Bhagavad Gita describes four varieties of Yoga, namely Bhakti, Jnana, Karma and Astanga.
One may be curious to know the hierarchy of these Yogas to decide which one is most appropriate for them to practice. But these are the doubts of the people who fail to understand the logic of life. One can not quantify the Yoga ladder like currency notes to decide which one is better.
Certainly a thousand rupees bill has more value as compared to a hundred rupees bill, but this is not applicable in case with Yoga. So, one cannot make the distinction of these yoga ladders from a mundane view point.
Everyone wants to practice yoga through a particular path as per their preferences. Even though one may give emphasis on the progress through one particular path but one cannot completely avoid the other Yogic paths. When one understands yoga in proper guidance, he realizes that each type of Yoga has common foundational principle and in reality all the four Yogas are integrated.
In the sixth chapter of Bhagavad Gita, Sri Krishna teaches Arjuna the foundational principle of becoming a Yogi-the knowledge to perform the activities like eating, sleeping, recreation, working and wakefulness in proper moderation without causing conflict amongst them.
For example one may want to work for longer hours, but he or she cannot do that without proper sleep, food or recreation. So having a right balance in these activities makes one qualified to practice Yoga.Therefore, Sri Krishna says, “Be a yogi in every condition.”
Each Yoga system springs from the one particular faculty of human system while engaging other faculties of the body. Asthanga Yoga is the art of meditation based on achieving the proper posture through asanas, and pranayama.The main aim of this Yoga is to gain mind control to make the mind steady and focused.
The Buddhi yoga or Jnana Yoga springs from intelligence or buddhi, It prescribes the use of buddhi to study, discern and ascertain things in their right perspective. Jnana yoga involves the study of scriptures and participating in discourses with others. Eventually in this process of churning such knowledge, Jnana Yogi realizes the absolute truth.
Karma yoga springs from active senses such as hands, legs, mouth etc. where in practitioner learns the process from the predecessor teachers. In other words, it is the process of performing precise action based on the experience gained by practical learning from the previous generation.It is similar to a daughter learning the cooking skills from her mother by seeing, experiencing and eventually tasting the particular preparation.
Ultimately the Bhakti yoga is the heart of all yogas, because, it springs from one’s consciousness.The fundamental of Bhakti Yoga is that the Living being is ultimately ruled by love, while using senses and intelligence in pursuit of success. In essence, when we love the supreme absolute with all our heart, then it is called as bhakti yoga.But when that love is not so permeated but engages one to perform only actions, is called Karma yoga where one performs the work with a sense of duty. One who pursuits behind knowledge, finds God in his knowledge and moves ahead in life with gratitude is considered as Jnana yogi.
So, Bhakti is doing all the three simultaneously but with addition of the element of love emanating from the heart.
In Reality one is encouraged to naturally follow his particular path and his sampradaya with the right spirit, he grows with the right legacy and then all of above have the potential to harmonize.