As per Bhagavad Gita… yoga and meditation meant the same. The Hinduism word for meditation is yoga which is derived from root word “yog” which in Hindi means to synthesize… to yoke… to join (spiritually). The effort of our soul atman, the spirit within to yoke with greater atman, God Almighty himself is termed yoga (meditation in English). Ever since every soul atman separated from God Almighty… it tries rejoining the same at the earliest.
In Hinduism a soul is termed atman.
Yoga meditation was the means, our soul atman reaching God Almighty… the ultimate goal of life! It was through process of yoga meditation human beings finally reached stage of enlightenment (termed kaivalya jnana in Hinduism). Reaching stage of enlightenment meant our soul atman, the spirit within gaining absolute purity forever. This liberated soul atman devoid of dross impurities within finally entered kingdom of God… abode of God (termed Vaikuntha in Hinduism).
Bhagavad Gita of Hinduism detailed in clear terms how indulging in yoga meditation human beings finally reached stage of enlightenment forever. Yoga meditation can be indulged in many ways like… process of self enquiry, path of Neti (not this, not this)… practising pranayama (the correct breathing process)… indulging in karma yoga, bhakti yoga and finally jnana yoga (path of absolute wisdom). Karma yoga means indulging in karma, nishkama karma way. Bhakti yoga meant surrender to God Almighty in totality. Path of jnana yoga… path of absolute wisdom was the final path for reaching God in present life.
Path of jnana yoga (absolute wisdom) meant indulging in self enquiry… path of Neti to reach God! Reaching God in present life time was not that easy… prime reason why God Almighty ordained a journey of 1.1 million manifestations in human form before our soul atman finally liberated self from cycle of birth and death forever. The moment our karma negated to zero, human beings gained enlightenment forever. Karma can only be negated to zero by establishing absolute control over five senses and mind.
For establishing absolute control over five senses and mind… path of yoga meditation that was necessitated was path of jnana yoga… path of absolute wisdom! Indulging in teachings contained in Bhagavad Gita meant indulging in path of jnana yoga. Any human being world over… just by following principles of life detailed in Bhagavad Gita can ceremoniously follow path of spirituality that finally led to God Almighty. One single scripture… Bhagavad Gita of Hinduism sufficed for human beings reaching stage of enlightenment in present life.
In the present scientific age one need not follow Hinduism Vedas (Hinduism revelations) as yagna and sacrifices were not necessitated in present times. Contemplation on teachings contained in Bhagavad Gita was the only path to reach God in present life. Unless we learnt to contemplate on jnana wisdom contained in various sacred scriptures of different religions of world… we could never reach stage of enlightenment in present life. Those who thought God Almighty could be reached via path of religion… path of rituals were totally mistaken.
This is proved from life of both Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa and Maharishi Ramana. These two spiritual stalwarts Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa and Maharishi Ramana initially started their search of God via path of bhakti yoga. Realizing that God Almighty could not be reached in absence of contemplation… both changed over to path of jnana yoga (path of absolute wisdom) to reach God in their lifetime. In the last about 150 years amongst 7 billion people existing world over… only Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa and Maharishi Ramana finally reached God.
I say it with experience that none other than Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa and Maharishi Ramana finally succeeded in reaching God in the last about 150 years. One glance at the writings of one and everything becomes clear. Swami Sivananda… Paramhansa Yogananda… Sri Aurobindo… even Swami Vivekananda did not reach stage of enlightenment in their lifetime. Amongst all these travellers of religious and spiritual path, Swami Vivekananda could have easily reached God under able preceptorship of Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa.
But, goal of life for Swami Vivekananda was serving community to its best. No matter how much Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa goaded Swami Vivekananda to realize God in his lifetime… he refused to part his ways. Swami Vivekananda died at the young age of 39. Every single traveler of spirituality can draw lot of inspiration from life of Swami Vivekananda. Only if we could duplicate achievements of Swami Vivekananda… we could easily reach God in present life. By duplicating path undertaken by Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa and Maharishi Ramana, I finally realized God in 1993 at 37 years of age. This is my last manifestation on mother earth.
Path of yoga meditation were many… but most important of all was our willpower. One had to possess the extraordinary willpower exhibited by Swami Vivekananda to reach God… to gain enlightenment in present life! If we sincerely and seriously study spiritual literature relating to Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa and Maharishi Ramana… we could easily unveil hidden secrets of spirituality, knowing which human beings finally reached God. Path of spirituality was tough… totally untrodden still, for an ardent seeker of spirituality… nothing was impossible!
Path of contemplation, path of self enquiry… path of Neti (not this, not this) advocated and followed by Maharishi Ramana was a sure shot method of reaching God in present life. At every stage of spiritual life, contemplation was the only way following which travellers of spiritual path finally succeeded in unveiling pearls of wisdom contained in sacred Bhagavad Gita of Hinduism. The 700 shlokas verses contained in Bhagavad Gita were priceless, ageless… Having no parallel in mankind! Truly Hinduism was spiritual citadel of world that had scriptures like Bhagavad Gita in its kitty. Other than Bhagavad Gita, the eleven primary Upanishads (independent treatises) were also priceless.
Human beings can follow any path of meditation yoga to reach God as per convenience. But we must always remember one thing… we had only one life to live, the present earthly sojourn. After death of present body, we do not know what form our soul atman manifests in next life. Leaving things to chance… leaving spiritual life to next manifestation is not intelligent decision. Almost all people I came across in 50 years of spiritual travail emphasized that they intended to follow spiritual life in next manifestation. Those who could not do it now, how can they be expected to follow path of spirituality in next life? One can fool others… but why fool self!