Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Jnana Yoga

Jnana yoga can be defined as the set of disciplines that help us to acquire Self-knowledge. Self-knowledge is the knowledge of our Real Self, the sentient force behind our body-mind complex, that is called Athma. So Jnanam in Jnana Yoga stands for Athma Jnanam.  As Yoga stands for Sadhanam, means, Jnana Yoga represents a course of disciplines to acquire Athma-Jnanam.  Means of knowledge is called Pramana and in the earlier blog on “The Six Pramanas” we have seen that we employ consciously or unconsciously six pramanas to gain knowledge of various objects we come across. They are Pratyaksha, Anumana, Upamana, Arthapathi, Anupalabdhi, and Sabda.  Of these the first five pramanas can help one to gain knowledge of external objects only as these only are subject to perception by one’s five Jnanendriyas; eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin.  So one cannot employ any of these five pramanas singly or severally to gain knowledge of one’s inner Self, Athma, as Athma being the subject is not subject to objectification.  So one employs the sixth pramana, Sabda pramana in the case of Self-knowledge. 

Sabda Pramana is the verbal testimony from an authentic source, free from defects. Sastras only are such an authentic source for Athma Jnanam.  So study of Sastras becomes the process for Jnana Yoga.  Brihadharanyaka Upanishad gives the prescription for Athma Jnanam in the words of Sage Yajnavalkya to his wfe, Maitreyi (2-4-5) “Atma va are drstavyah srotavyo mantavyo nidhidhyasitavyo Maitreyi”  O! Maitreyi, Athma is to be discovered through Sravanam, Mananam, Nidhidhyasanam”.  Discovery of Athma itself constitutes Athma Jnanam as we are already experiencing Athma, without knowing its Real nature.  So when ignorance of Athma, Athma Ajjnanam, is dispelled through Sravanam, Mananam and Nidhidhyasanam, Athma Jnanam is acquired.  So these three stages in the discovery of Athma are the three stages in the study of Sastras, which constitutes the path of Jnana Yoga. So we can redefine Jnana Yoga as acquiring Self-knowledge through the analytical study of Sastras, consisting of Sravanam, Mananam and Nidhidhyasanam. 

Sravanam is consistent, systematic study of Sastras under a competent Guru.  The scriptural teaching by a competent Guru helps as a verbal mirror to discover one’s true Self removing Self-ignorance.  This is the first stage of Jnana Yoga.  This stage helps removal of ajnanam and acquisition of self-knowledge. Then comes the second stage of Jnana Yoga.  As even one is receiving the teaching, several doubts come in one’s mind and the teacher does not want the student to blindly believe what he says as this is a matter of understanding correctly using one’s intellect and not a matter of believing with one’s heart. Therefore the Guru allows the student to think rationally and until the student is intellectually convinced, the Guru is ready for any amount of discussion. This interaction and clarification of all doubts, rendering the acquired knowledge doubt-free is called Mananam. This is the second important part of Jnana Yoga.  So through Mananam all the intellectual obstacles are removed and the knowledge is converted into conviction.

Nidhidhyasanam helps internalisation or assimilation of the doubt-free knowledge, deconditioning all the negative emotions developed in the dark room of ignorant mind. This is done by constantly meditating on the teaching which is free from all doubts.  While Mananam is for removal of intellectual obstacles, Nidhidhyasanam is for removal of mental and emotional obstacles like worry, guilt, anger, fear, hurt etc.  This is called Vedantic meditation as it involves meditating upon the teachings including Mahavakhyas.  While Sravaṇam and Mananam makes one Prajna, Nidhidhyasanam converts him to Sthithaprajna,the Jeevanmuktha.

The above analysis is from the angle of Advaita Vedanta that gives primary importance to Jnana Yoga for as per Advaita Vedanta one’s Real Self is no different from Brahman, the Absolute and one gains the realization of Jeeva-Brahma Ikyam through Jnana Yoga which takes one to Jeevan Mukthi.  In Dvaita and Visishtadvaita primary importance is given to Bhakthi Yoga and Jnanam is only treated as accessory to Bhakthi and they do not subscribe to the principles of Jeevan Mukthi and Jeeva-Brahma Ikyam. Let us continue to explore Jnana Yoga from the angle of Advaita Vedanta only, a little more. 

In Gita, Lord Krishna states that Athma Jnanam, (which He calls Jnanam), is the proper understanding of anathma (called Kshetra) and of Athma (called Kshetrajna
क्षेत्रक्षेत्रज्ञयोर्ज्ञानं यत्तज्ज्ञानं मतं मम।।13.3।। 
Kshetrakshetrajnayor jnaanam yattat jnaanam matam mama.
The knowledge of Kshetra and Kshetrajna is considered by Me as true Knowledge.

Earlier Sri Krishna has defined Kshetra as one’s body and later elaborates it to include in anathma,  the world plus the body plus the mind along with all their conditions.   Swami Paramatmananda sums up anathma  as ”achetana (insentient), saguna (with attributes), savikara (subject to change) tattvam”.  Sri Krishna also defines Kshetrajna as the one and same in-dweller of all the bodies, who is none other than Himself.   This is the principle of Pure Consciousness which is called Jevathma in body and Paramathma in the context of whole creation and which goes by the general name of Athma.  Swami Paramarthananda  gives the features of Athma tattvam i.e. Pure consciousness as:
1)    Consciousness is not a part, product or part of the body
2)    Consciousness is an independent entity that pervades and enlivens the body
3)    Consciousness pervades everywhere without boundary limitations
4)    Consciousness continues to survive the body, the manifesting medium
5)  The surviving Consciousness is not available for transactions due to demise of manifesting medium. 

Sri Krishna illustrates this with two examples as follows:
यथा सर्वगतं सौक्ष्म्यादाकाशं नोपलिप्यते।
सर्वत्रावस्थितो देहे तथाऽऽत्मा नोपलिप्यते।।13.33
Yathaa sarvagatam saukshmyaadaakaasham nopalipyate;
Sarvatraavasthito dehe tathaatmaa nopalipyate.
 As the all-pervading space is not defiled, because of its subtlety, similarly the Self, present everywhere in the body (The singular number is used to denote a class, i.e. all bodies.) is not defiled.

यथा प्रकाशयत्येकः कृत्स्नं लोकमिमं रविः।
क्षेत्रं क्षेत्री तथा कृत्स्नं प्रकाशयति भारत।।13.34
Yathaa prakaashayatyekah kritsnam lokamimam ravih;
Kshetram kshetree tathaa kritsnam prakaashayati bhaarata
As the single sun illumines this whole world, similarly, O Arjuna, Kshetrajna  illumines the whole Kshetra

Realisation of this Athma as one’s Real Self is called Self-Realisation, the goal of Jnana Yoga. For knowledge of Self is acquired as Self-realisation only.  Because all other questions may be understood intellectually, but not the final question: Who or what is the Self?   The answer to Who/What is the Self? must be from the Self by It-Self and it can come through realisation only. 

Sri Krishna also affirms this later:
क्षेत्रक्षेत्रज्ञयोरेवमन्तरं ज्ञानचक्षुषा।
भूतप्रकृतिमोक्षं ये विदुर्यान्ति ते परम्।।13.35
Kshetrakshetrajnayor evam antaram jnaanachakshushaa;
Bhootaprakritimoksham cha ye vidur yaanti te param
Those who know thus through the (discerning) eye of wisdom (opened through Jnana Yoga) the distinction between the Kshetra (anathma) and the Kshetrajna (Athma) and of the liberation from cause, of the beings and bhuthas (elements), they attain the Supreme.

For all the beings and bhuthas, cause of being is Prakrithi or Maya and liberation from cause denotes Mithyathvam.  So the above statement is to be interpreted as “Those whose discerning eye of wisdom is opened through the process of Sravanam, Mananam and Nidhidhyasanam to the true knowledge of Athma and anathma and to the Mithyatvam of Nature and Universe (anathma) attain the Supreme Bliss of Paramathma (becoming Jeevan Muktha).”

1 comment:

  1. நல்ல பதிவு.
    மாயை வெல்ல ஆத்மமஞானம்.
    உனக்குள்ளே நீ. உன்னையே நீ அறிந்து கொள்.