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Which Yogi Are You; Karma, Bhakta, Jnana Or Raja Yogi?

On 21st June 2015, first day of International Day of Yoga was celebrated. Followed by that day every year on the longest day of the year that is 21st June, IDY is celebrated all over the world.

But did you know that there are different schools of yoga that follow completely different approach.

In this article we will explore:

  • Actual Meaning Of Yoga
  • Reference Of Yoga In Different Shastras
  • Practical Meaning Of Yoga
  • Different Schools Of Yoga
  • Which Type Of Yogi You Are?


It is believed that the word yoga comes from the word YUJ, which means to yoke, which means union. And it is the most accepted meaning of YOGA all over the world.


योगश्चित्तवृत्तिनिरोधः ॥

Yoga is stopping the fluctuations of MIND

Yoga Sutra

योगशास्त्रमिदम गोपियांसमाभी परिभाषितम।।

सुभतकाय प्रदातव्यम त्रिलोक्ये च महात्मने।।

This Yoga Shastra now declared by us is a doctrine, only to be revealed to a high-souled pious devotee of the three worlds.

Shiv Sutra

नास्ति मायासमाह पाशो नास्तियोगत्परम बलम।

नास्तिज्ञानातपरो बंधुरनाहंकारत परो रिपुः।।

There are no fetters like those of illusion (Maya), no strength like that of YOGA, no friend greater than knowledge (Jnana), and no greater enemy than Egoism (Ahamkar).

Gheranda Samhita

हठविद्या परम गोपिया योगिना सिद्धिमइच्छतम।

भवेद्वीरयवती गुप्ता निर्विर्या तू प्रकाशत।।

Hatha Vidya is the greatest secret of yogis who wish to attain precision (Siddhi). Indeed, to be fruitful, it must be kept secret; if revealed it becomes powerless.

Hatha Yoga Pradipika

चित्तवृत्तिनिरोधस्तु महायोगः प्रकृतिर्त।

योगस्चतुरविधः प्रोक्तो योगज्ञ सर्वसिद्धि।।

Control of the mental fluctuations is called as Maha Yoga. The adepts of yoga classify this Maha Yoga into four types, which brings all types of siddhis.



When a person is in a certain state of mind where he feels connected with the element that is beyond matter, when the body & mind is in sync with each other, when the outer world & inner world are in harmony, when all the questions of the mind are dropped, when all the dualities of the mind are dropped, when the ego is dropped, when a person is in absolute flow state and experiences the Param Tattva, he or she is said to be in YOGA state of mind. This optimum state of mind is also referred to as Prasadam in many shastra (ancient texts).

However many times the entire process and methodology to reach this state of mind is also referred to as Yoga.


You may have heard many different types of yoga. Like jnana yoga, bhakti yoga, raja yoga, kriya yoga, dhyana yoga, hatha yoga, tantra yoga, mantra yoga, ghata yoga, chaturanga yoga, saptanga yoga, Ashtanga yoga, etc.

But all these are merely connotations of yoga. Many of them are not actual schools of yoga. Many of them are processes that are practiced by different schools.

For Example, Nada Yoga is practiced in Hatha Vidya Schools as well as Tantra Yoga Schools. Mantra Yoga is practiced in almost all the different traditions. Nyasa is practiced in Tantra Yoga as well as Vedic Yagya Processes.


Jnana Yoga

Jnana means knowledge. Jnana Yoga means ‘Yoga Through Knowledge’. As the name suggests in this school the yogic state of mind is attained through gaining knowledge. This knowledge is not like the way most of us gained in school, by reading books. But this knowledge is gained through inquiry, through swadhyaya (self study & study of the self.) 

There are three major stages of this school according to Advaita Vedanta.

  1. Shravana: Listening to the knowledge from a learned master or guru.
  2. Manana: Thinking & analysing the knowledge gained.
  3. Nidhidyanasana: Meditating upon the knowledge gained.

This school basically consists of the traditions of Advaita Vedanta, Nyaya Darshan, Vaiseshika Darshan, Samkhya Darshan & even Yoga Darshan (not the yoga taught in the yoga studio).

Bhakti Yoga

Bhakti means devotion. Bhakti yoga means ‘Yoga Through Devotion’. As the name suggests in such tradition the optimum state of mind is attained to utmost devotion toward your ishta deva (the god you believe in). Here there is not much need of logical thinking or analysing. The only thing one needs is strong emotional connection with your ishta deva.

The traditions that can be considered as Bhakti Yoga are Dvaita Vedanta and other Bhagwad Sampradaya.

There are generally 9 steps in any Bhakti Yoga School.

  1. Shravanam: Listening to the stories or names of the ishta deva
  2. Keertanam: Chanting or singing the glories of your ishta deva
  3. Smaranam: Remembering your ishta deva.
  4. Pada Sevanam: Following certain rituals
  5. Archanam: Following certain temple rituals
  6. Vandanam: Following certain intense rituals
  7. Dasyam: Developing the identity as the servant of the ishta deva
  8. Sakhyam: Developing a feeling of friendship
  9. Atma Nivedanam: Fully Surrender of self.
Tantra Yoga

In general people understand that as the word Tantra has ‘Tan’ (which means body), so it is related to sex. It is not so. Tantra technically means psychic images that are formed in every mind of the universe. Tantra yoga means ‘Yoga Through Psyche”. The optimum state of mind is gained through various psychic experiments. Mostly these experiments are done by the sadhakas on their own.

This school is as primitive as Vedas and may be the tradition is more primitive than Vedas. In fact many Vedic rituals are inspired through Tantric Practices like Nyasa (Neutralizing the body parts through mantras). Many different yantras & mantras are applied in these traditions.

The tantric traditions trace back its origin to Kapalak or Kapaddhari, which means the one who holds human skull. Modern day tantrics are generally Aghori who are considered as followers of Baba Keenaram (Founder of Aghora Panth, 1601 AD). They belong to either Vama Panth (Left Path) & Dakshina Panth (Right Path).

There is usage of 5 ‘M’ Kara. That is Matsya (Fish), Mamsa (Meat), Madira (Alcohol), Maithun (Sex) & Mudra (Physical Gestures that induces different psychic states).  The practices of Vama Panthis are too much extreme for a common man to understand, Dakshina Panthis still okay for common people.

Hatha Yoga

Hatha Yoga is all about physical body, but not the way most people know it. Ha means Sun Tha means Moon. Hatha also means tenacious. It is believed that in order to overcome the ongoing misuse of tantric practices and to show the society the true essence of tantra, Baba Gorakhnath founded the school of Hatha Yoga. The Natha Sampradaya are the followers of Baba Gorakhnath. UP CM Yogi Adityanath belong to Natha Sampradaya.

The yoga that we see all over is actually the yoga propounded by Gorakhnathis (Followers of Baba Gorakhnath). Hatha yoga is many times referred to as Ghata Yoga, Chaturanga Yoga, Saptanga Yoga. In this system the body is studied very thoroughly and scientifically.

By doing proper practices under guidance one can achieve the optimum state of mind at will. Actual Hatha Yogis or Actual Tantrics are the masters of body & mind. And it can be said that they are masters of their life. The difference between Hatha Yoga & Tantra Yoga is that tantra yoga is much more psychic and advanced, while hatha yoga is psychic but more physical in nature and more systematic.

Raja Yoga

Raja means to rule. Here raja yoga means ‘To Rule The Body & Mind Through Yoga’. Whichever school a person belongs to, this is something that everyone has to practice. Without this there is no actual YOGA. In simple meaning, Raja Yoga is to apply on daily basic whatever one has learnt in his or her particular discipline of yoga.


यस्यब्रह्मणिरमतेचित्तं,नन्दति नन्दति नन्दत्येव॥१९॥

Through Yoga or Through Bhoga, With Company or Without Company. One who keeps his mind on Brahma, he and only he attains the Optimum.

Bhaja Govindam


Jnana Yogi

Are you a person who wants to analyse & dissect everything? Are you the person who is curious and wants to know about things around you? Are you the person who cannot blindly believe anything? Are you the person who cannot accept anything that doesn’t make sense?

If YES, then you are bound to become a Jnana Yogi. When you will become curious enough to know about life or about your true self or about universe then this path of knowledge will get you there.

Karma Yogi

Are you the person who wants to get things done? Are you the person who wants to take responsibility? Are you the person who doesn’t like to sit idle? Are you the person who has concern about other people? Are you the person who wants to help others?

If yes then Karma Yoga is the path for you. When you will give up all your expectations and personal agendas; when you will work for the betterment of the others as per your role & responsibility; when you will realize that everything that one does is not because he or she wishes to do but because it is only a service to mother nature, then you will become a true Karma Yogi.

Bhakta Yogi

Do you have very intense emotions? Does your emotion overpower you? Do you get extreme emotional swings? Do emotions appeal to you more than logic?

If yes then you will make a very strong & effective Bhakta Yogi. All you will have to do is turn your emotions to the one who connects you with the element that is beyond. Whatever your emotions are, turn it into a form of surrender and present it to that which connects you with that element.

It can be anyone, your guru, your father, guardian or your life coach. However my advice to you is that it is better if it is someone who is no longer in the human form. Understand mistakes are subject to human form and when someone who we look up to, does something wrong our bhakti is strongly damaged.

Your bhakti toward a person and the person himself are two different things. Understand that your bhakti liberates you and not the person. So it is better to choose someone who is gone or a guru or may be your ishta deva.

NOTE: That which cannot be perceived will not be perceived. And so we perceive the unperceived through that which can be perceived.

Raja Yogi

Are you the one who consider yourself to be 100 % responsible for everything in your life? Are you the one who believes in learning & development? Are you the one who believes in applying what you learn? Are you the one who is not afraid of taking risks and trying different experiments? Are you the one who consciously or unconsciously wants to take charge of your body, mind & life?

If yes then you tend to be a Raja Yogi. Every yogi, today or tomorrow has to be a Raja Yogi. Without Raja Yoga there is no liberation of the mind, there is no dissolution of the ego, there is no true YOGA. Just apply whatever you have learnt. Keep what works, throw out what doesn’t for you. Do self analysis from time to time and you will be on the path of Raja Yoga.


  • Make sure to not follow the trend blindly.
  • You according to your fundamental attribute should choose your own path.
  • Wherever you feel intuitively inclined you should go toward that path.

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