Which is the highest or best Yoga practice?

I love answering this question always and my answer, as always is, none. Yoga, is the end, not the means to achieve the end. Yoga is communion with the self. So whatever means suits you catches your attention, or strikes you as pragmatic and effective.

  • Ha tha Yoga
  • Kundalini Yoga
  • Sahaj Yoga
  • Kriya Yoga
  • SIddha Yoga
  • Tantra

among other instruments, to achieve this communion, are just instruments. Everything that we possibly need, is already there with us. Samkhya Cosmology maintains that there are 25 tattvas that manifest in this universe or creation. Incidentally (or not?), research shows that the human body contains 25 elements including some trace elements (not all) from the current periodic table, that play significant biological roles. Some may argue that there are 58 known elements or even all of them in our body. So be it.

The point here is, the human body is perhaps one of the most complex systems to have evolved. It encompasses the best known biological, chemical, electrical, magnetic and physical systems within it. It is not a wonder then, human beings are amongst the sentient species known. The human body is the best available tool, equipped with a powerful mind, to probe beyond the observable, to inquire the supernatural and to discover the metaphysical. Ultimately, to merge with the spiritual.

Anyways, I digress, coming back to which Yoga practice is the best; I would like to use the western movie analogy here. A cowboy who could draw fast, was the one who could shoot the others. He may or may not have the best hand gun in the world. His foes and contestants could even have rifles, cannons, shotguns. But, the gun was  and is as good as the hand that uses it. And, the hand is as fast as the mind that uses it. This was true, even when all shootists trained hard for precision and speed.

Similarly, in all yogic practices the body and the mind have to be trained. Scriptures, texts, tutelage, music, dance, entheogens, chanting, exercises and practice are all part of the training. This training is more to restructure the conditioning of the mind, to  be able to comprehend or accept that is inherent and within,  to better make sense of the day to outwardly experiences that we accumulate post birth.

Like the Oracle says to Neo in the Matrix, ” You have already made the choice! You are here to understand why you made it.”

There have been seers, religious revolutionaries like J. Krishnamurti who sought freedom from the Guru, the book, the tradition and the authoritarian voice of another. “Truth is within you”, he said, and to discover the truth in the luminous light of perception was to transform the very nature of thought and consciousness. It was to awaken intelligence, insight and abundant compassion. The total responsibility lies with the individual. No one, according to J.K. can free another.

Then there was, who I dare to call the nihilist yogi, U. G. Krishnamurti. He was an Indian thinker who questioned enlightenment. Although necessary for day to day functioning of the individual, in terms of the Ultimate Reality or Truth, he rejected the very basis of “thought” and in doing so negated all systems of thought and knowledge in reference to It.

“Tell them that there is nothing to understand.” he said.

Although many considered him an “enlightened” person, U.G. often referred to his state of being as the “natural state.” He claimed that the demand for enlightenment was the only thing standing in the way of enlightenment itself, if enlightenment existed at all. Incidentally, to clutch on to nirvana was also a desire and not a fool proof mechanism, as per the Buddha.

The legendary, Shri Ramakrishna Paramahansa, changed his religion several times to explore the ideology and philosophy behind each. Changing a religion for a Hindu was then and even today is a great taboo. Ramakrishna Paramahansa saw the mother goddess Kali in his wife and remained a celibate thereafter.

All said and done, all perceptions, ideas, beliefs and systems can be changed, broken, reused,  Religious doctrines, texts, philosophies, teachers, yogic systems all exist in abundance for men to extract what facilitates their quest and discard what they cannot. This does not imply, however, that we disrespect the means or belittle the efforts of others. Talking, listening, reading, following, imitating, meditating, self-enquiry, questioning, all are part of the process. Like a clay sculptor, who adds and removes clay as needed to sculpt, we must learn to imbibe and let go as need be. Adapt and Improvise.

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4 thoughts on “Which is the highest or best Yoga practice?

  1. Some believe that like the mind and the breath, even the understanding of the self, or knowing the self is just a catalyst. There are no limits to spiritual evolution. Some say, upon reaching such stages, one becomes evolution itself. Transcending yet permeating all entities, relations, processes, structures. They create spaces, times, universes, nourish them and dissolve them, as if it was child’s play.

  2. Greetings Epiphanatorr. What a lovely and well researched article you have here. I am very honored that you would include me in the related section.

    After reading this, I posed the same question to my teacher, and I paraphrase him poorly when I repeat it here. While all yogas are important because of their interconnectedness with each other, one might say that Karma Yoga is the highest, as it encompasses them all. We are truly great when we can work within the framework of karma, the Absolute’s great law. Then he told me to read Karma Yoga by Swami Vivekananda (and it sits patiently on my bookshelf, along with all of the other books my teacher has told me to read and that I haven’t got to yet).

    As you said, yoga is a form of harnessing the mind for its great creative faculty, and ultimately to achieve God-consciousness by raising Kundalini.

    Again, thank you for your article- I look forward to reading more. 😀

    • Hello Anne! Nice to hear from you. Thank you for your reply and kind words. Indeed your teacher is right. The principle of Karma is the principle of Causality and it governs the physical as well as the ethereal. Everyone, has to pay their Karmic debts, there is no escaping it. Even Rama, the God in Hindus, had to abide by the law of Karma and pay his debt, in his corporeal form on earth. However, one must not get caught up in the jargon. Do what you believe and believe in what you do. Believing in the Guru means we are already half way through. But, we should also understand that Guru’s are like doctors, the best spiritual doctors. They prescribe what they “see” in their disciples. The prescription could vary for each disciple. Every individual is here to fulfill certain Karmic obligations, these karmic obligations deeply influence the physical, mental and spiritual conditioning of the individual. The Guru, is aware of this conditioning, and prescribes the path, within the karmic boundaries. It is important to be within the Karmic boundaries, because it is the path with the least spiritual resistance, the path with minimal conflicts, or some say it is the path when the spiritual aspirant “accepts” the inevitable, thereby getting stronger to face the consequences of the reaction, to some past action, that has transmigrated across births, viz. Karma.

      Please keep an eye on the next post, which is the second part to Bhakti, Gnyana, Krma et al. Also, know, that there is no right or wrong for the devout intent. It is the degree of belief or faith that makes it appear stronger or weaker, right or wrong, good or bad.

      There is so much that can be spoken between, two spiritual travelers, the talks would never end. 🙂 Having said that, I always like to re-iterate, yoga is the end and not the means or the method.

    • Also bear my fellow seeker, that the karmas can be cleansed. Proportional to the amount of cleansing required, the outwardly ‘bhogas’ (worldly experiences) are redeemed. The ultimate is devoid of karma, guna and akar. I have been experiencing this in the past month’s meditation and thought I should share.

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