A Happy Blend

Swami Satyananda Saraswati

There are various yoga systems – karma yoga, bhakti yoga, raja yoga, jnana yoga. Apart from these four yogas, there is laya yoga, mantra yoga and a very important form of yoga called kriya yoga. We should not wonder why there are so many paths. Why not only one, either hatha yoga or raja yoga? If you make a careful study of these yogas you will find that each and every path of yoga is intended to affect a reorientation or perfection in some part of your being.

For example, karma yoga helps you to unburden the load of karma which you carry all the time in your mind, so that with a lighter mind you can have inner experiences. Bhakti yoga helps you adjust the surplus emotions which most of you have and on account of which you do not enjoy life but you suffer all throughout. When the emotions are properly balanced, properly adjusted or fixed, then you have practically no emotional problems. If you have only a wife or husband, if a child is not born, your parents are dead, there is no brother or sister, you have surplus emotions.

As a result of those surplus emotions you suffer, but you do not know what the suffering is due to. In the same way, the relationship with God, the relationship with your own inner self and the relationship with your guru are important in order to adjust these surplus emotions. That is the path of bhakti yoga. When the emotions are adjusted properly, there is automatic concentration of mind and dissipation comes to an end. Raja yoga teaches you how to control the mind, how to control the mental force and bring that to one central point.

Like this, there are various forms of yoga which train the different parts of our existence, but at the same time, these yoga paths should be practised together, because we are human beings, a blending and combination of body, emotion, psyche and intellect – head, heart and hands, let us say. If we follow a lopsided path, let us say practising only jnana yoga or only hatha yoga or bhakti yoga and no other yoga, professing that this yoga is supreme, and this is the highest yoga, then we make a great mistake insofar as evolution is concerned. We may become an authority on that particular system of yoga, but as far as evolution or progress of our inner self is concerned, it will be lopsided.

In order to avoid lopsided development, it is very necessary to make a synthesis, a blending, a happy combination of practices. We are dynamic by nature, rajasic. We are also emotional, psychic and rational. Some people are predominantly rational, others are predominantly psychic, emotional or dynamic. According to the prominence of our qualities, one type of yoga should be our main yoga. I am a raja yogi, or I practise bhakti yoga or I practise karma yoga. It means that side by side with this yoga, which is relevant to my temperament, I am practising other forms of yoga also.

—15 February 1983, Harlow, England