According to Hinduism: Yoga is means, and the four major marga (paths) discussed in Hinduism are: Bhakti Yoga (the path of love and devotion), Karma Yoga (the path of right action), Rāja Yoga (the path of meditation), Jñāna Yoga (the path of wisdom) ref here and The essentials of Hinduism.

Another method of Yoga is the one explained by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras which could be considered by some a form of Raja Yoga. ref here

Atha yoga-anushashanam. Yogash chitta virtti nirodhah.
I will now review for you how we become whole. We become whole by stopping how the mind turns. Yoga Sutras 1.1 and 1.2

Pantanjali's ashtanga advices to follow an eightfold path (Yamas, Niyamas, Asanas....) to attain samadhi ( superconscious experience of union of the individualized soul with Cosmic Spirit ) that will ultimately lead us to kaivalya (moksha). The path length is not defined because you ignore your karmic past and effort is not enough to remove the obstacles. That lead us to two key concepts which are:

Abhyasa vairagyabhyam tan nirodhah. Tatra sthitau yatnobhyasah.

Stopping it requires constant practice, and giving up your attachments(detachment). Constant practice means striving to be there. Yoga Sutras 1.11 1.12

Being good at stopping the mind does not require you to dedicate your life to do altruistic actions (karma) nor it requires you to pursuit knowledge or ask yourself anything which is a mental activity different from stopping your thoughts (Jñāna), nor it does require you to worship any gods or symbols (Bhakti). If you go on in the path pointed out in the sutras and you follow the Abhyasa(practice) and vairagya(detachment) you ultimately need to detach yourself from all the paths, objects of devotion, knowledge, symbols, sutras, egos and mental constructs, including the sutra itself because you need to let go of everything to experience samadhi. How is that compatible with the other paths? Would Pantanjali tell you that you won't obtain kaivalya if you follow the other paths?

  • Under asthAnga yOga, the first 3 are meant for majority of the people but not for all . They are Yama, Niyama and Asana. Yama, Niyama are purification methods of self as well as for burning off one's prArabdha. Asana is for making the body fit, for further stages of practices like pranayama and dhyana. So some may not require the preliminary stages.@PbxMan Sep 11, 2019 at 16:52
  • @srimannarayanakv that's for the Sutra but how does the Sutras fit with the other 3 paths?
    – PbxMan
    Sep 11, 2019 at 17:07
  • God is dual-natured as per Sanatan Dharma where Vedas highlight Nirguna formless Purusha(consciousness) while Puranas highlight Saguna form Prakriti(nature/matter). Hence entire creation is based on daulity that is Man-Women, Day-Night, Right-Left, 2 hands, 2 eyes etc., Like I told you God is both light and darkness. Not everyone can renounce and follow monkhood and Patanjali Yoga Sutras which is the tougher path of masculine God especially less privileged and poor and lesser evolved souls who cant understand world is temporary after reading Vedanta or have enlightened Guru well versed in Yog
    – user16530
    Sep 11, 2019 at 17:13
  • For lesser evolved souls and who dont have Gurus there are Karma and Bhakti Yoga as God is Omnipresent as the feminine mother nature herself is the Cosmic brain who has created this entire universe and its system. So, technically everything is God but not for a bound soul in ego just like a child cant understand complex things without proper schooling and maturity. Just like there is no God or religion for devolved animal souls. All the 4 paths, even if one of it is followed seriously by an aspirant eventually leads to negation of ego and enlightenment.
    – user16530
    Sep 11, 2019 at 18:09
  • 1
    You can go through this answer (hinduism.stackexchange.com/a/36205/3869 )@PbxMan Sep 11, 2019 at 22:03

2 Answers 2


Apparently there is no compatibility, but yes, Asthanga Yoga is a combination of Bhakti, Karma and Jnana Yoga, apart from containing techniques Asana and Pranayama, for keeping the body and mind fit for spiritual pursuit.

Let us consider the Preliminary and later parts of Asthanga Yoga.

  1. Yama is the first of the eight limbs of yoga outlined in the yoga sutras. Yama is also sometimes called “the five restraints” because it describes what one should avoid to advance on the spiritual path.

Here is the full list with explanation:

Ahimsa: Non-violence or harmlessness. This cannot always be practiced literally since it is not always possible in the normal course of living. Even washing one’s hands kills bacteria. To perfect ahimsa one must not wish harm on any creature.

Satya: Non-lying or truthfulness. This doesn’t mean to be tactless, but to always tell the highest truth. It is in the “restraints” category because if one restrains oneself from wishing things were other than they are, one will always tell the truth.

Asteya: Non-covetousness. Not wishing for more than one has, or for what another has.

Brahmacharya: Sexual self-restraint. Literally means “flowing with Bramha.” This is often translated as celibacy, but can also just be taken as sexual self-control, or overcoming sexual desire. According to the yoga sutras, this practice will give one great mental and physical stamina because it prevents one’s energy from being expended in sexuality. Self control in all things is the direction of true growth.

Aparigraha: Non-possessiveness. Letting go of all attachment to one’s possessions, including one’s body, and being willing to relinquish them all at a moment’s notice.

  1. Niyama is the second limb of the spiritual path as outlined by the ancient sage Patanjali in his yoga sutras. It lists five things you should do to make spiritual progress. They are:

Saucha: Cleanliness of the body, mind, and heart.

Santosha: Contentment. To attain this one must realize that nothing in the world can make them happy. Everything one needs lies in one’s own Self.

Tapasya: Austerity or self-restraint. This does not mean harming or depriving oneself of essential needs (which would violate the first yama, ahimsa).

Swadhyaya: Self-study or introspection. This is sometimes translated as “study of the scriptures,” but the literal meaning is “Self-study,” or study of the Higher Self. To achieve this niyama, one should always question one’s motives and reasoning, and stay open to the possibility that one could be wrong.

Ishwarapranidhana: Worship of the Supreme Self.

  1. Pratyahara : the withdrawing of the mind and senses from the objects of the senses

  2. Dharana : concentration; one-pointed focus.

  3. Dhyana : steadfast meditation on God or the Higher Self.

  4. Samadhi : complete absorption in the Infinite — literally “oneness.”

Sri Krishna says in 12.62 and 12.63 of Bhagavad Gita that desire is the root cause of all problems. Desire can be for sexual intercourse, enmassing riches, severe itching for gaining fame, etc.

Is it that easy to eradicate desires? No.

If a person engulfed with various desires tries for Dhyana or meditation, will his/her mind allow to meditate? Again NO. The desires will definitely hamper his meditation.

Then what is the method to overcome the thoughts on desires, in meditation?

Ahimsa, Satya, etc, listed under Yama and Saucha, Santosha and Swadhyaya listed under Niyama will purify mind from getting distracted from thinking towards coveting something that does not belong to one, towards physically harming someone, towards amassing too much of wealth, towards getting fame, itching too much for sexual intercourse, etc, either in wakeful state and in sleep also.

Slowly mind gets accustomed to performing one's duties with dedication, without thinking of results. If a person is possessed with any desire he/she has undergo it, enjoy it and leave it, but without getting dissolved into it. That is Karma Yoga.

Tapasya and Ishwarapranidhana listed under Niyama will assist one in turning one's mind towards praying to the Almighty God.

Here one can take the path of Bhakti or Pure Meditation, depending upon one's taste/prArabdha, for praying to the God, while one is practicing the Yama, Niyama. The lesser the intensity of the desires, the deeper the concentration in bhakti/meditation.

Bhakti or Jnana Yoga.

Once the intensity sets in, the remaining course of action will be taken care by the Almighty God, to lead one to Samadhi or Self Realisation.

  • There is no god in Samkhya which is the Pantanjali's philosophy.
    – PbxMan
    Sep 16, 2019 at 11:28
  • What do you think of Ishwarapranidhana mentioned in my answer?@PbxMan Sep 16, 2019 at 13:43

Patanjali's Yoga is a Indian system of philosophy. The practical methods that Patanjali outlines in his Yoga Sutras is also known as Raja Yoga. But different Indian systems of philosophy define Yoga in different terms. Professor Chandradhar Sharma writes in his classical book A Critical Survey of Indian Philosophy p 169 in latest edition, (p 157, older edition here - https://archive.org/details/IndianPhilosophyACriticalSurvey):

Patanjali is the traditional founder of the Yoga system. The word 'Yoga' literally means 'union', i.e., spiritual union of the individual soul with the Universal Soul and is used in this sense in the Vedanta. The Gita defines Yoga as that state than which there is nothing higher or worth realizing and firmly rooted in which a person is never shaken even by the greatest pain; that state free from all pain and misery is Yoga. According to Patanjali, Yoga does not mean union but spiritual effort to attain perfection through the control of the body, senses and mind, and through right discrimination between Purusha and Prakrti.

Yoga is intimately allied with Sankhya. The Gita calls them one. Yoga means spiritual action and Sankhya means knowledge. Sankhya is theory; Yoga is practice. For all practical purposes, Sankhya and Yoga may be treated as the theoretical and practical sides of the same system. Yoga mostly accepts the metaphysics and the epistemology of Sankhya. It shows the practical path by following which one may obtain to Viveka-jnana which alone leads to liberation. Yoga accepts the three pramanas-perception, inference and testimony of Sankhya and also the twenty-five metaphysical principles. Yoga believes in God as the highest Self distinct from other selves. Hence it is sometimes called 'Seshvara Sankhya' or 'theistic Sankhya' as distinct from classical Sankhya which is nirishvara or atheistic.

There is no Bhakti or Karma Yoga in the system of Patanjali. The 'way' is through the methods outlined in his Sutras. Kaivalya has different connotations in different systems of Indian philosophy.

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