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| The word Jnana,
in Sanskrit, means knowledge, insight or wisdom. In the spiritual context
it means a special kind of liberating knowledge or intuition. To know Brahman
as one's own Self is Jnana. To say, "I am Brahman, the pure, all-pervading
Consciousness, the non-enjoyer, non-doer and silent witness," is Jnana.
To behold the one Self everywhere is Jnana.
Ajnana is ignorance. To identify oneself with the illusory vehicles of body, mind, prana and the senses is Ajnana. To say, " I am the doer, the enjoyer, I am a Brahmin, a Brahmachari, this is mine, he is my son," is Ajnana. Jnana alone can destroy Ajnana, even as light alone can remove darkness.
Jnana yoga is the yoga of knowledge-not knowledge in the intellectual sense-but the knowledge of Brahman and Atman and the realization of their unity. Where the devotee of God follows the promptings of the heart, the jnani uses the powers of the mind to discriminate between the real and the unreal, the permanent and the transitory.
Brahman, the Supreme Self, is neither the doer of actions nor the enjoyer of the fruits of actions. The creation, preservation and destruction of the world are not due to Him. They are due to the action of Maya, the Lord's energy manifesting itself as the world-process.
Just as space appears to be of three kinds - absolute space, space limited by a jar, and space reflected in the water of a jar, - so also there are three kinds of intelligence. They are absolute intelligence, intelligence reflected in Maya, and intelligence reflected in the Jiva (the individual soul). The notion of the doer is the function of intelligence as reflected in the intellect. This, together with the notion of Jiva, is superimposed by the ignorant on the pure and limitless Brahman, the silent witness.
The illustration of space absolute, space limited by a jar and space reflected in the water of a jar, is given to convey the idea that in reality Brahman is alone. But because of Maya, however, it appears as three.
The notion that the reflection of intelligence is real, is erroneous, and is due to ignorance. Brahman is without limitation; limitation is a superimposition on Brahman.
The identity of the Supreme Self and the Jiva or reflected self is established through the statement of the Upanishad 'Tat Tvam Asi' - 'That Thou Art'. When the knowledge of the identity of the two arises, then world problems and ignorance, with all their offshoots, are destroyed and all doubts disappear.
Self-realization or direct intuitive perception of the Supreme Self is necessary for attaining freedom and perfection. This Jnana Yoga or the path of Wisdom is, however, not meant for the masses whose hearts are not pure enough and whose intellects are not sharp enough to understand and practice this razor-edge path. Hence, Karma Yoga and Bhakti are to be practiced first, which will render the heart pure and make it fit for the reception of Knowledge.
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