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In Indian philosophy and religions, jñāna (Sanskrit: ज्ञान, pronounced [ɡjɑ́ː.n̪ɐ] or [d͡ʑɲɑ́ː.n̪ɐ]) (Pali: ñāṇa) (Hindi: gyān)[1] is "knowledge".

The idea of jnana centers on a cognitive event which is recognized when experienced. It is knowledge inseparable from the total experience of reality, especially a total or divine reality (Brahman).[2]

The root jñā- is cognate to English know, as well as to the Greek γνώ- (as in γνῶσις gnosis) and Russian знание. Its antonym is ajñāna "ignorance".

In Buddhism[edit]

In Tibetan Buddhism, jñāna (Tibetan: ye shes) refers to pure awareness that is free of conceptual encumbrances, and is contrasted with vijñana, which is a moment of 'divided knowing'. Entrance to, and progression through the ten stages of jñana (Bodhisattva bhumis), will lead one to complete enlightenment and nirvana.[3]

In Theravada Buddhism there are various vipassana-ñanas or "insight knowledges" on the path of insight into the true nature of reality.[4] 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.[4]

In Hinduism[edit]


Prajñānam Brahma (प्रज्ञानम् ब्रह्म), one of the Mahāvākyas, roughly means "Insight is Brahman" or "Brahman is Insight".[5]


Jñāna 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.

In Jainism[edit]

According to the Jain texts like Tattvārthsūtra and Sarvārthasiddhi, knowledge is of five kinds:[6]

  • Kevala Jnana (Omniscience)
  • Śrutu Jñāna (Scriptural Knowledge)
  • Mati Jñāna (Sensory Knowledge)
  • Avadhi Jñāna (Clairvoyance)
  • Manah prayāya Jñāna (Telepathy)

In Islam[edit]

Also derived from the word jnana is the term ginan, meaning gnosis. Ginans are the sacred literature of the Nizari Ismailis Muslims, and treat topics including divine love, cosmology, rituals, eschatology, ethical behavior and meditation. Ranging from three verses to hundreds of pages, ginans are attributed to the Pirs, who were second only to the Imams in Ismaili hierarchy. Ginan carries a similar sense as the Arabic Ismaili term haqa’iq, meaning true or supreme knowledge. [7]

In Sikhism[edit]

Gyan or Gian refers to spiritual knowledge. Learned people are often referred to as "Giani". It is mentioned throughout the Guru Granth Sahib.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Gyan – definition of gyan in English". Oxford Dictionaries. Retrieved 2016-08-23.
  2. ^ "jnana (Indian religion) - Britannica Online Encyclopedia". Britannica.com. Retrieved 2012-05-15.
  3. ^ 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
  4. ^ a b The Progress of Insight: (Visuddhiñana-katha), by The Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw, translated from the Pali with Notes by Nyanaponika Thera (1994; 33pp./99KB)
  5. ^ Sahu 2004, p. 41.
  6. ^ Jain, S.A. (1992). Reality_JMT. Jwalamalini Trustp=16.
  7. ^ Virani, Shafique N. “Symphony of Gnosis: A Self-Definition of the Ismaili Ginān Literature.” Chap. 55. In Reason and Inspiration in Islam: Theology, Philosophy and Mysticism in Muslim Thought. Edited by Todd Lawson, 503-521. London: I.B. Tauris in association with Institute of Ismaili Studies, 2005. https://www.academia.edu/36984287/Symphony_of_Gnosis_A_Self_Definition_of_the_Ismaili_Ginan_Literature


  • 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

External links[edit]