(Kadamba Kanana Swami, 07 January 2018, Brisbane, Australia, Q&A Programme)
In this age, which path of yoga (karma, jnana or bhakti) should we follow?
Karma yoga basically means that we engage the work of our desires in the service of the Lord. So here, we perform our prescribed duty as we desire through our karma, but offer the fruits of that work to the Lord. The motivation here is however mixed, as some is for the Lord and some is for ourselves. For instance, if someone loves to cook, they cook prasadam for the Lord, but then they leave the cleaning aspect after the cooking for someone else because they do not want to do that. This shows that the person’s devotion is not pure and has some mixed intentions.
Jnana yoga involves looking at the world in a philosophical way where one is to recognise that all things in this world are temporary, except for the eternal soul. Here, we always remember, through all the ups and downs of life, that we are eternal, and this also greatly assists in coping through life. Here, we are also trying to connect this detachment to the Lord as when we are detached, we are more free. When we are attached however, we are more entangled and think of a thousand things… anxiety permeates the mind constantly! So in jnana yoga, we are trying to cut such strings of attachment and focus on the fact that the Lord and all of us are eternal.
Bhakti yoga encompasses the recognition that whatever activity we do and whatever austerity we perform, we dedicate all of that to the Supreme Lord. Here, we understand that Krsna is the proprietor and we are his servants. There is no selfish element about pursuing our own desires or staying away from attachment altogether; it is all about service to the Lord. We worship Krsna not to get rich or to promote our own interests. No, we worship him because he is wonderful! Krsna says it himself (Bhagavad-gita 6.47):
yoginam api sarvesam
sraddhavan bhajate yo mam
sa me yuktatamo matah
The yogi that truly dedicates himself or herself to Krsna, he is the top-most. The path of bhakti yoga is repeatedly emphasised in all scriptures as the path to attract Krsna. So this is what we must strive for. Karma yoga and jnana yoga are both preliminary paths that will ultimately lead us to pure devotion. Such pure devotion is free from all karma or jnana – it is just pure selfless love for Krsna! Bhakti yoga therefore is the means and the goal!