- Professor V. Krishnamurthy
The word `yoga' can be derived
in two ways:
yujyate iti yogaH - `union'
yujyate anena iti yogaH - 'that by which the union is effected'.
Anandagiri points out that, in the expressions
karma-yoga, bhakti-yoga and j~nAna-yoga, the
word `yoga' is used in the sense of `that by
which the union is effected'. He says, "yujyate
anena brahmaNA" -that by means of which
the jIvAtmA is united with brahman. It is well
known that the word `united' is not to be taken
literally because there are not two entities
to be united. It only means the realization of
the identity of jIvAtmA and paramAtmA.
Thus karma-yoga means `karma as the means of
realization' and similarly bhakti-yoga and j~nAna-yoga
also. So, when j~nAna is the means of realization,
it is j~nAna-yoga.
It is true that the phrase 'j~nAna-yoga' does
not occur in the 10 major Upanishads. In the
Gita text the only two times it occurs are III-3
and XVI - 1. On the first occasion the AchArya
writes in the bhAShya: j~nAnam eva yogaH - j~nAna
itself is the yoga. At the second appearance
it is only intended to mean j~nAna and yoga.
When j~nAna is taken as the means of realization
in the word `j~nAna- yoga', the natural question
that arises is: `What may be defined as j~nAna?'
. Krishna himself describes j~nAnaM in the 13th
chapter in five shloka-s and says, at the end:
`etat j~nAnam iti proktaM' (XIII -11) - `This
is said to be j~nAnaM'.
Actually it is a no-compromise listing of a
number of profound qualities: absence of pride;
absence of deceit; non-violence; patience; uprightness;
service of the teacher; purity; steadfastness
and self-control; indifference to the objects
of sense; self-effacement; perception of the
evil of birth, death, old age, sickness and pain;
non-attachment; absence of clinging to son, wife,
home and the like; a constant equanimity to all
happenings, desirable or undesirable; unswerving
devotion to the Lord with whole-hearted discipline;
resort to solitude; dislike for people/crowds;
constancy in the knowledge of the Inner Self;
and, finally, insight into the end of the Knowledge
of Truth. This list is really formidable and
does not give us any hint as to how to keep it
as a `MEANS of realization', except to keep it
as the ideal goal.
A hint at a direct answer comes from Krishna
in XIII-24 where He says: By meditation, some
perceive the Self in the self by the self; others
by the path of knowledge and still others by
the path of works.
So here we know what contrasts with Karma Yoga
and Bhakti Yoga, as a path to realization.
"AtmanI AtmanA AtmAnaM pashyatI" -
`Perceive the Self by oneself in oneself'. This
one does by j~nAna-yoga, (or, what is the same
in this context, sAMkhya-yoga) as shloka XIII
-24 says. This is the "yukta AsIta mat-paraH" that
Krishna already uses in II-61 and again repeats
Although the end seems clear, what makes it
a yoga – a means of realization – is
not clear at this point. Though Krishna elaborates
many times upon how one controls the senses,
i.e. how one persists in one's yoga-sAdhanA,
the sAdhanA aspect of j~nAna-yoga is spelt out
only in bRRihadAraNyaka upaniShat 2.4.5 which
says: "AtmA vA are shrotavyo mantavyo nididhyAsitavyaH".
So j~nAna- yoga is the triad of shravaNam, mananam,
nididhyAsanam. The end of it all is realization – revelation
of the eternal truth, which is already there
but which we have not realized because of our
Ignorance. This self-revelation of the Self is
not therefore an effect, (of yoga). What has
been effected by the yoga is the removal of ignorance.
And so the word j~nAna-yoga should not to be
considered as the name for a path, though such
calling is sanctified by usage, for want of a
better way of communication. shravaNam - hearing
the sayings and teachings of Seers; mananaM -
reflecting on what has been heard; and nididhyAsanaM
- contemplating on the conclusions thus arrived
at; these are the three actions which together
constitute what is usually called j~nAna-yoga.
When the revelation comes, one perceives (that
is what they say!) the Self by oneself in oneself
- and the important point to note is that, thereafter,
there is no slip-down!
Comment by Sunder Hattangadi:
There are three verses in the Gita where the
'perception' occurs only through the 'j~nAna
(or divya) chakShu":
na tu maaM shakyase draShTumanenaiva svachakShuShaa
. divyaM dadaami te chakShuH pashya me yogamaishvaram.h
But You are not able to behold Me with these Your own eyes;
I give You the divine-eye; behold My lordly YOGA.
. bhuutaprakR^itimokShaM cha ye viduryaanti te
param.h .. 13\-35..
They who, with their eye-of-wisdom come to know the distinction
between the "Field" and the "Knower-of-the-Field, " and
of the liberation from the "PRAKRITI of the being, " go
to the Supreme.
utkraamantaM sthitaM vaapi bhu~njaanaM vaa guNaanvitam.h
. vimuuDhaa naanupashyanti pashyanti j~naanachakShuShaH
Him, who departs, stays and enjoys, who is united with GUNAS,
the deluded do not see; but they do behold Him, who possess
the "eye-of- Knowledge. "
Comment by Madathil Nair:
This post is based on my memory of Swami Dayananda
BG 3.3. declares that there are only two paths.
j~nAna yoga (saMnyAsa) and karma yoga. There
is no separate path called bhakti. Bhakti is
inherent and an essential part of both j~nAna
yoga and karma yoga. Bhakti is as inseparable
from the two like sweetness in honey.
Swamiji gives two definitions for yoga.
(a) yoga karmasu kausalam - Dexterity in action is yoga, i.e.
performing actions keeping in view the total harmony of the
entire creation is yoga
(b) samatwaM yoga ucyate - equanimity and equipoise is yoga.
This has a bearing on 2.47 and 2.48 of BG (karmayeva
adhikAraste… and yogasta kuru karmANi…).
j~nAna yoga and karma yoga overlap as actions
are involved in saMnyAsa and vedAntic knowledge
is required for the performance of actions in
a non-binding manner with prasAda buddhi in karma
yoga. One wouldn't fail to notice the intermingling
of the two paths in Chapter 2 of BG.
j~nAna yoga presupposes a firm advaitic conviction.
One who embarks on this path has literally burnt
all his boats and there is no more any going
back for him to his pUrvAshrama [former way of
If the above meanings of yoga are imported into
Br. Up. 2.4.5, then j~nAna yoga means a life
of saMnyAsa, aimed at attaining Self-Knowledge
(akhaNDAkAra vRRitti), embarked upon with an
unshakable conviction of the truth of advaita,
dedicated to listening (reading included), reflecting,
contemplating and meditating on Brahman and performing
actions required therefore in a non-binding manner
with prasAda buddhi, equanimity and equipoise.
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for the Terms and Definition.