Compiled by Jayaram V
Generally speaking, the word 'jnana' means knowledge. In
Hinduism the word has many connotations. Knowledge is viewed by the Hindu
scriptures as both liberating and binding. Knowledge is viewed as the
means to achieve certain ends. It can used to fulfill our desires or
liberate ourselves. The knowledge that helps us realize our selfish
desires and perpetuate our limited identities is considered lower
knowledge. It is also termed as avidya or ignorance. The knowledge that
helps us overcome our egoistic attitude and desires and realize who we
are is considered as higher knowledge or the real knowledge. Real
knowledge liberates us from the three impurities of human existences,
namely egoism, desire ridden actions and the illusion that we are
different from the rest of the world and that the objective reality
which we experience through our senses is real and permanent.
Jnana yoga is therefore the pursuit of true knowledge
learning how to control our minds and senses and center
ourselves in our spiritual selves so that we can become free
from our bondage to the cycle of the births and achieve
liberation. The Bhagavadgita identifies jnana yoga as one of
the three paths to liberation, the path of knowledge, the path
of action and the path of devotion. While the path of devotion
is described as superior to the other two, jnana yoga is
suitable for people who are deeply intellectual.
Jnana yoga consists of
The second chapter of the Bhagavadgita is known as Jnana
Yoga or Samkhya yoga. According to some scholars it is a
summary of the Bhagavadgita itself since it contains all the
important concepts and ideas of the scripture. It reminds us
that we should not identify ourselves with our minds and
bodies as we are immortal, spiritual beings and that to
transcend our limited nature we have have to gain control over
our sense organs and our desires through detachment and
equanimity and work for our salvation by performing actions
for the sake of God. According to the Bhagavadgita, jnana yoga
consists of the following practices.
- Developing correct awareness of the mind, the body and the Atman or Self.
- Purification of the body and the mind through self-discipline (atma-samyamyoga)
- Acquiring true awareness of the world around and the SUPREME-Self beyond. (Knowledge of Sat (Truth) and Asat (Falsehood)
- Practicing various disciplines and other techniques as a means to self-purification and elevation and elimination of thought process.
The Bhagavad-Gita on Jnana Yoga
References to jnana yoga or the path of knowledge can be
found in the others chapters of the Bhagavadgita, which are
- The Yoga of Self-discipline (Chapter VI)
- The Yoga of Physics and Meta Physics. Chapter VII)
- The Yoga of Imperishable Brahman. Chapter VIII)
- The Yoga of Royal Knowledge. Chapter IX)
- The Yoga of Divine Manifestation. Chapter X )
- The Yoga of the Vision of Cosmic Form (Chapter XI)
- The Yoga of Kshetra and Kshetragna .(Chapter XIII)
- The Yoga of the Division of the Gunas (Chapter XIV)
- The Yoga of Divine and Undivine Qualities (Chapter XVI)
- Renunciation of Action with Knowledge. Chapter IV)
The True purpose and objectives
The purpose of jnana yoga is to achieve liberation by
realizing our true nature, overcoming our ignorance and
transcending our limited selves that are usually sense
dependent and bound by karma. According to the Bhagavadgita,
following are some of the developments that we experience when
we practice jnana yoga.
Equanimity of the mind (sthithadhi) through control of the senses and desires and mental discipline.
Knowledge through study of scriptures, contemplation, intuition, service to God and teachers, Divine Grace, discussion, teaching, observation and personal spiritual experience.