Finding God to attain authentic spiritual happiness is the essence of all Hindu teachings.
In a world where there is unlimited variation and variety, Hinduism teaches there are only three paths or means to attain God. With so many developments that are taking place in material science, you might wonder how spiritual science could produce only three paths for finding God. Still, no matter what the human mind creates through any kind of science, science can’t be contrary to our fundamental nature.
For example, our eyes perform the action of seeing. No matter how technology develops, we will never be able to create a way to see through our ears. Similarly, because of the fundamental divine nature of God, the scriptures of Hinduism explain there are only three paths:
- Karma or action
- Jnana or knowledge
- Bhakti or devotion
There is no fourth path; whatever other style of devotion, meditation or practice exists, it is included within these three.
The Science of the the Three Paths
The science behind this is that God (or brahm) has three powers, corresponding to three natures, which directly relate to these three paths.
He is sat brahm (eternal existence), chit brahm (unlimited knowledge), and ananda brahm (unlimited bliss).
The nature of sat is karma or action, the nature of chit is jnana or knowledge, the nature of ananda is prem or divine love. Here is a simpler way to see this:
- Sat brahm –> nature of karma or action
- Chit brahm –> nature of jnana or knoweldge
- Anand brahm –> nature prem or divine love
The soul is your original spiritual self. As an eternal but infinitesimal fraction of God the soul also has these three kinds of natures: karma (action), jnana (knowledge), ananda (bliss).
Thus, the three paths of how to find God or Divine attainment correspond to these three natures — the path of karma (karma yoga), the path of jnana(jnana yoga), and the path of bhakti (bhakti yoga). God does not possess a fourth nature — all of His powers, forms, names, abodes, aspects, qualities and so on are within these three.
These paths were originally revealed in the Vedas. To know we could learn how to find God so easily is an extremely elegant and simple solution. But what happened to make these three into three thousand or even the thirty thousand we may observe nowadays?
Astonishingly, this same question was asked in the Bhagwatam by Uddhava to Krishna over 5,000 years ago.
“My Lord, so many paths have been told for the spiritual upliftment of the souls. Which ones are true and which are not? Why have so many of them come into existence? How can an ordinary person decide what to do? It’s like asking a blind person to describe something he could only do if he had sight. It’s impossible!”
Krishna’s response was that although these paths were revealed in the Vedas in their original form, the complication and confusion was due to interpretation. Those who read these teachings were under the influence of the three qualities or gunas of maya.
Because of this, those who were predominantly governed by the quality of satva, produced a satvik interpretation of the Vedas. Those dominated by the quality of rajas, gave a rajasi interpretation. Those dominated by tamas, gave a tamasi interpretation.
In this way over time, many paths were created for how to find God. On top of this, other traditional ideologies came into existence whose inner devotional essence was long since lost or forgotten. This was due to misinterpretation — not seeing and therefore not accepting the truth for what it was.
The Current Age
Fortunately, the knowledge for how to find God remains the same in every age, because not only our own spiritual nature, but also God’s nature is unchanging.
From time to time, true Saints also appear in this world to re-invigorate and re-establish the knowledge of these paths in their original form. By following their guidelines, we can follow the path to God in its original form and successfully fulfill our ultimate spiritual aim.