Jnana Yoga is defined as acquiring Self-knowledge through the analytical study of Scriptures, consisting of Sravanam, Mananam and Nidhidyasanam. This can also be stated as enquiry into the real nature of one’s Self i.e. as enquiry into “Who am I’, a favourite phraseology with Sri Ramana Maharishi. Maharishi has said “ The enquiry "Who am I?" is the Sravana. The ascertainment of the true import of `I' is the Manana. The practical application on each occasion is Nididhyasana. Being as `I' is samadhi.” When we see it in the light of teaching of Advaita Vedanta “ Jeevo Brahmaiva na parah”; knowing one’s Brahamatvam is Sravanam, consolidating this knowledge is Mananam and constantly dwelling in this knowledge not allowing thoughts to stray into Jeevatvam is Nidhidhyasanam, which can be called as Brahmabhyasam as well.
If one had come to Jnana Yoga after preparing oneself through Sadhana Chathushtayam i.e. with discrimination, detatchment, desire for Moksha and discipline of mind through six virtues, then one can dwell on the teaching informally to get established in one’s Brahmatvam. Dwelling on the teaching informally is in the form of repeated listening, writing notes, going through the notes and writing articles on the teaching, regular Satsangh and discussion with like-minded people, avoiding irrelevant talks and discussions. If one has come to Jnana Yoga straight without preparing and conditioning the mind through other disciplines like Karma Yoga, Upasana Yoga or Sadhana Chathushtayam, one need to dwell on the teaching formally in the form of Vedantic meditation as discussed by Sri Krishna in the chapter 6 of Gita. The meditation must be on the teaching in full as “Jeevo Brahmaiva na para” is only part teaching.
The full teaching is “Brahma Satyam, Jagat Mithya, Jeevo Brahmaiva na Parah”. The meditation has to cover the Mithyatvam of the world as well as Brahmatvam of Jeeva for whenever one sits for meditation thoughts of world and body will come to distract the attention. One has to deliberately reject these thoughts seeing the anityatvam of the world as well as of the body and fix attention on Chaitanyam, the Pure Consciousness. The Upanishads are telling one that really speaking, one ’s Self is Brahman only (Tat Tvam Asi). So taking oneself as Jeeva is a false notion born out of one’s ignorance – ignorance of the fact that one’s Self is Brahman only. Therefore in Nidhidhyasanam, one has to practice three exercises:
1) claiming Brahmatvam (Pure Consciousness) as one’s real nature
2) negating one’s Jīvatvam (body-mind-intellect complex) as a misconception and as not one’s real nature
3) rejecting the world with all its objects and relations involved as Mithya.
When this Jnanam is internalised one’s thoughts and views undergo a drastic change, everything else remaining the same. One realises Chaitanyam as One’s Real “I” i.e. higher “I” and ego ‘ I’, one had been employing all along, as the lower ‘I’. The ego ‘I’ is only a combination of mind and Chidabhasa, reflected Chaitanyam.
This owning up of Chaitanyam as higher ‘I’ gives one a new orientation giving rise to the following five capsules of thought regarding oneself , an amended version of the five capsules regarding Pure Consciousness stated by Swami Paramarthananda, quoted in the blog on Jnana Yoga:
1) I am of the nature of eternal and all pervading consciousness
2) I am the only source of permanent peace security and happiness for myself
3) By my mere presence, I give life to this material body and experience this material universe
4) I am never affected by any event that happens in the material world or the material body
5) By forgetting my real nature, I find life a struggle or burden. By remembering my nature, I view the life as drama and myself as a mere spectator only.
Let us now see this new thought pattern’s influence on the concept of Moksha. The conventional and popular notion of Moksha is liberation from the cycle of birth and death and so is referred to by the term Liberation itself. Liberation occurs when all the karmas; Sanchita, Agami and Prarabdha, get liquidated at the death of a Jnani and it is called Videhamukthi. In Advaita Vedanta, Liberation stands for freedom from Samsara as well which occurs in successful Jnana Yoga and this is called Jeevan Mukthi. Both Videha Mukthi and Jivan Mukthi lose their relevance when one discovers one’s Athma-swarupam. One then understands that as Athma, one is all the time free whether one acknowledges it or not and that “I am bound” is a misconception. Therefore the question of Liberation does not arise at all. When the idea of bondage goes away then the need for Liberation also goes away. So no bondage, no Liberation as declared in Nirvana Shatkam (ver.6) is a special feature of Nidhidhyasanam.