Swami Vivekananda’s four Yogas


  • January 12 this year marks the 161st birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda, observed as National Youth Day.

Vedantic Humanism

  • “The Vedanta philosophy, as it is generally called at the present day, really comprises all the various sects that now exist in India. Thus there have been various interpretations, and to my mind they have been progressive, beginning with the dualistic or Dvaita and ending with the non-dualistic or Advaita. The word Vedanta literally means the end of the Vedas — the Vedas being the scriptures of the Hindus… All the Vedantists agree on three points. They believe in God, in the Vedas as revealed, and in cycles.”
  • Swami Vivekananda believed that there is only one Self in the universe. There is only one Existence. He saw the entire universe as a manifestation of the absolute One.

    Swami Vivekananda’s four Yogas
    Photo Source; Wikipedia
  • On the coexistence of various faiths, he believed religious acceptance, and not tolerance was important. He claimed that tolerance comes out of a superiority complex.
  • For Vivekananda, the most desirable path for self-realisation was the selfless service of man. Some ways through which the essential unity of all human beings can be realised are unconditional love for all, judicious detachment, and expansion of self through service of fellow humans despite any sectarian difference, he believed.
  • He was an exponent of vedantic humanism. He did not propagate a world-negating concept of spirituality, rather he said that each and every chore of your life should be done with divinity. He articulated that external rituals of religion are of secondary importance but the spiritual essence of a religion should be preserved and accepted.
  • Talking about Vivekananda’s understanding of religion, Deepak Ji Purohit, a monk associated with the Ramakrishna Mission, said, “Religion is a topic of experience, peace can only last if people understand the real meaning of religion, practise it in their daily lives and feel one with it.”

Divinity within ourselves

  • “Infinite power is in the soul of man, whether he knows it or not. Its manifestation is only a question of being conscious of it. With the full consciousness of his infinite power and wisdom, the giant will rise to his feet.”
  • Swami Vivekananda asserted that each soul is potentially divine. The goal of human beings should be to manifest this divinity within, which can be done by controlling nature, external and internal.

Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Raja Yoga and Jnana Yoga:

  • Swami Vivekananda talked about the four pathways of attaining moksha from worldly pleasure and attachment in his books, we look at them.

Karma Yoga

  • Swami Vivekananda, emphasising the importance of work, said that God can be attained through work. He said that in every society there are people whose minds cannot be concentrated on the plane of thought alone. He stressed that a lot of people fritter away a great amount of their energies because they are oblivious to the secret of work. The key to this secret lies in Karma Yoga, as it teaches how to employ to the maximum advantage all our energies in our work.
  • Karma-Yoga teaches how to work for work’s sake, unattached to the results. A Karma Yogin works out of her nature as she feels it is the right thing for her to do and that is the sole objective of her work. “Whatever you do, let that be your worship for the time being,” he said.

Bhakti Yoga

  • Bhakti Yoga teaches that love is a vital element of all human beings. It teaches how to love bereft of any ulterior motives. “All love is expansion, all selfishness is contraction. Love is therefore the only law of life. He who loves lives, he who is selfish is dying,” said Swami Vivekananda.

Raja Yoga

  • Raja Yoga opens up the psychological way to union with God. This Yoga teaches that in order to acquire knowledge, we’d have to use a method called concentration.
  • Swami Vivekananda, to explain this Yoga, gives an example of a chemist who works in her laboratory, concentrating all the powers of her mind, bringing them into one focus, and throwing them onto the elements; the elements stand analysed and thus her knowledge comes.
  • “The more this power of concentration, the more knowledge is acquired. The stronger the power of concentration, the better will that thing be done.”

Jnana Yoga

  • — Jnana Yoga is the path of knowledge. Weeding out the darkness of ignorance through the light of knowledge, it can bring the ‘fire’ and ‘light’ alive by burning all the impurities of the mind. The mind does not give up its attachment to worldly pleasures unless it has tasted something greater and higher. Self-knowledge, according to jnana-yoga, is true liberation.

Faith in oneself

  • He emphasises that the ideal of faith in ourselves is of the greatest help to us as whatever “you think, that you will be. If you think yourselves weak, weak you will be; if you think yourselves strong, strong you will be.” One has to know that all knowledge, power, purity, and freedom are in oneself.
  • Swami Vivekanand also urges people to not shy away from taking responsibility for their actions. “We, as Vedantists, know for certain that there is no power in the universe to injure us unless we first injure ourselves. Let us blame none, let us blame our own karma. The effect is here and the cause is here too. We are to blame. Stand up, be bold, and take the blame on your own shoulders.”

Read some of his most inspirational quotes:

  • * “Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life; dream of it; think of it; live on that idea. Let the brain, the body, muscles, nerves, every part of your body be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success, and this is the way great spiritual giants are produced.”
  • * “Arise! Awake! And stop not until the goal is reached.”
  • * “Where can we go to find God if we cannot see Him in our own hearts and in every living being.”
  • * “All the powers in the universe are already ours. It is we who have put our hands before our eyes and cry that it is dark.”
  • * “Ask nothing; want nothing in return. Give what you have to give; it will come back to you, but do not think of that now.”

(Source: On Swami Vivekananda’s birth anniversary, a look at his teachings, message by Gargi Nandwana)

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