Jnana yoga

Bhagavad Gita, a 19th century manuscript. Nort...
Bhagavad Gita, a 19th century manuscript. North India via Wikipedia

In Hinduism, jnana yoga [Sanskrit jnana: the path of spiritual knowledge] is the yoga of knowledge. But this isn’t just bookish, conceptual or intellectual knowledge. Instead, the goal of jnana yoga is to know the true self and, for believers in this path, its identity with the Godhead.

Not to say that Jnana yoga never involves erudition, or intellectual and conceptual knowledge. It certainly can. But these are seen as tools to achieve illumination instead of ends in themselves.

The dharma (sacred duty) of jnana yoga is about overcoming ignorance [Sanskrit: avidya] and clearing the path for true spiritual knowledge. And for believers, this kind of knowledge is nothing less than realizing that this changing world (and all the desires that go with it) are illusory. It also means realizing that the personal ego is not the true self.

When the aspirant reaches this stage of awareness, he or she may be confused and even wonder if they’ve gone insane (as did Sri Ramakrishna on occasion). But a healthy transition means that the seeker eventually understands that the atman and brahman are one and the same.

Diagrammatic representation of absolute and manifestation in Jnana Yoga by Swami Vivekananda - Nvineeth via Wikipedia

In the Bhagavad Gita, the Hindu deity Krishna says that jnana yoga is the most difficult of the four central yogas, but also the path dearest to him.

Traditionally associated with the Brahmin caste, the meaning of jnana-yoga would be closer to wisdom instead of erudition. But prominent figures like Sri Aurobindo and Swami Ramacharaka are both quite learned and (allegedly) illuminated.

Related Posts » Bhakti yoga, Hatha yoga, Karma yoga, Raja yoga, Yoga


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