The only thing that distinguishes them is that each path or practice involves a different component of the mind. Karma Yoga involves the active component of the mind; Bhakti Yoga involves the emotional side; Raja Yoga involves the mystical aspect; and Jnana Yoga involves the intellectual aspect. All paths aim at liberation through self-discipline.
Karma Yoga is based on action. The idea is to act in accordance with knowledge and not be influenced by emotion. In other words, one should know what to do and then do it, rather than dreaming about our desires and hoping they will be satisfied. The goal is to produce good actions that lead to good consequences, building confidence and strength of character.
In contrast, Bhakti is based on love. The aim here is to enjoy God's love by feeling its effects in your own heart. It is also important to understand that love for another person can never make that person complete, because no one can satisfy your needs for you. As soon as you give your love away, it becomes lost. But love for God is different because He is always there for you. He will not leave you nor will He ever fail to meet your needs.
Bhakti is about devotion. You grow closer to God when you express gratitude for His gifts (love) and seek His help in changing your own negative habits (action).
Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Raja Yoga, and Jnana Yoga are the four primary streams of yoga. These four pathways are analogous to tree branches or river streams. They all come from the same location and end up in the same place. They are, in essence, all the same. The difference is just in their speed of flow.
Karma Yoga is the most urgent of these paths. It is the quickest way to attain liberation. Under its guidance, one must perform action that is an expression of love for others. This can take the form of helping others, giving charity, etc.
Bhakti Yoga is the next path. It is the easiest way to reach enlightenment. Under its guidance, one must focus on the manifestation of God's energy in creation. As this energy flows through you, it will bring you closer to God. At the end of this journey, when you feel ready, you will be able to engage in spiritual conversation with God.
Raja Yoga is the third path. It is the middle way between karma and bhakti. One who follows this pathway aims to become a stable presence for others by means of wisdom (jnana) and strength (raja).
Jnana Yoga is the most advanced path. It is also called the "path of knowledge". The goal of jnana yoga is complete awareness.
But they differ in the emphasis that each branch places on certain qualities over others.
Karma Yoga is the first path and begins with the pursuit of material gain. It involves working with the body's physiology and using the mind to control physical processes. The goal is to achieve internal peace and happiness through self-discipline and effort.
Bhakti Yoga is the second path and starts with awareness of one's inner self. It focuses on loving devotion to a personal god or goddess. This path leads to emotional fulfillment through prayer and meditation. It also includes performing acts of kindness for others without expecting anything in return.
Raja Yoga is the third path and starts with understanding the nature of reality. It investigates the difference between consciousness and existence, and uses this knowledge to still the mind so that it becomes quiet and peaceful. After this initial stage has been achieved, the practitioner moves on to more advanced practices such as Asanas (postures), Pranayama (breathing exercises), and Mudras (hand gestures).
Yoga and meditation are regarded the same in both circumstances due to their similarities, yet there are significant distinctions between them. Meditation is, in fact, one of the components of Sage Pat Anjali's Astana Yoga. The persistent concentration of the human mind on a certain object or religious symbol is referred to as meditation. While yoga is an integrated system of physical, mental and spiritual practices used for self-development, it differs from meditation in that the aim of meditation is often only mental clarity or peace of mind, whereas yoga aims at achieving physical and psychological fitness together.
Meditation involves focusing the mind on one object such as a sound, picture or feeling to achieve a state of awareness away from thoughts which then becomes a basis for insight and wisdom. As you concentrate more deeply, you begin to feel the need to concentrate better and better until finally all other thoughts disappear and you reach a state known as "mindfulness". This is considered the highest level of meditative practice because you are completely focused on the present moment with no trace of judgment or criticism.
In contrast, yoga requires the full engagement of the body and mind; it is not merely a matter of thinking about your body in order to make it healthier. In yoga, as in meditation, there is a focus on one thing at a time but instead of reaching a state of complete silence, you reach a state where you are fully aware of everything around you including your breath which is called "yogic awareness".
Karma yoga is the path of selfless activity in Hinduism, and it is one of the ways to spiritual freedom. It teaches that a spiritual seeker should operate in accordance with dharma without regard for the rewards or personal ramifications. According to the Bhagavad Gita, Karma Yoga cleanses the mind. It is the only way to achieve moksha or liberation.
In Buddhism, karma is the principle that determines an individual's future state of being. According to Buddhist teaching, all living beings are born with certain karmas that determine their future states of existence. These karmas are either positive or negative, depending on whether they lead to happiness or suffering, respectively. The idea of karma has been influential in many cultures including India, China, Japan, Tibet, and Cambodia. In addition to determining an individual's destiny, some Buddhists believe that karma can be transformed or removed.
In Jainism, karma is the principle of action and reaction (saṃskāra). One's past actions determine one's future fate. A person who has no desires will enjoy infinite peace and happiness. However, if someone wants something badly, they will suffer because of their attachment. In order to escape attachment, one needs to give up desire immediately.
Karma is not only relevant for individuals but also societies as a whole. If a society and its members do good deeds, they will experience prosperity and happiness.