Jnana Yoga – The Yoga Of Wisdom – Most Difficult Of The Four Paths Of Yoga


Jnana Yoga – The Yoga Of Wisdom

Jnana Yoga is the Yoga of Wisdom. He who seeks to unite himself with the Supreme Self through philosophy and inquiry is called the Jnana Yogin. Jnana Yoga is considered to be the most difficult of the four main paths of Yoga.

What Is Jnana?

Jnana is knowledge. To know Brahman as one’s own Self is Jnana. Ajnana is ignorance. To identify oneself with the illusory vehicles of body and mind is Ajnana. As the light only can remove the darkness so is only Jnana which can destroy Ajnana.

Goal Of Jnana Yoga & How To Achieve It?

Jnana Yoga deals with wisdom, knowledge, and intellect.  It trains and uses your mind as a tool for self-realization. To gain the Jnana (knowledge) is, in itself, a difficult thing and using the Jnana for self-realization is even more difficult and challenging. Jnana Yoga requires a strong will and intellect to enable you to inquire into your own nature and go beyond the mind’s thoughts and ego.

The goal of Jnana yoga is to get liberated from the illusory world of Maya and to achieve the union of the self-consciousness with the supreme consciousness. This is achieved by practicing the techniques of discrimination, dispassion, six-fold qualities of perfection and intense longing for liberation, that are described under the Four Pillars of Knowledge called Sadhana Chatushtaya.

Sadhana Chatushtaya – The Four Pillars Of Knowledge

A student who treads the path of Jnana Yoga must first equip himself with Sadhana Chatushtaya – the “four means of salvation” or “The Four Pillars of Knowledge”. They are – Viveka, Vairagya, Shat-Sampat, and Mumukshutva. These four means are as old as the Vedas. Every religion prescribes them, may the names differ in every path. It is always advisable to practice these four methods mentioned below in sequential order as one leads to the other.

1. Viveka

Viveka is intellect. It is discrimination between the real and the unreal, between the permanent and the temporary, between the Self and the non-Self. Viveka comes to a man only by the Grace of God. The Grace will come after one has done a continuous and selfless service in his past, including previous births, with the feeling that all the work that he is doing is the work of the Lord.

Association with saints and study of Vedic literature will infuse discrimination in a seeker.

2. Vairagya

Vairagya is dispassion for the pleasures of this world. The view that everything in this world is temporary and unreal results in indifference towards the enjoyments of this world. Vairagya does not mean abandoning one’s social duties and responsibilities of life. It does not mean to live in a solitary cave of the Himalayas or in a forest. It is mental detachment from the worldly objects. One may discharge all duties but still with detachment. He may be a common man with a family, yet he may have the mental detachment from the materialistic world.

3. Shat Sampatti

Shat-Sampat, the sixfold virtue, are six mental practices to stabilize the mind. It consists of Sama, Dama, Uparati, Titiksha, Sraddha, and Samadhana. All these six qualities are mental practices to stabilize the mind and to control and discipline the mind, without which concentration and meditation are impossible.

  1. Sama is serenity or tranquillity and is the ability to keep the mind peaceful, brought about by the eradication of desires.
  2. Dama is rational control of the senses. It is the control of the mind to be able to control the senses.
  3. Uparati is resolutely turning the mind away from the desire for sensual enjoyment. This state of mind comes naturally when one has practiced Viveka, Vairagya, Sama, and Dama. Uparati pertains to a simple lifestyle with no worldly distractions from the spiritual path.
  4. Titiksha is the power of endurance. It is the tolerance of external non-conducive situations that cause suffering.  An aspirant should be able to patiently bear the pairs of opposites such as heat and cold, pleasure and pain, success and failure etc.
  5. Sraddha is intense faith in the word of the Guru, scriptures, yogic path and own self. It is faith based on accurate reasoning, evidence, and experience. It is everlasting and unshakable.
  6. Samadhana is fixing the mind on Brahman or the Self, without allowing it to run towards objects. It is one-pointedness or concentration of the mind. There are stability and mental poise in mind of the aspirant. He has neither likes nor dislikes.

4. Mumukshutva

Mumukshutva is an intense desire for liberation from sufferings of this world. With the purification of mind and mental discipline, the longing for liberation dawns by itself.

The aspirant, who is equipped with Sadhana Chatushtaya, should approach the Guru, who will instruct him on the knowledge of his real nature. The Guru is the perfect guide and has a thorough knowledge of the scriptures. The aspirant should then meditate on the inner Self and strive earnestly to attain the goal of Self-realization.


As Swami Sivananda has said – “For a sage or Jivanmukta, there is neither joy nor sorrow, neither birth nor death. He has crossed the ocean of Samsara or worldly course of life and reached the other shore of fearlessness and immortality. He has become Brahman himself. Brahmavit Brahmaiva Bhavati. The Knower of Brahman becomes Brahman. This is the emphatic declaration of the Srutis or Upanishads. The aim of Jnana Yoga is the destruction of the notion of duality and the establishment of the unity of the individual self with the Supreme Self”.

Also, read –

Bhakti Yoga – Easiest Of The Four Yogic Paths To Enlightenment

Raja Yoga – Yoga For Developing & Harmonising The Mind

About the author

Mahendra Kumar Vyas

Mahendra Vyas, with parental home at Jodhpur and born to Late Shri Goverdhan Lal Vyas and Shrimati Sharda Vyas, did Civil Engineering from M.B.M.Engineering College, Jodhpur. Shifted to Mumbai after completing engineering and worked with Sanjay Narang's Mars Group and Aditya Birla Group. With an inclination to spirituality and service, joined the Yoga stream and became a part of Yoga Niketan, Goregaon (west) in 2002 and since then practicing and imparting Yoga knowledge at Yoga Niketan and different corporates.

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