Religious Beliefs

What are Hinduism’s Principal Spiritual Paths?

Ancient tradition distinguishes among several key spiritual paths or margas. First and most fundamental is that of karma, action: proper ritual and ethical action as a means to spiritual progress, including purification of one’s deeds through detachment from the fruits of one’s actions. More demanding is the path of jñana or knowledge: attainment of intuitive or mystical understanding of the essential unity of all reality, resulting from a meditative approach to the scriptures and wisdom traditions. But perhaps the most broadly pursued as a mode of popular spirituality is the way of devotion or bhakti: “participation” in the divine life through devotion to a chosen manifestation of the deity, complete emotional attachment to the chosen deity, and unselfish service to God.


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