 15.4.2011, 14.11.2011 and 21.5.2011:
(1) Bakthi yoga is the prime practice. Other methods are secondary.
(2) Bhagawan gets more satisfied with Bhakti Yoga. Bhagawan also says that other yogas are not as satisfying to Him as Bakthi Yoga.
(3). Bhakti attracts Bhagawan Himself; Other yogas can not ATTRACT Bhagawan.
(4) Bhakti is INDEPENDENT of anything. Whereas other practices depend on various factors.
(5) Srimad Bhagavatham recommends PURE BHAKTI as the EASY and FAST method for this kaliyuga. It does not recommend other practices as they give results slowly and stage by stage.
(6) Only Bhakti yoga (i) satisfies (ii) is best for sense control (iii) is best in satisfying Krishna.
(7) In Bhakti yoga, a devotee can involve his mind, body and senses in Bhagawan’s devotional service. Whereas in Karma Yoga, one uses his mind, body and senses for his own pleasure. In Gnana yoga, one practices detachment. But, these two do not satisfy Bhagawan.
(8) The final verdict of Bhagavatham is: A Bhakti Yogi can elevate even a chandala beyond even varnashrama dharma and even bypassing karma and gnana yogas. But, to practice karma, gnana and ashtanga yoga, a person needs some qualifications.
(9) In kaliyuga, bakthi seva to Krishna is easy for all because the people are more involved in material activities and they can easily divert that material attachment towards Krishna as Krishna is ALL ATTRACTIVE. But, other practices are not practically easy in this kaliyuga.
(10) Sri Caitanya Maha Prabhu rejected Varnashrama dharma and proved that only Bhakti yoga is the extract of all sastras.
(11) Bhakti is very transcendental and personal relationship with the Lord. Even a sudra, a woman, a sanyasi or a grahastha can develop attraction with Krishna and become a great devotee. Other practices do not offer the facilities to associate with Krishna.
(12) Only Bhakti Yoga is the strong practice that can relieve the living beings in this kaliyuga. Whereas karma and gnana yogas are just the practices that will take us to Bhakti. In this kaliyuga that is full of hurdles, these long practices are difficult to follow.
(13) All the actions and practices in BHAKTI YOGA are spiritual. Whereas the actions and practices in karma yoga is material.
H.H.Bhanu Swami Maharaj finally says beautifully:
(1) The problems in following Gnana Yoga in this kaliyuga is that we need the saadhu sangha if we like to divert from gnana yoga to bakthi yoga. And, Gnana yoga practitioners should remain in satva guna. But, in kaliyuga the people finds it difficult to remain established in satva guna as they have been contaminated with other gunas.
(2) The difficulty in following KARMA YOGA in this kaliyuga is that one should perform actions SELFLESSLY WITHOUT ANY DESIRES and DEDICATING THOSE ACTIONS TO BHAGAWAN. But, in this kaliyuga, the people naturally perform actions to satisfy their senses.
(3) The difficulty in following ASHTANGA (DHYANA) YOGA in this kaliyuga is that they find it difficult to get vairagya and sense control as they are easily pulled by maya towards material thoughts.
(4) The difficulty in following VARNASHRAMA DHARMA in this kaliyuga is that they need a government that follows varnashrama dharma strictly. (That is not existing).
(5) Whereas Bhakti Yoga can be followed successfully as it satisfies Bhagawan, easy to follow and can be easily implemented.
So, as said by H.H.Bhanu Swami Maharaj here in detail, Only Bhakti Yoga is THE BEST PRACTICE FOR KALIYUGA.