Jñāna yoga, also known as Jnanamarga, is one of the several spiritual paths in Hinduism that emphasizes the "path of knowledge", also known as the "path of self-realization". It is one of the three classical paths (margas) for moksha (salvation, liberation). The other two are karma yoga (path of action, karmamarga) and bhakti yoga (path of loving devotion to a personal god, bhaktimarga). Later, new movements within Hinduism added raja yoga as a fourth spiritual path, but it is not universally accepted as distinct from the other three.
|Part of a series on|
The jnana yoga is a spiritual practice that pursues knowledge with questions such as "who am I, what am I" among others. The practitioner studies usually with the aid of a counsellor (guru), meditates, reflects, and reaches liberating insights on the nature of his own Self (Atman, soul) and its relationship to the metaphysical concept called Brahman in Hinduism. The jnanamarga ideas are discussed in ancient and medieval era Hindu scriptures and texts such as the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita.
Jnana is knowledge,which refers to any cognitive event that is correct and true over time. It particularly refers to knowledge inseparable from the total experience of its object, especially about reality (non-theistic schools) or supreme being (theistic schools). In Hinduism, it is knowledge which gives Moksha, or spiritual liberation while alive (jivanmukti) or after death (videhamukti). According to Bimal Matilal, jnana yoga in Advaita Vedanta connotes both primary and secondary sense of its meaning, that is "self-consciousness, awareness" in the absolute sense and relative "intellectual understanding" respectively.
According to Jones and Ryan, jnana in jnana yoga context is better understood as "realization or gnosis", referring to a "path of study" wherein one knows the unity between self and ultimate reality called Brahman in Hinduism. This explanation is found in the ancient Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita.
Jñāna yoga is the path towards attaining jnana. It is one of the three classical types of yoga mentioned in Hindu philosophies, the other two being karma yoga and bhakti. In modern classifications, classical yoga, being called Raja yoga, is mentioned as a fourth one, an extension introduced by Vivekananda. Jnana yoga, states Stephen Phillips, is the "yoga of meditation".
Of the three different paths to liberation, jnana marga and karma marga are the more ancient, traceable to Vedic era literature. All three paths are available to any Hindu, chosen based on inclination, aptitude and personal preference, and typically elements of all three to varying degrees are practiced by many Hindus.
Classical yoga emphasizes the practice of dhyana (meditation), and this is a part of all three classical paths in Hinduism, including jñāna yoga. The path of knowledge is intended for those who prefer philosophical reflection and it requires study and meditation.
In the Upanishads, 'jnana yoga aims at the realization of the oneness of the individual self (Atman) and the ultimate Self (Brahman). These teachings are found in the early Upanishads. According to Chambliss, the mystical teachings within these Upanishads discuss "the way of knowledge of the Self", a union, the realization that the Self (Atman) and the Brahman are logical.
The teachings in the Upanishads have been interpreted in a number of ways, ranging from non-theistic monism to theistic dualism. In former, rituals are not necessary and a path of introspection and meditation is emphasized for the correct knowledge (jnana) of self. In latter, it is the full and correct knowledge of a Vishnu avatar or Shiva or Shakti (Goddess) that is emphasized. In all its various interpretations, the paths are not necessarily mutually exclusive. A Jnana yogi may also practice Karma yoga or Bhakti yoga or both, and differing levels of emphasis.
In the Bhagavad Gita, jnana yoga is also referred to as buddhi yoga and its goal is self-realization. The text considers jnana marga as the most difficult, slow, confusing for those who prefer it because it deals with "formless reality", the avyakta. It is the path that intellectually oriented people tend to prefer.
The chapter 4 of the Bhagavad Gita is dedicated to the general exposition of jnana yoga, while chapters 7 and 16 discuss its theological and axiological aspects. Krishna says that jñāna is the purest, and a discovery of one's Atman:
Truly, there is nothing here as pure as knowledge. In time, he who is perfected in yoga finds that in his own Atman.
The Advaita philosopher Adi Shankara gave primary importance to jñāna yoga for the "knowledge of the absolute" (Brahman), while the Vishishtadvaita commentator Ramanujar regarded knowledge only as a condition of devotion.
Classical Advaita Vedanta
Classical Advaita Vedanta emphasises the path of Jnana Yoga to attain moksha. It consists of fourfold attitudes, or behavioral qualifications:
- Discrimination (Nityānitya vastu viveka (नित्यानित्य वस्तु विवेकम्), or simply viveka) — The ability to correctly discriminate (viveka) between the unchanging, permanent, eternal (nitya) and the changing, transitory, temporary (anitya).
- Dispassion of fruits (Ihāmutrārtha phala bhoga virāga (इहाऽमुत्रार्थ फल भोगविरागम्), or simply viraga) — The dispassionate indifference (virāga) to the fruits, to enjoyments of objects (artha phala bhoga) or to the other worlds (amutra) after rebirth.
- Six virtues (Śamādi ṣatka sampatti (शमादि षट्क सम्पत्ति), or simply satsampat) —
- Drive, longing (Mumukṣutva (मुमुक्षुत्वम्)) — intense yearning for moksha from the state of ignorance
Jnanayoga for Advaitins consists of three practices: sravana (hearing), manana (thinking) and nididhyasana (meditation). This three-step methodology is rooted in the teachings of chapter 4 of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad:
- Sravana literally means hearing, and broadly refers to perception and observations typically aided by a counsellor or teacher (guru), wherein the Advaitin listens and discusses the ideas, concepts, questions and answers.
- Manana refers to thinking on these discussions and contemplating over the various ideas based on svadhyaya and sravana.
- Nididhyāsana refers to meditation, realization and consequent conviction of the truths, non-duality and a state where there is a fusion of thought and action, knowing and being.
These practices, with the help of a guru are believed to lead to correct knowledge, which destroys avidya, psychological and perceptual errors related to Atman and Brahman.
Both the theistic and monistic streams of Shaivism include jnana yoga ideas, along with those related to karma yoga, and in the case of Saiva Siddhanta ideas related to bhakti yoga. The Shaivism traditions do not consider renunciation necessary for practicing jnana yoga, leaving ascetic yogi lifestyle optional. Spirituality can be pursued along with active life (karma), according to Shaiva traditions, and it believes that this does not hinder ones ability to journey towards self (Shiva within) realization. The traditions dwell into this integration of karma yoga with jnana yoga, such as by ranking daily behavior and activity that is done by choice and when not necessary as higher in spiritual terms than activity that is impulsive or forced.
The methodology of sravana, manana and nididhyasana similar to Advaita Vedanta are also found in various traditions of Shaivism. However, nistha or samadhi is sometimes added in Shaiva methodology. The meditational aspects of Shaivism focus on the nirguna form of Supreme Reality (Shiva).
The Pancharatra (agama) texts of Vaishnavism, along with its Bhagavata (Krishna, Rama, Vishnu) tradition, are strongly influenced by jnana yoga ideas of the Upanishads. However, Vaishnavism also incorporates Bhakti yoga concepts of loving devotion to the divine Supreme personally selected by the devotee, in saguna form, both in silent meditational and musical expressive styles.
The aim of jnana yoga in Vaishnavism differs from that in other schools. Advaita, for example, considers jnana yoga as the path to nondual self-knowledge and moksha. Vaishnavism, in contrast, considers it a condition of devotion.
The Shaktism literature on goddess such as Kularnava Tantra highlight jnana marga as important to liberation. It differentiates between two kings of jnana: one it calls knowledge that comes from Agama texts, and another it calls viveka (insight). The Shaktism literature then adds that both lead to the knowledge of Brahman, but the first one is in the form of sound (shabdabrahman), while the insight from within is the ultimate truth (parabrahman).
Some Shakta texts, such as the Sita Upanishad, combine yoga of action and knowledge as a path to liberation. The Devi Gita, a classic text of Shaktism, dedicates chapter 4 to Jnana yoga, stating that a Jnana yogi understands and realizes that there is no difference between the individual soul and herself as the supreme Self. The discussion of Jnana yoga continues through the later chapters of the Devi Gita.
- See for example H. W. L. Poonja, who regarded knowledge alone to be enough for liberation.
- Example self-restraints mentioned in Hindu texts: one must refrain from any violence that causes injury to others, refrain from starting or propagating deceit and falsehood, refrain from theft of other's property, refrain from sexually cheating on one's partner, and refrain from avarice.
- nivartitānāmeteṣāṁ tadvyatiriktaviṣayebhya uparamaṇamuparatirathavā vihitānāṁ karmaṇāṁ vidhinā parityāgaḥ[Vedāntasāra, 21]
- Flood 1996, p. 127.
- James G. Lochtefeld (2002). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism: A-M. The Rosen Publishing Group. pp. 321, 93–94. ISBN 978-0-8239-3179-8.
- P. T. Raju (1985). Structural Depths of Indian Thought. State University of New York Press. pp. 7–8. ISBN 978-0-88706-139-4.
- Jeaneane D. Fowler (2012). The Bhagavad Gita: A Text and Commentary for Students. Sussex Academic Press. pp. 89–93. ISBN 978-1-84519-346-1.
- Matilal 2005, p. 4928.
- Klaus K. Klostermaier (2007). A Survey of Hinduism: Third Edition. State University of New York Press. pp. 119–120. ISBN 978-0-7914-7082-4.
- Roderick Hindery (1978). Comparative Ethics in Hindu and Buddhist Traditions. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 26–27. ISBN 978-81-208-0866-9.
- George D. Chryssides (2012). Historical Dictionary of New Religious Movements. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 285. ISBN 978-0-8108-6194-7.
- Richard Dewey Mann (1984). The Light of Consciousness: Explorations in Transpersonal Psychology. State University of New York Press. pp. 21–25. ISBN 978-0-87395-905-6.
- [a] Ravi Dykema (2011). Yoga for Fitness and Wellness. Cengage. pp. 10–11. ISBN 0-8400-4811-4.;
[b] Orlando O. Espín; James B. Nickoloff (2007). An Introductory Dictionary of Theology and Religious Studies. Liturgical Press. p. 676. ISBN 978-0-8146-5856-7.;
[c] John M. Rector (2014). The Objectification Spectrum. Oxford University Press. pp. 198–201. ISBN 978-0-19-935542-6.
- Stephen Phillips (2009). Yoga, Karma, and Rebirth: A Brief History and Philosophy. Columbia University Press. pp. 178–182. ISBN 978-0-231-14485-8.
- Jean Varenne (1989). Yoga and the Hindu Tradition. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 234. ISBN 978-81-208-0543-9.
- Roy W. Perrett (2012). Indian Philosophy of Religion. Springer Science. pp. 44–51. ISBN 978-94-009-2458-1.
- Apte 1965, p. 457.
- "jnana (Indian religion) - Britannica Online Encyclopedia". Britannica.com. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
- Jones & Ryan 2006, pp. 2, 215.
- Michelis 2005.
- Stephen Phillips (2009). Yoga, Karma, and Rebirth: A Brief History and Philosophy. Columbia University Press. p. 258. ISBN 978-0-231-14485-8.
- Jeaneane D. Fowler (2002). Perspectives of Reality: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Hinduism. Sussex Academic Press. p. 48. ISBN 978-1-898723-93-6.
- Jeaneane D. Fowler (2002). Perspectives of Reality: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Hinduism. Sussex Academic Press. pp. 371–373. ISBN 978-1-898723-93-6.
- M. V. Nadkarni (2016). The Bhagavad-Gita for the Modern Reader: History, interpretations and philosophy. Taylor & Francis. pp. 45–46. ISBN 978-1-315-43898-6.
- Jeaneane D. Fowler (2012). The Bhagavad Gita: A Text and Commentary for Students. Sussex Academic Press. pp. xxviii, xl–xliv. ISBN 978-1-84519-346-1.
- Jones & Ryan 2006, p. 73.
- Jeaneane D. Fowler (2002). Perspectives of Reality: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Hinduism. Sussex Academic Press. pp. 334–335, 371–373. ISBN 978-1-898723-93-6.
- Yuvraj Krishan (1997). The Doctrine of Karma: Its Origin and Development in Brāhmaṇical, Buddhist, and Jaina Traditions. Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. pp. 112–114. ISBN 978-81-208-1233-8.
- Jones & Ryan 2006, p. 511.
- J.J. Chambliss (2013). Philosophy of Education: An Encyclopedia. Routledge. p. 271. ISBN 978-1-136-51168-4.
- W. Horosz; Tad Clements (2012). Religion and Human Purpose: A Cross Disciplinary Approach. Springer Science. pp. 257–258. ISBN 978-94-009-3483-2.
- Robert W. Roeser (2005), An introduction to Hindu Indiaís contemplative psychological perspectives on motivation, self, and development, in M.L. Maehr & S. Karabenick (Eds.), Advances in Motivation and Achievement, Volume 14: Religion and Motivation, Amsterdam: Elsevier, ISBN 978-07623-12-597, pp 305-308
- M. V. Nadkarni (2016). The Bhagavad-Gita for the Modern Reader: History, interpretations and philosophy. Taylor & Francis. p. 266. ISBN 978-1-315-43898-6.
- Eknath Easwaran (2011). Essence of the Bhagavad Gita: A Contemporary Guide to Yoga, Meditation, and Indian Philosophy. Nilgiri Press. pp. 118, 281. ISBN 978-1-58638-068-7.
- Jeaneane D. Fowler (2012). The Bhagavad Gita: A Text and Commentary for Students. Sussex Academic Press. pp. 72–90. ISBN 978-1-84519-346-1.
- Winthrop Sargeant (2009). Christopher Key Chapple (ed.). The Bhagavad Gita: Twenty-fifth–Anniversary Edition. State University of New York Press. pp. xiii–xvii, xxviii–xxix, 223–241, 610–612. ISBN 978-1-4384-2842-0.
- Catherine A. Robinson (2014). Interpretations of the Bhagavad-Gita and Images of the Hindu Tradition: The Song of the Lord. Taylor & Francis. pp. 50–57, 117–119. ISBN 978-1-134-27891-6.
- Jeaneane D. Fowler (2012). The Bhagavad Gita: A Text and Commentary for Students. Sussex Academic Press. p. 89. ISBN 978-1-84519-346-1.
- Maharaj, A (2014). "Śrī Harṣa contra Hegel: Monism, Skeptical Method, and the Limits of Reason". Philosophy East and West. Johns Hopkins University Press. 64 (1): 88, context: pp. 82–108. doi:10.1353/pew.2014.0010.
- Puligandla 1997, p. 251-254.
- Leesa S. Davis (2010). Advaita Vedanta and Zen Buddhism: Deconstructive Modes of Spiritual Inquiry. Bloomsbury Academic. pp. 38–39. ISBN 978-0-8264-2068-8.
- Heim, M. (2005), Differentiations in Hindu ethics, in William Schweiker (Editor), The Blackwell companion to religious ethics, ISBN 0-631-21634-0, Chapter 35, pp 341-354
- James Lochtefeld, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Rosen Publishing New York, ISBN 0-8239-2287-1, page 777
- Rao, G. H. (1926), The Basis of Hindu Ethics, International Journal of Ethics, 37(1), pp 19-35
- Mayeda 1992, p. xvii.
- K. Ramakrishna Rao; Anand C. Paranjpe (2015). Psychology in the Indian Tradition. Springer. pp. 6–7, 177–178, 215. ISBN 978-81-322-2440-2.
- John A. Grimes (1996). A Concise Dictionary of Indian Philosophy. State University of New York Press. pp. 98–99. ISBN 978-0-7914-3067-5.
- Deutsch 1973, pp. 106-110.
- Robert P. Waxler; Maureen P. Hall (2011). Transforming Literacy: Changing Lives Through Reading and Writing. Emerald. pp. 105–106. ISBN 978-0-85724-628-8.
- Dalal 2009, p. 16.
- Śaṅkarācārya; Sengaku Mayeda (2006). A Thousand Teachings: The Upadeśasāhasrī of Śaṅkara. SUNY Press. pp. 78–79. ISBN 978-8120827714.
- K. Sivaraman (1973). Śaivism in Philosophical Perspective: A Study of the Formative Concepts, Problems, and Methods of Śaiva Siddhānta. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 371, 392–397. ISBN 978-81-208-1771-5.
- K. Sivaraman (1973). Śaivism in Philosophical Perspective: A Study of the Formative Concepts, Problems, and Methods of Śaiva Siddhānta. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 384, 388–391. ISBN 978-81-208-1771-5.
- Karine Schomer; W. H. McLeod (1987). The Sants: Studies in a Devotional Tradition of India. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 57, 42–43, 140–141. ISBN 978-81-208-0277-3.
- Gavin D. Flood (1996). An Introduction to Hinduism. Cambridge University Press. p. 127. ISBN 978-0-521-43878-0.
- June McDaniel (2004). Offering Flowers, Feeding Skulls: Popular Goddess Worship in West Bengal. Oxford University Press. pp. 98–99. ISBN 978-0-19-534713-5.
- Cheever Mackenzie Brown (1998). The Devi Gita: The Song of the Goddess: A Translation, Annotation, and Commentary. State University of New York Press. pp. 161–162, for full context and translations: 150–163. ISBN 978-0-7914-3939-5.
- C. Mackenzie Brown (2012). Song of the Goddess. State University of New York Press. pp. 18–23. ISBN 978-0-7914-8851-5.
- Printed sources
- Apte, Vaman Shivram (1965), The Practical Sanskrit Dictionary, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, ISBN 81-208-0567-4 (Fourth revised and enlarged edition).
- Basu, Asoke (June 2004). "Advaita Vedanta and Ethics". Religion East and West (4): 91–105.
- Dalal, Neil (2009). "Contemplative Practice and Textual Agency in Advaita Vedanta". Method and Theory in the Study of Religion. 21: 15–27.
- Deutsch, Eliot (1973), Advaita Vedanta: A Philosophical Reconstruction, University of Hawaii Press, ISBN 978-0-8248-0271-4
- Feuerstein, Georg (2001). The Yoga Tradition: Its History, Literature, Philosophy and Practice. Prescott, Arizona: Hohm Press. ISBN 1-890772-18-6. (Unabridged, New Format Edition).
- Flood, Gavin (1996), An Introduction to Hinduism, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-43878-0
- Jones, Constance; Ryan, James D., eds. (2006), Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Infobase Publishing
- Mayeda, Sengaku (1992), "An Introduction to the Life and Thought of Sankara", in Mayeda, Sengaku (ed.), A Thousand Teachings: The Upadeśasāhasrī of Śaṅkara, State University of New York City Press, ISBN 0-7914-0944-9
- Matilal, Bimal Krishna (2005), "Jnana", in Jones, Lindsay (ed.), MacMillan Encyclopedia of Religions, MacMillan
- Michelis, Elizabeth De (2005), A History of Modern Yoga, Continuum
- Puligandla, Ramakrishna (1985). Jñâna-Yoga--The Way of Knowledge (An Analytical Interpretation). New York: University Press of America. ISBN 0-8191-4531-9.
- Puligandla, Ramakrishna (1997), Fundamentals of Indian Philosophy, New Delhi: D.K. Printworld (P) Ltd.
- Varenne, Jean; Derek Coltman (1976). Yoga and the Hindu Tradition. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-85114-1.