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In Indian philosophy and religions, jñāna (Sanskrit: ज्ञान, [ˈdʑɲaːnɐ])[1][a] is "knowledge".

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

The root ज्ञा- jñā- is cognate to Slavic znati, English know, as well as to the Greek γνώ- (as in γνῶσις gnosis) and Lithuanian žinoti. Its antonym is अज्ञान ajñāna "ignorance".


Jñāna sometimes transcribed as gyaan, means "knowledge" in Sanskrit. The root jñā- is cognate to English know, as well as to the Greek γνώ- (as in γνῶσις gnosis). Its antonym is ajñāna "ignorance".[3]

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.[4]

In Theravada Buddhism there are various vipassana-ñanas or "insight knowledges" on the path of insight into the true nature of reality.[5] 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.[5]

In Hinduism[edit]


Prajñānam Brahma (प्रज्ञानम् ब्रह्म), one of the Mahāvākyas, roughly means "Insight is Brahman" or "Brahman is Insight".[6]


Jñāna yoga (ज्ञानयोग, lit. Yoga of Knowledge) is one of the three main paths (मार्ग, margas), which are supposed to lead towards moksha (मोक्ष, liberation) from material miseries. The other two main paths are Karma yoga and Bhakti yoga. Rāja yoga (राजयोग, 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 (śloka 1.9) and Sarvārthasiddhi, knowledge is of five kinds:[7]

  1. Mati Jñāna (Sensory Knowledge)
  2. Śruta Jñāna (Scriptural Knowledge)
  3. Avadhi Jñāna (Clairvoyance)
  4. Manaḥ prayāya Jñāna (Telepathy)
  5. Kevalā Jñāna (Omniscience)

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. ^ Jñāna is also often transliterated into English as jnana, jnan, gyana, gyan, or gyaan.


  1. ^ "Gyan – definition of gyan in English". Oxford Dictionaries. Archived from the original on July 8, 2012. Retrieved 2016-08-23.
  2. ^ "jnana (Indian religion)". Britannica Online Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2012-05-15.
  3. ^ Apte, Vaman Shivram (1965). The Practical Sanskrit Dictionary. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers. p. 457. ISBN 81-208-0567-4.
  4. ^ 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
  5. ^ 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)
  6. ^ Sahu 2004, p. 41.
  7. ^ Jain, S.A. (1992). Reality_JMT. Jwalamalini Trustp=16.


  • 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]