The yoga taught by Lord Caitanya is as easy
as singing, dancing, and eating delicious food.
Nowadays when people think of yoga, they generally conjure up images of half-naked Indian yogis with long hair and beards sitting in the lotus position in the Himalayas, or they might picture the familiar scene of people contorting their bodies into various postures at ahatha-yoga studio. These popular images fall far short of the complete picture of yoga given in the Bhagavad-gita, wherein Lord Krsna instructs Arjuna, His friend and disciple, in the various yogasystems.
The word yoga, the origin of "yoke," means to link with the Supreme. Thus Lord Krsna's purpose in outlining the various processes of yoga in the Bhagavad-gita is to show Arjuna the ways in which different types of yogis try to attain Him. Krsna explains the four main types of yoga: karma-yoga, jnana-yoga, dhyana-yoga,and bhakti-yoga.
The basic understanding of all yogis is that actions in this world incur reactions that keep one bound up in material existence. Each type of yoga attempts in its own way to elevate the practitioner abovekarma and into the transcendental realm, where one can realize the Supreme.
Karma-yoga entails working in this world in an ordinary occupation but offering the fruit of one's labor to the Supreme Lord. By working for the Supreme in this way, one incurs no reaction for one's work, and through such selfless action, one will become purified and develop real, spiritual knowledge.
The cultivation of spiritual knowledge is known as jnana-yoga.The jnana-yogi, understanding the futility of working for material results, occupies himself with studying Vedanta, or Vedic philosophical works on the nature of the Absolute Truth. Dhyana-yoga is a mechanical process, divided into eight steps, that helps control the mind and senses with the aim of concentrating on the Lord in the heart. The bodily exercises people often equate with yoga are only one part of the bona fide system of dhyana-yoga, which is very difficult to practice in this age. We may look spiritual with our long hair and beard, or we may become fit by the yoga exercises, but breath control and yoga postures alone will not bring us to the goal ofyoga.
Many people who practice yoga today have no intention of making spiritual advancement. They simply want to improve their health or sexual abilities. And even if one is sincere, meditation even for short periods is extremely difficult in this age. To really performdhyana-yoga, one must be celibate, strictly control the mind, and refrain from all sensual activities.
The Vedic scriptures recommend that in this age everyone should practice bhakti-yoga, or devotional service to the Supreme Lord.Bhakti-yoga is in fact the goal of all yoga processes. In the Gita,Lord Krsna states that of all yogis, one who is engaged in His service is the highest.
Lord Krsna descended five hundred years ago as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to propagate bhakti in this age. Lord Caitanya introduced the essential element of bhakti; the chanting of the Lord's names: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Bhakti-yoga is based on this chanting. Other important aspects of bhakti-yoga include hearing the Lord's glories, remembering Him, offering Him prayers, and worshiping Him in His Deity form in the temple. Anyone in any condition of life can practice one or more aspects of bhakti-yoga,even while engaged in worldly responsibilities. A housewife, a businessman, or even a child can chant the names of the Supreme Lord and make spiritual progress. No wonder it is said in the scriptures that the demigods pray to take birth on earth in this age so that they may practice the easy process Lord Caitanya has given.
After Lord Caitanya's departure, His principal disciples, the six Gosvamis of Vrndavana, further expounded the science of bhakti,emphasizing the principle of yukta-vairagya, or using everything of this world in the service of the Supreme Lord. Following this principle, one offers everything to the Lord for His pleasure and then enjoys His remnants as prasadam, or "mercy." Thus one's senses are not artificially restrained, but they are offered spiritual engagement. Inbhakti-yoga, the devotee enjoys life by chanting, dancing, and eating sumptuous sanctified food. As the devotee works for Krsna and hears more and more about Him, he begins to see Him in everything. He thus experiences a higher, spiritual pleasure in life. This is the beauty of bhakti-yoga: one can perform it while remaining in any position of life.
Bhakti-yoga must, however, be performed under the guidance of the bona fide spiritual master, one who knows the art of dovetailing activities in Krsna consciousness. Bhakti-yoga is not unscientific or sentimental, as other yoga practitioners may suggest. It is appropriate for the modern age, and it has been carefully set down for our benefit in many exact spiritual literatures by the six Gosvamis and their followers. One of the Gosvamis' prominent followers is His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder-acaryaof the Hare Krsna movement, who has left a legacy of spiritual books. Though writing with the practical needs of modern society in mind, he in no way compromised the lofty principles of yoga. By a careful application of his relevant teachings, anyone can rise even in this materialistic age to the highest goal of life: Krsna consciousness.