Jnâna Yoga

Jnâna Yoga is the Yoga which makes use of the rational power, through the intellect, to cleave through illusion, cleave through the illusion of appearances and which takes you to the Reality which is hidden beyond appearances; and thus it is a way of utilising the power of investigation, observance, enquiry and analysis.


Jnana is knowledge. Ajnana is ignorance. To identify oneself with the illusory vehicles of body, mind, Prana and the senses is Ajnana. To say, " I am the doer, the enjoyer, I am a Brahmin, a Brahmachari, this is mine, he is my son," is Ajnana. Jnana alone can destroy Ajnana, even as light alone can remove darkness.

In this, the power of the intellect, reasoning becomes the means of liberating yourself from the grip of illusion which is merely the result of non-discrimination or the result of failure to enquire, and making proper enquiry regarding the nature of things which we observe and perceive. Blindly, without enquiring we take them for granted and get involved in them. This path evokes in the seeker the active power of enquiry, Vichara, and out of this philosophical enquiry, right discrimination dawns. Suddenly, you begin to see that things are not just things. They are classified. Something is Eternal and others are non-eternal. So, you begin to discriminate, which is the Permanent and which is impermanent, appearance and the Reality, Eternal and the non-eternal, the Self and non-self.

Brahman, the Supreme Self, is neither the doer of actions nor the enjoyer of the fruits of actions. The creation, preservation and destruction of the world are not due to Him. They are due to the action of Maya, the Lord's energy manifesting itself as the world-process.

Just as space appears to be of three kinds - absolute space, space limited by a jar, and space reflected in the water of a jar, - so also there are three kinds of intelligence. They are absolute intelligence, intelligence reflected in Maya, and intelligence reflected in the Jiva (the individual soul). The notion of the doer is the function of intelligence as reflected in the intellect. This, together with the notion of Jiva, is superimposed by the ignorant on the pure and limitless Brahman, the silent witness.

The illustration of space absolute, space limited by a jar and space reflected in water of a jar, is given to convey the idea that in reality Brahman alone is. Because of Maya, however, It appears as three.

The notion that the reflection of intelligence is real, is erroneous, and is due to ignorance. Brahman is without limitation; limitation is a superimposition on Brahman.

The identity of the Supreme Self and the Jiva or reflected self is established through the statement of the Upanishad Tat Tvam Asi - 'That Thou Art'. When the knowledge of the identity of the two arises, then world problems and ignorance, with all their offshoots, are destroyed and all doubts disappear.

Self-realization or direct intuitive perception of the Supreme Self is necessary for attaining freedom and perfection. This Jnana Yoga or the path of Wisdom is, however, not meant for the masses whose hearts are not pure enough and whose intellects are not sharp enough to understand and practice this razor-edge path. Hence, Karma Yoga and Upasana (Bhakti) are to be practiced first, which will render the heart pure and make it fit for the reception of Knowledge.




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