Yoga was originally a mental exercise to learn techniques and methods to use the mind to reduce suffering and find and create greater contentment, joy, and peace. Yoga became more diverse as it was refined, studied, and developed. Yoga evolved into four paths: Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Raja Yoga, and Jnana Yoga. Jnana, or wisdom (or knowledge), is the hardest of the four paths of Yoga. It requires great willpower and intellect.
What is Jnana Yoga
Jnana means “knowledge” or “wisdom,” Jnana Yoga aims to help you discover the nature of reality by practicing self-inquiry and contemplation. Jnana Yoga is defined as “awareness” of absolute consciousness and a practice of self-study.
Jnana Yoga uses the mind to explore its nature and transcend its identification with thoughts and the ego. Jnana Yoga’s fundamental goal is to liberate from the illusionary world of maya, which includes self-limiting thoughts and perceptions. It also aims to unite the inner Self (Atman) with the Oneness of All Life (Brahman). The Four Pillars of Knowledge define mental self-questioning, reflection, and conscious illumination techniques. Jnana Yoga uses a focused meditation on one question to reveal the illusions created by your worldviews, concepts, and perceptions. This practice helps you realize that maya is an illusion and allows you to see everything as one.
It is the most difficult of all sciences.”/em> – Swami Sivananda It is the hardest of all sciences .”- Swami Sivananda
Prerequisites for Jnana Yoga
The Four Pillars of Knowledge are the steps to liberation through Jnana Yoga. These practices are interconnected and should be performed in order. These techniques can be practiced even if the ultimate goal is not liberation. They will help cultivate spiritual understanding and insight and reduce suffering and unhappiness in life.
Viveka is a continuous, deliberate intellectual effort to differentiate between the Real and Unreal, the Permanent and Temporary, and the Self and Not-Self.
Vairagya is the cultivation of non-attachment or indifference towards temporal objects such as worldly possessions and ego-mind. Swami Sivananda: “True knowledge can only dawn when the mind has been completely freed from attachments of any kind.”
The six virtues (shatsampat) are mental practices that help to develop the ability to transcend the illusions of Maya and stabilize the mind.
* The ability to maintain calmness and tranquility by moderating the brain’s reaction to external stimuli. – Dama is a way to train the mind to resist the influence of the senses.
Uparati is the abandonment or withdrawal of all activities not part of one’s dharma. The spiritual path is pursued by a simple lifestyle that does not include worldly distractions.
* Titiksha is the ability to tolerate situations that would normally cause suffering (such as success and failure, heat and cold, pain and pleasure).
* Shraddha is the feeling of confidence and trusts in the yogic path, the scriptures, and one’s teacher.
* Samadhana is a complete concentration of the mind.
Mumukshutva is a passionate and intense desire to be freed from suffering. To achieve liberation, one must have a total commitment to the path and a longing so intense that all other desires are pushed aside.
How to practice Jnana Yoga
The intellectual approach to jnana can be challenging to understand. Since one can easily emphasize intellectual attainment, it is important to cultivate compassion and humility on this path. It’s easy to get caught up in the thoughts and constructs of the mind and lose sight of jnana, the goal of realizing the divine oneness inherent in every being.
As a prerequisite, it is suggested that you practice Hatha Yoga, Karma Yoga, and Bhakti Yoga. These yogic exercises will help prepare the mind, body, and heart to handle the rigorous nature of Jnana Yoga.
After you’ve made some progress in other forms of Yoga, start practicing the four pillars. It is not necessary to master one pillar to move on to the next. However, you should resist the urge to advance before you’re ready. It is a practice that no one with a history of mental illness should attempt. You should work with a qualified guru or teacher to accurately assess your development, provide individual instruction, and guide your progress.
Three Jnana Yoga practices
The Three Core Practices of Jnana Yoga are only available after you have studied and practiced the Four Pillars successfully. These Upanishadic Teachings include sravana, or “hearing,” as well as manana, or “reflection,” nididhyasana, or “meditation.” They lead to Atma Sakshatkara or direct realization.
Sravana refers to the experience of sacred knowledge contained in ancient Vedic texts. A teacher or guru guides the Yogi in discussions about the philosophy of non-dualism. The student will read the Upanishads to better understand Atman, Brahman, and non-dualism.
Manana refers to the process of thinking and reflecting on these non-duality teachings. The student will be expected to spend much time thinking about and contemplating the different ideas of svadhyaya and sravana.
Nididhyasana refers to the continuous and profound meditation of the inner self. This is the reflection and meditation on the true meaning of the Maha Vakyas – the primary mantras of the Upanishads. A Yogi can achieve the union of knowing and doing, thought and action, by focusing on these seeds.
Great teachings of the Upanishads
The Sanskrit term “Maha,” which can be translated to mean great or powerful, is also used as a word for a sentence or a saying. The Maha-Vakyas, the most powerful and revered sayings from the ancient Indian scriptures Upanishads, are considered the most important. Regular meditation and contemplation of the Maha Vakyas can purify our minds and promote introspection, insight, and transcendental states.
The four Maha-Vakyas are similar, but their contemplation of them leads to the same conclusion. These four aphorisms present different perspectives on the oneness that is indivisible in all things. These four aphorisms provide answers to Jnana Yoga’s classic questions. “Who am I?” What is my purpose?” Meditation on the Maha Vakyas can answer questions such as “What is this reality?”
The Four Maha-Vakyas
The supreme consciousness is Prajnanam Brahma Brahman (Ultimate Truth).
Aham Brahmasmi – I am Brahman
You are that, Tat Tvam.
Ayam Atma Brahma – Atman (true self) is Brahman.