Jnana sounds like a familiar word, right? Yes, it means knowledge. But how is knowledge related to yoga?
Well, there is a lot more to yoga than you know. It is multi-faceted, and Jnana Yoga is one of its many profound concepts.
It helps you realize what is real and what is not. And, much more. To find out, you must read this article. All that you need to know about Jnana Yoga is right here.
What Is Jnana Yoga?
Jnana Yoga deals with wisdom, knowledge, and intellect. But not in the usual manner. It is not about the exterior use of it and is not measured in terms of how well you solve a problem or articulate your thoughts through your sharp intellect.
Instead, Jnana Yoga trains your mind for something more deep-rooted. It uses your mind as a tool for self-realization.
And for a reason, it is considered the most difficult among the other paths of yoga. Gaining knowledge is, in itself, difficult. Using it for self-realization should be even more challenging, right?
Jnana Yoga requires a strong will and intellect that will enable you to inquire into your nature and go beyond the mind’s thoughts and ego.
The process involves self-questioning, thinking, reflection, and awareness to see behind the illusion of your ideas and perceptions and unite with the ultimate reality and feel one with it.
History Of Jnana Yoga
Jnana Yoga goes a long way back. Yes, to the time of the Vedic age. It was one of the earliest systematized concepts of yoga.
It is discussed in the Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita. Early Upanishads speak about realizing that the self is one with the ultimate energy.
Bhagavad Gita mentions Jnana Yoga as a path to self-realization. It discusses the difficulty of the route because it has to deal with a formless reality that could be taxing and therefore only preferred by those who are intellectually oriented.
Even the great Advaita philosopher, Adi Shankara gave utmost importance to Jnana Yoga and extensively preached about it.
From its initial days to now, Jnana Yoga has come a long way, adapting to change in techniques, but has mostly remained the same.
Let’s now take a look at the method of practicing Jnana Yoga.
The Four Pillars of Knowledge
The Four Pillars Of Knowledge, otherwise called ‘Sadhana Chatushtaya’ are stepping stones towards achieving the goal of Jnana Yoga, which is liberation from your thoughts.
It is best to practice the four methods mentioned below in sequential order as one will lead you to the other.
Viveka is a process of consciously, deliberately, and continuously using your intellect to differentiate between the real and unreal, the permanent and the temporary, and the self and that which is not.
Next, comes Vairagya, where you detach yourself from worldly possessions and activities. You should be indifferent to that which is temporary.
You should place your ego aside and see things for what they are. Knowledge only dawns when you are free from all attachments.
Shad-Sampati consists of 6 methods that help stabilize your mind and emotions and train it to see beyond the illusion of the world.
First is Shama or keeping calm. It is a practice of being peaceful and reacting lesser and lesser to external stimuli.
Dama is keeping away from the influence of your senses and strengthening your mind.
Uparati is abandoning all that is not your duty. It is about keeping it simple with no unnecessary distractions.
Titiksha is to endure unfavorable situations and be tolerant of suffering and pain.
Shraddha is to believe and have faith in a teacher, the scriptures, and the yogic path.
Samadhana is focussing single-mindedly.
Mumukshutva is an intense passion for liberation from the chains of suffering. It is to commit yourself completely to the path of self-realization to the point that nothing else matters.
Now, let’s learn about the seven stages of wisdom that you will feel through the process of Jnana Yoga.
The Seven Stages Of Jnana
To feel one with the ultimate truth is not an easy task. Only when you cross over hurdles and challenges, will you get there. Let’s take a look at seven of them as prescribed by the Upanishads.
In this stage, the practitioner must yearn to find out the truth. And to do that, you must study various scriptures, learn under the guidance of a guru, and discuss with like-minded people. Travelling, observing, and mulling over profound experiences will pave your way to self-realization.
After gaining all the knowledge needed, the practitioner must question and inquire about it. He must delve into the nitty gritty of it and find out what it truly means. He must experiment his knowledge on himself and ponder over his existence, his past life, and the future by meditating.
All the study, perceiving, and meditation will clear the path for the practitioner, and he now knows what he has to do to attain oneness with the ultimate truth. At this stage, nothing should stop him. He should use his intellect to focus on his soul and go ahead without any worldly pleasures disturbing him.
In the process of deep focus, the mind becomes pure. Desire and dullness leave your thoughts, and you only see your path to realization with clarity. Illusion has no place in this stage. The mind only perceives the truth.
The absolute truth makes you detached and selfless. You turn inward and find pure bliss there. Your surroundings and actions don’t affect you anymore, and you move beyond the realm of the illusionary world.
6. Padartha Bhavana
When the illusions of maya collapse, you see reality. You see things for what they are and not what they tell you they are. Here, you are immersed in self and realize that the soul is the only real aspect and everything else is imaginary.
Here, you see yourself as one with the supreme energy. You realize the real state of self and find liberation in the fact that all are one with the supreme energy and not separate entities.
That’s that. Now, let’s look at some common queries regarding Jnana Yoga.
Expert’s Answers for Readers Questions
What is the importance of a guru in Jnana Yoga practice?
The guidance of a guru is necessary to initiate you into the process and guide you through it.
How often do I practice Jnana Yoga?
Jnana Yoga is a lifelong process. You must constantly keep track of your mind and intellect in a manner prescribed by Jnana Yoga. There shouldn’t be any deviation or break from it. It must become a part of your everyday life.
The process is profound and meditative. It is about unlearning all that you have learned and realizing the temporary and illusionary nature of maya. There is only one truth and self; everything else is mere imitation. And, you have the Jnana Yoga tool to realize that. Do you have it in you to give it a shot?
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