Jnana yoga

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For the book by Swami Vivekananda, see Jnana Yoga (book).
Adi Shankara with Disciples, by Raja Ravi Varma (1904), propounding knowledge of absolute as of primary importance

Jñāna yoga /ˌɑːn ˈjɡə/ (Devanāgarī: ज्ञान योग) or "union due to pure knowledge"[1] is one of the types of yoga mentioned in Hindu philosophies. Jñāna in Sanskrit means "knowledge".[2]

Jnana-yoga understanding[edit]

Jñāna yoga is knowing beyond name and form through pure understanding of the nature of doer, who when seen in clarity results in liberation. This path is different from other forms of Yoga in a sense that other form emphasizes on a structured way of experiencing reality through a process of crystallization carried by doing different forms of meditation. However this path simply states that only knowing is enough. It many a times draw parallels to Samkhya as well. As used in the Bhagavad Gita, the Advaita philosopher Adi Shankara gave primary importance to jñāna yoga as "knowledge of the absolute" (Brahman), while the Vishishtadvaita commentator Ramanuja regarded knowledge only as a condition of devotion.[3] In the Bhagavad Gita (13.3) Krishna says that jñāna consists of properly understanding kshetra (the field of activity—that is, the body) and kshetrajna (the knower of the body—that is, the soul). Later in the Gita (13.35) Krishna emphasizes that a transcendentalist must understand the difference between these two.[4]

Fourfold discipline[edit]

Classical Advaita Vedanta uses the "fourfold discipline" (sādhana-catustaya)[5] to train students and attain moksha. It consists of four stages:[6][7]

  • Samanyasa, cultivating oneself the following qualities:[6][8]
    • Vivek, the capacity to discern between the real and the unreal. This was an important concept in texts older even than the Bhagavad Gita, and often invoked the image of a Swan, which was said to be able to separate milk (or Soma) from water, whilst drinking.[citation needed]
    • Vairagya, dispassion, detachment, indifference to pleasure and pain under all circumstances;
    • Shad-sampat, the six virtues:
      • Sama, tranquility or balance of mind, calmness;
      • Dama, becoming master of the senses with pure awareness;
      • Uparati, renunciation of attachments or identification with worldly activities;
      • Titiksha, endurance of changing and opposite circumstances;
      • Shradha, faith in the possibility of atman or the supreme;
      • Samadhana, knowing being beyond mind.
    • Mumukshutva, intense longing for liberation.
  • Sravana, becoming receptive to the knowledge gained from shruti (or listening) and becoming open to seers and sages who have known the Satya (absolute truth). Sravana opens the door for reality to enter into being which has become freed of ego via freedom from identification with limited aspects of reality. Thus sravana being opened towards the totality receives absolute truth.
  • Manana, the stage of conscious reflection on the understanding gained;
  • Dhyana, the stage of meditation of being with the truth "that art Thou".

See also[edit]


  1. ^ For translation of jñāna yoga as "union due to pure knowledge" see: Flood (1996), p. 127.
  2. ^ For definition of jñāna as "knowledge" see: Apte, p. 457.
  3. ^ For the varying views of Shankara and Ramanuja, see: Flood (1996), p. 127.
  4. ^ B-Gita 13.35 "Those who see with eyes of knowledge the difference between the body and the knower of the body, and can also understand the process of liberation from bondage in material nature, attain to the supreme goal."
  5. ^ puligandla 1997, p. 253.
  6. ^ a b puligandla 1997, p. 251-254.
  7. ^ Shankara, Adi; Translator: Charles Johnston. "The Crest Jewel of Wisdom". pp. Ch. 1. Retrieved 2008-04-28. 
  8. ^ Advaita Yoga Ashrama, Jnana Yoga. Introduction


  • 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. 
  • 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. 
  • Puligandla, Ramakrishna (1985). Jñâna-Yoga--The Way of Knowledge (An Analytical Interpretation). New York: University Press of America. ISBN 0-8191-4531-9. 
  • Varenne, Jean; Derek Coltman (1976). Yoga and the Hindu Tradition. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-85114-1.