8. However, to understand the nature of the Self at the level of intellect, merely from the neck up, is not enough. What humans need is to experience our essence. This experience is called “enlightenment” (alternately called bodhi, nirvana,jivanmukti, paravidya, etc.). When an individual has this, only then is he released from the cycle of rebirth called samsara.
9. To enliven consciousness so that Atman might be experienced, Hindus practice one or more yogas. These are methods of awakening.
10. Among Westerners, the best-known yoga is Hatha. This yoga involves body positions called asanas and breathing exercises called pranayama.
11. The Bhagavad-Gita, “The Divine Song of God,” often called “the Gita,” is one of the most recent (3rd century B.C.) and best-known and loved parts of the wide array of Hindu Scripture. In the Gita, Lord Krishna tells the warrior prince Arjuna that there are three main paths to enlightenment:
- Jnana Yoga, the “path of wisdom” (which involves the study of sacred texts, meditation, and an ascetic lifestyle).
- Karma Yoga, the “path of action” (which involves close attention to ethics, compassion towards all living things, and service to others).
- Bhakti Yoga, the “path of devotion” (which involves pilgrimages, ceremonies, ritual offerings, visits to temples, etc.).