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Jnana or gnana or gnaan (Sanskrit; Pali: jñāna) is a Sanskrit word that means knowledge. It has various nuances of meaning depending on the context, and is used in a number of different Indian religions. The idea of jnana centers around a cognitive event which is recognized when experienced. It is knowledge inseparable from the total experience of reality, especially a total reality, or supreme being within Mahesha-dhama (and/or material world) such as Siva-Sakti. Absence of jnana (knowledge, gnosticism) is known as ajnana (see: agnosticism): Famous mantra in this relationship says: "Om ajnana timirandhasya..." (I was born in ajnana, agnosticism, but my spiritual master opened my eyes with fire of transcendental knowledge, jnana).
In Buddhist philosophy
In Tibetan Buddhism, it refers to pure awareness that is free of conceptual encumbrances, and is contrasted with vijnana, which is a moment of 'divided knowing'. Entrance to, and progression through the ten stages of Jnana/Bhimis, will lead one to complete enlightenment and nibbana.
In the Vipassanā tradition of Buddhism there are the following ñanas according to Mahasi Sayadaw. As a person meditates these ñanas or "knowledges" will be experienced in order. The experience of each may be brief or may last for years and the subjective intensity of each is variable. Each ñana could also be considered a jhāna although many are not stable and the mind has no way to remain embedded in the experience. Experiencing all the ñanas will lead to the first of the Four stages of enlightenment then the cycle will start over at a subtler level.
- Analytical Knowledge of Body and Mind (nama-rupa-pariccheda-ñana) (corresponds to 1st jhana)
- Knowledge by Discerning Conditionality (paccaya-pariggaha-ñana)
- Knowledge by Comprehension (sammasana-ñana)
- Knowledge of Arising and Passing Away (udayabbaya-ñana) (corresponds to 2nd jhana)
- Knowledge of Dissolution (bhanga-ñana) (corresponds to 3rd jhana)
- Awareness of Fearfulness (bhayatupatthana-ñana)
- Knowledge of Misery (adinava-ñana)
- Knowledge of Disgust (nibbida-ñana)
- Knowledge of Desire for Deliverance (muncitu-kamyata-ñana)
- Knowledge of Re-observation (patisankhanupassana-ñana)
- Knowledge of Equanimity about Formations (sankhar'upekkha-ñana) (corresponds to 4th jhana)
- Insight Leading to emergence (vutthanagamini-vipassana-ñana)
- Knowledge of Adaptation (anuloma-ñana) (one-time event)
- Maturity Knowledge (gotrabhu-ñana) (one-time event)
- Path Knowledge (magga-ñana) (one-time event)
- Fruition Knowledge (phala-ñana) (corresponds to Nibbāna)
- Knowledge of Reviewing (paccavekkhana-ñana)
In Vedic philosophy
In Vedas it means true knowledge, that one's (jiva's) self, or he himself as soul (atman) is identical (in quality sense) with Ultimate Reality Brahman (Shiva). It is also referred to as Atma Jnana which is frequently translated as self-realization. Jnana is very closely related to knowledge of Brahman. Real knowledge is that which leads to knowledge of Brahman (and all His gradations like Paramatma and Bhagavan), and false or speculative (material, atheistic) knowledge is one that diverts one from such transcendental knowledge of Brahman, Paramatma and Bhagavan.
Prajnanam iti Brahman - wisdom is the soul/spirit. Prajnanam refers to the intuitive truth which can be verified/tested by reason. It is a higher function of the intellect that ascertains the Sat or Truth in the Sat-Chit-Ananda or truth-consciousness-bliss, i.e. the Brahman/Atman/Self/person [...] A truly wise person [...] is known as Prajna - who has attained Brahmanhood itself; thus, testifying to the Vedic Maha Vakya (great saying or words of wisdom): Prajnanam iti Brahman.
And according to David Loy,
The knowledge of Brahman [...] is not intuition of Brahman but itself is Brahman.
Jnana yoga (Yoga of Knowledge) is one of the three main paths (margas), which are supposed to lead towards moksha (liberation) from material miseries. The other two main paths are Karma yoga and Bhakti Yoga. Rāja yoga (classical yoga) which includes several yogas, is also said to lead to moksha. It is said that each path is meant for a different temperament of personality.
- "jnana (Indian religion) - Britannica Online Encyclopedia". Britannica.com. Retrieved 2012-05-15.
- "The tantra: its origin, theories, art, and diffusion from India to Nepal, Tibet, Mongolia, China, Japan, and Indonesia" by Victor M. Fic, available online at books.google.com here, http://books.google.com/books?id=g5DxR29F-iYC&dq=tantra&source=gbs_navlinks_s
- Gampopa's "Jewel Ornament of Liberation", especially the ten bhumis, where the absorption state or non-dual state, which characterizes all ten bhumis, in this well-respected traditional text, is equated to the state of jnana
- The Progress of Insight: (Visuddhiñana-katha), by The Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw, translated from the Pali with Notes by Nyanaponika Thera (1994; 33pp./99KB)
- Sahu 2004, p. 41.
- Loy 1997, p. 62.
- Helena Petrona Blavatsky (1893 - 1897), The Secret Doctrine, London Theosophical Pub. House, 1893-97, ISBN 0-900588-74-8
- Anna Dallapiccola, Dictionary of Hindu Lore and Legend (ISBN 0-500-51088-1)
- Loy, David (1997), Nonduality. A Study in Comparative Philosophy, Humanity Books
- Sahu, Bhagirathi (2004), The New Educational Philosophy, Sarup & Sons