The Four Yogas Or The Four Paths To Spiritual Enlightenment (in the words of the ancient Rishis)

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Item Code: IDE067
Publisher: Bharatiya Vidya Bhawan
Author: Swami Atmananda
Language: English
Edition: 1991
Pages: 250
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 8.7" X 5.7"
Weight 310 gm
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Book Description
From the Jacket:


Science has been contributing to the material convenience and comfort of man, so steadily and in such progressive measure that we now live in a condition of physical ease incomparable beyond that in which our forefathers did at the turn of the century. Yet this has not increased our genera happiness or brought us the inward joy of living. Indeed the failure of Science in the procurement of genuine joy has been as ignominious as its success in the creation of artificial comfort has been wonderful.

Nor is this a matter of surprise. Peace, which is the basis of all real joy, can never be the fruit of the labours of Science. For Science works and can work only with the things of passing existence, the destructible materials of the physical plane; Peace and Joy are the permanent values of the Essence of Living-the Spirit.

The understanding of the Spirit-Spirituality-alone can confer permanent Peace on man and make him fit for real Joy. The Spirit, which is but the universal aspect of God, is the Goal of the seeker everywhere. The different religions of the world differ not in this Goal but in the ways which they open to mankind to reach it.

Hinduism is nothing if not catholic. Its catholicity discovered, earlier than all other religious systems, the differences in the mental make-up of man. And, in its understanding sympathy, Hinduism found and prescribed for the benefit of mankind in all grades and planes of intellect and mind different paths in Spirituality.

These different paths are different only in their courses. Both at the starting point and at the destination they join the same points. Here is the individual soul-the pilgrim-, and there is the Universal Soul-the Spirit, God, or whatever we choose to call it. Even the differences in the paths are felt only while one traverses them, and produce different passing results in the duration of travel, but the moment one 'arrives' the awareness of the paths and their qualities disappears entirely. Oneness results.

Karma, Bhakti, Raja and Jnana Yogas are the four paths dealt with in this book. Sri Krishna, Narada, Patanjali and Vyasa formulated and expounded these Yogas. The author, with his knife-edge intellect, has cut off the intricacies of these principal Yogas and presented them to the reader in their essential and fundamental quality as clear paths each one of which he can tread with the complete confidence that, by following it with unfaltering faith, he will 'arrive'.


About the Author:


Swami Atmanands (S. Neelakanta Iyer) was born in 1889 in Chittur, Palghat District, Kerala. As a B.A.L.T. he was in private educational service till1930 when he joined the Salt Satyagraha as one of the leaders of that movement in Kerala. He was the General Captain of the Salt Satyagraha volunteers at Payyanur.

He came into close contact with Gandhiji at Madras in 1916. He was an active worker in the Congress since 1919. He was at the Vaikom Satyagraha camp as Gandhiji's personal attendant, which duty he did every time Gandhiji visited Kerala. In 1929 he acted as the local secretary of Pandit Malaviyajji when he toured Kerala. He was the first secretary of the Harijan Sevak Sangh, Cochin-Travancore area, from 1932 to 1934. Form August 1934 to May 1937 he was an honorary worker in the Madras Ramakrishna Mutt, working in the Student's Home, Mylapore, Madras.

He was one of the organizers of the Cochin State Praja Mandal in 1940 and continued as its President, except for a short break, till 1950. In 1943 as the President of the Praja Mandal he attended the memorable "Quit India" Bombay A.I.C.C. session and on return was arrested and jailed at Trichur. It was while in jail that he arranged the teachings of Sankara. A devotee of Swami Ramdas since 1939 he took Sanyas from him in 1950. He was the Acharya of the Veda Sastra Pathasala, Chittur, from 1950 to 1963. He was also a member of the Jnana Ashram, Parlikad, Kerala, and the Working President, Bharat Sadhu Samaj, Kerala Branch.



A new call is being heard that Science and Spirituality should rule the world; Science alone is not adequate. The innumerable inventions of Science and Technology may add to the passing comforts and conveniences of man, but Spirituality alone can assign values and confer on man permanent peace and joy.

The nature of Science is well comprehended by man but not so well the characteristics of Spirituality. The purpose of this book is to bring-out the essential ideas centering round the word Spirituality.

The modern tendency in the West is to make a sharp distinction between Religion and Spirituality. Religion was a word which had a wide enough connotation and, then, it included elements of Spirituality within its sweep. But, as it came to be recognised, that there has been evolution in religious ideas also the use of the word ‘Religion’ is now being restricted to certain of its earlier aspects and the word ‘Spirituality’ is used to denote the more evolved aspects.

Religious Rites or Rituals of various sorts exist in every religion; be it Hinduism, or Christianity, or others. Rituals arc the first manifestations in man’s attempt to propitiate the mysterious force, which man intuitively felt as guiding his destiny. This mysterious and mighty Being was called God. Symbolic Rites came into being to obtain from God various favours which were beyond man’s power to acquire. This is a feature which is invariably found in every Religion in the world; only these Rites, which were symbolic, differed with each Religion. The Philosophy of Religion steadily grew up, explaining the relation of man to God. The present tendency is to restrict the use of the word ‘Religion’ to its earlier phase.

The history of Vedic Religion in India shows the same phenomena. At first the word ‘Vedas’ comprehended the three distinct portions of the Vedas, viz., Samhitas (collection of Hymns in praise of the it the-if Brahmanas (the portions prescribing and delineating Rituals). and the Upanishads (the philosophical portions).

The Upanishads deal with the Spirit, the indweller in man; not with God nor with Rituals to propitiate Him. So, one great ancient investigator, about the significance of the Vedas did not End the necessity to include the Upanishads within the scope of his work. The Upanishads then came to be called ‘Vedanta’ (the concluding portions of the Vedas) in contrast with the rest of the Vedas known as ‘Vedas’. Similarly the word ‘Religion’ has shrunk in the extent of its meaning and the word ‘Spirituality’ has come to signify the more evolved part of Religion. The Vedanta is called Adhyatma Vidya, the Science regarding the Atman or the Spirit of man, as also the method of meditation useful for purifying the mind and realizing the Atman. Now, among the Hindus, a Vedantin (one who takes to Vedanta. giving up the Rituals) has come to be recognised as a man of far higher religious evolution than a Karmi (one who still sticks to Rituals).

So the rise of the word ‘Spirituality’ denotes that religious men of all communities in general want to forge ahead in the current religious evolution. It calls the attention of humanity to the fact that it is time they seek to realize the One Spirit dwelling within all of them, rather than to continue blindly the performance of Rituals in order to propitiate God and receive gifts from Him. Every votary of Spirituality will welcome this higher outlook.

This book, The Four Yogas, is essentially meant to place before the world the glorious attempts made by Sri Krishna and the three Indian Rishis Narada, Patanjali and Vyasa — as also by their eminent commentator, Sri Sankara, to enunciate and elucidate the most advanced religious principles and practices conducive to the fostering of Spirituality in India. It is in the hope that their teachings may be useful to the world at this moment, that this book is being presented.

Rituals, though a necessary and inevitable preliminary step for the votaries of every Religion like the mother’s milk for the baby —— have to be outgrown. The Sadhakas should steadily advance in Spirituality and take to meditation and contemplation — the most evolved forms of religious discipline. The world has first to recognise this fact before the people take to it in larger numbers.

But in between the two poles of Religion, lies Ethics. sense-control and mind-control. A practice of these, with the right attitude of detachment, forms the essential foundation for the magnificent superstructure of Spirituality. Ethics and control of the mind are essential not only for Spirituality but also for welfare and peace in this warring world. Discords, both economic and social. can end only if the importance of Ethics is recognised and practised by the people.

The religious heads of every religion will do well to educate and advise their followers to give more importance to the practice of Ethics in their lives. The whole world agrees on this point, only it is not given the needed attention. The Pontifices of all Religions can build a World Union of Religions on Ethics. On this common basis of Ethics a common superstructure of Spirituality will come naturally.

This book will have served its purpose if it paves the way for a greater recognition of Ethics and Spirituality. The methods for the cultivation of Spirituality, as advocated by the Sages of India, form the theme of this book.

The Sanskrit passages quoted in the book give, so to say, the cream of spiritual science and practice. They are recommended for daily Parayana (the reverential reading of portions of Scriptures). They will serve to keep in memory the principles and, what is more, give the devoted reader the needed correctives in his spiritual practice.





Chap. I : YOGA: The Vital Part in The Practice of Religion  
  Religion eternal 1
  Rituals 3
  Yogas 3
  Rituals and Yoga 4
  Yoga poles apart from Rituals 8
  The Practice of Yoga 9
  The Common Ground of Religions and Yogas 11
  The Texts


Chap. II : RITUALS - An Assessment  
  Origin 15
  The Sharp Division between Karma and Jnana 16
  The Result of Rituals 18
  Results Change with Mental Attitude 19
  History of Rituals in India 20
  The Pinnacle of Ritualism 21
  The Grotesque Claims of Mimamsa 21
  Sankara's Fundamental Propositions 22
  The Greatest Argument 23
  Sankara's Purpose 23
  Any Other Purpose for Ritual 24
  Rituals Change Form 25
  Sankara and Mandana Misra 26


  Genesis of Karma Yoga 32
  Theory of Karma 33
  The Vicious Circle 34
  Another Dilemma 35
  Rationale of Karma Yoga 37
  Humanitarianism and Karma Yoga 41
  Humanitarian work not the only field 44
  Ritual and Karma Yoga 45
  Is Karma Yoga an independent one? 45
  Karma Yoga only an indispensable first step 46
  Karma Yoga, the lower rung to other Yogas 50
  Karma to evolve into Karma Yoga 51
  Some misconceptions 55
  Renunciation of Action 57
  The Sanyasin and the World 58
  Gita Verses on Karma Yoga 58
  The Correct Light on Karma 63
  Spiritual Evolution versus Material Evolution


  Introduction 66
  Bhakti in Religious Literatuer 68
  Gita on Bhakti 70
  Vedic Rituals versus Bhakti 72
  Paraa Bhakti of the Gita 74
  Naarada's Bhakti Sutras 75
  Introduction 75
  The Attributes of Paraa Bhakti 77
  A caution regarding Paraa Bhakti 80
  Superiority of Bhakti Yoga 82
  Gauni Bhakti or Preliminary Bhakti 84
  Earlier Disciplines - negative and positive 86
  Disciplines for Paraa Bhakti 87
  Snares on the path 88
  Beneficial to the world also 89
  Vedanta and Bhakti Yoga 90
  Nama Japa


  The Principle of Evolution 95
  Creation or Evolution? 96
  Evolution in India and the West 96
  Principle of Evolution 97
  The Great Discoveries of Kapila 98
  The Gunas of the Mind 99
  Yogic Psychology 100
  Purusha 102
  Atman 102
  Ahamkara 102
  Maya 102
  Why is Maya incomprehensible? 103
  Aim of Yoga 103
  The Going in Yoga 104
  Evolution in Universe 104
  The Tanmatras 105
  Purusha or Atman or Seer


  General Observations 109
  The Human Problem and its Solution 110
  Some Important Definitions of Terms 112
  Chitta 112
  Vritties 112
  Restraint 113
  Concentration 113
  Samadhi 113
  Definition of God 114
  Drashta, (the Seer) and Drishya (the seen) 115
  Evolution and not Creation 118
  False Identification or Avidya 120
  Maya and the means of dispelling it 122
  Samskaras (impressions) and their conquest 124
  About Prarabdha 124
  Now about Aagami and Sanchita: 125
  Prati-Prasava (reverse of birth) 125
  Prati-Prasava and Operation 126
  General aids to Yoga 127
  Specific aids to Yoga 128
  The Specific Aids to Yoga - Its Eight Limbs dealt with one by one 129
  Ethical Excellence Essential 130
  And Not Rituals 130
  Yama and Niyama 132
  Definition of Yama 132
  The Effect of Ethical Excellence 133
  Posture - Bodily aids 134
  Pranayama 135
  Pratyahara 136
  Caution 136
  The Heart of Yogic Practice 136
  Freedom is beyond even Dharma 138
  Samadhi with Seed and Siddhis 138
  Siddhis - Their Nature 139
  Other Aspects about Samadhi 140
  Varieties of Samadhis 141
  (a) Savitarka 141
  (b) Nirvitarka 141
  (c) Savichara and (d) Nirvichara 142
  (e)Sananda and (f) Asmita 142
  Samprajnata Samadhi 143
  Asamprajnata Samadhi 143
  Other Methods to Samadhi 144
  The Doctrine of Karma and Rebirth 145
  Causes of misery and rebirth 145
  The function of God 147
  Karma and Progress 147
  Kaivalya 148
  Kaivalya from Other Viewpoints 151
  Vedanta Improves on Yoga 152
  Sarvatmabhava (becoming one with all) 153
  The Basis of Ethics 153
  The Gita on Yoga


  The Basis of Jnana Yoga 159
  Relation of Vedanta to other Schools 160
  The Preliminary Steps 161
  The Object of Meditation here 162
  Atman does Exist 162
  Upanishadic Statement on Atman 164
  Transcending the Sense - Its double aspects 166
  Jnana Yoga 167
  Rituals inadequate 169
  Ethics Essential 170
  Rishis are not destructive but constructive 170
  Reason will help to take to Ethics 170
  Viveka and Vairagya 170
  Desire for Freedom 171
  Karma Yoga in Daily Life 172
  Interpretation supported by Sutras 172
  Difference between Karma and Jnana 176
  The New Insight 178
  Two Kinds of Meditation 182
  Fruit of Knowledge here and now 184
  Jnana Sadhana - How Long? 185
  Important caution in meditation 186
  Contrast in the Attitude of the Mind in Karma and Jnana 187
  Other Aids 188
  Fulfilment and its Nature 189
  When does the Insight Dawn? 191
  The Co-operation Causes 191
  Realisation not the fruit of meditation 192
  Another aspect of the same 193
  Meditation and Meditation 194
  Pratika Upasana 196
  Jnana Yoga and Patanjali Yoga 197
  The Superiority of Jnana as seen from result 198
  The World no Illusion 199
  Man's Bondage too real before Freedom 202
  The Gita and Jnana Yoga


  The Essentials of the Yogas 204
  The Basis of Yoga 204
  The Evolution in the Idea of God 205
  Evolution of Sadhana also 206
  Charity and Ethics 206
  The Super conscious Experience or Yoga 207
  The Three Steps 207
  Science and Spirituality 209
  Why the Different Yogas? 210
  The New Insight of Experience 211
  The Great Mystery or Maya 211
  Taboos to be observed 213
  Rituals - The weak and ineffective Means 214
  Yatna (effort) is necessary, though not Karma (Rituals) 216
  Ethics: The First Positive Step in Spirituality 217
  Karma Yoga 218
  Meditation: the Final and The Most Important Step


  A Brief Summary 224
  The Form of the Darsanas 227
  Subject Matter of the Darsanas 227
  Vedas 228
  God 228
  Atman and Mind 228
  Universe 229
  Pramanas - Sources of Knowledge 229
  Moksha 229
  A Summary




Appendix III : SAMADHIS 233
  Samprajnata Samadhi - A Sabeeja Samadhi 233
  Asamprajnata Samadhi - The Nirbeeja Samadhi 234
  Bhava Samadhi 234
  Savikalpa Samadhi 235
  Nirvikalpa Samadhi 235
  Sahaja Samadhi 235


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