Gyan Yoga (ज्ञान योग) – The Yoga of Knowledge or Wisdom
This is the most difficult path, requiring tremendous strength of will and intellect. Taking the philosophy of Vedanta the Jnana Yogi uses his mind to inquire into its own nature. We perceive the space inside and outside a glass as different, just as we see ourselves as separate from God. Jnana Yoga leads the devotee to experience his unity with God directly by breaking the glass, dissolving the veils of ignorance. Before practicing Jnana Yoga, the aspirant needs to have integrated the lessons of the other yogic paths – for without selflessness and love of God, strength of body and mind, the search for self-realization can become mere idle speculation.
Vedanta is that philosophy which comes from the sacred scriptures called The Upanishads. The Upanishads are the final part of the ancient texts known as the Vedas.
Veda means knowledge and Anta means end. Therefore Vedanta is said to be the philosophy which leads to the end of knowledge and too from the ending part of the Vedas.
Three Types of Vedanta
Three main schools of Vedanta emerged:
Dvaita – the dualistic approach,
Advaita – the non-dualistic approach and
Kevala Advaita – the pure non-dualistic school.
The main exponent of Vedanta was the great sage Adi Sankara who was an adept of the Kevala Advaita Vedanta path.
Adi Sankara and Kevala Advaita Vedanta
Sri Sankaracharya summarized the essence of Vedantic teachings into three concise sentences. These are:
“Brahma Satyam. Jagat Mithya. Jivo Brahmaiva Na Parah.” These can be translated in English as follows:
God only is real. The world is unreal. The individual is none other than God.
Vedanta and Jnana Yoga
The beauty of Vedanta is that it transcends dry philosophy and mere intellectual concept. Vedanta is an actual life experience, a philosophy in practice. This practice includes the many techniques of Jnana Yoga (The Yoga of will and intellect).
Jyâna yoga teaches that there are four means to salvation:
1. Viveka – Discrimination: The ability to differentiate between what is real/eternal (Brahman) and what is unreal/temporal (everything else in the universe.) 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.
2. Vairagya – Dispassion: After practice one should be able to “detach” her/himself from everything that is “temporary.”
3. Shad-sampat – The 6 Virtues: Sama-Tranquility (control of the mind), Dama (control of the senses), Uparati (renunciation of activities that are not duties), Titiksha (endurance), Shraddha (faith), Samadhana (perfect concentration).
4. Mumukshutva – Intense longing for liberation from temporal legal traits.
In Bhagavad Gita (13.35) Sri Krishna says
“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.”