Yoga is part of ancient Hindu philosophy. It has several different paths that lead to enlightenment or improvement of your body or repairing your soul. Yoga gives us peace of mind and even helps our soul transcend to a higher level. However different people respond differently to the various yogic paths available.
What is Jnana Yoga?
Jnana Yoga is also called Gyaana yoga. It is one of the four yogic paths spoken of in the Hindu scriptures. The Geeta speaks of its use to expand one’s knowledge of one’s own body and its powers. ‘Jnana’ in Sanskrit means knowledge. This yogic path is based on the Hindu principal of Nondualism. Its main principle is ‘Advaita Vedanta’. ‘Advaita’ means nondual and ‘Vedanta’ refers to the Vedic knowledge.Vashishtha, Adi Shankara, Ramana Maharshi and Nisargadatta Maharaj are the foremost teachers of Jnana yoga.
What is the definition of Jnana Yoga?
Jnana Yoga is one of the three classical types of Yoga and is termed as the “Yoga Of Meditation”. As per Advaita Vedanta. Jnana Yoga is defined as the “absolute consciousness awareness” that can be achieved through study and meditation.
Jnana Yoga Methods and Stages:
Jnana yoga is one of the direct routes to enlightenment or self-realization. It helps you identify what is truly going on with someone. It helps you segregate the truth from the lies. There are three main stages in this path.
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- The first stage is called Sravanam, which literally means listening. In this stage, the guru guides its students to the correct path. He/she teaches its disciples all the teachings that have been mentioned in the Vedas, while the students listen and assimilate all the teachings of their guru. The stories and analogies used by great gurus of this path have been recorded and retold several times!
- The second stage is called Mananam, which literally means contemplating or remunerating facts in your head. In this stage the student who has now learnt all he could from his/her guru, tries to reflect on these teachings. He observes, contemplates and then draws conclusions of his own.
- The third stage is called Nididhyasana, which literally means meditating. In this stage the student meditates and this leads to expansion into the Truth. The student meditates on the Brahman teachings of his guru and the reflections of his mind.
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How To Practice Jnana Yoga Meditation?
- Jnana yoga is not based on a particular dogma that the gurus teach and that you have to learn. It is a way of discovering the truth and understanding it for yourself. Jnana yoga says that truth requires consistency. For something that appears then disappears cannot be regarded as absolute. Consistency is what helps us differentiate between the truth and the illusions of Maya’.
- It is true that the ever-changing appearances have some truth hidden within them too! But Jnana yoga aims to discover the absolute truth only. To fulfil this goal, it constantly makes you question yourself. It asks you to not look at your experiences that are ever changing but to make note of your behavior that remains constant.
- You have to observe what is essential to all your experiences. What is the one connection between all of them? Most importantly, it makes you ask yourself, ‘Who am I?’
- To prepare himself/herself to receive the teachings of the Brahman, the jnana yoga disciple needs to first acquire the four means of salvation or the ‘Sadhana Chatushtaya’. These include ‘Viveka’ or the ability to distinguish between right and wrong, ‘Vairagya’ or indifference and detachment from all that is worldly, ‘Shad sampat’ or the six virtues of life and ‘Mumukshutva’ or a burning desire for liberation or moksha.
- ‘Shad Sampat’ or the six virtues of life includes peace of mind, control over the senses, renunciation of all activities for the sake of entertainment, endurance, faith and complete concentration or focus.
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Once a student has acquired these four means, he/she is ready to embark on the journey of Jnana yoga. Unlike the traditional yoga, which involves physical exercises, Jnana Yoga requires you to be physically and psychologically liberated from the mundane aspects of the world. The time period required for attainment of this enlightenment is not fixed. While some accomplished minds require only a few days, others take years to complete the course of this path to knowledge. The ultimate goal of Jnana Yoga is to attain a point in life where you can liberated from the illusion of self and are open to the perception of truth.