Jnana Yoga Practices and Benefits

Jnana Yoga (Sanskrit: ज्ञान योग) is the process of converting intellectual knowledge into practical wisdom. It is a discovery of human dharma in relation to nature and the universe. Jnana yoga is described by tradition as a means to obtain the highest meditative state and inner knowledge. Jnana yoga is an ancient practice of the Vedic period. It was one of the earliest established concepts of yoga. It is mentioned in the Bhagavad Gita and Upanishads. Ancient Upanishads tells about realizing that self is about ultimate energy. However, Siddha Spirituality of Swami Hardas Life System also supports the concept and propagates Karma yoga, Bhakti yoga, and Jnana yoga with improved Siddha methods, developed by Dr. Swami Hardas.

Jnana Meaning

Jnana literally means ‘knowledge’, but in the context of yoga, it means the process of meditative awareness which leads to illuminative wisdom. It is not a method by which we try to find rational answers to eternal questions, rather it is a part of meditation leading to self-inquiry and self-realization.

Jnana Yoga Or the Yoga Of Knowledge
Meaning of Jnana Yoga: Bhagavad Gita of Lord Krishna

Jnana yoga: A path of Knowledge

Jnana yoga, also known as jnana marga, is one of the three classical paths (margas) for moksha (liberation) in Hinduism, which emphasizes the “path of knowledge”, also known as the “path of self-realization”. The other two are Karma yoga (path of action, karma-marga) and Bhakti yoga (path of loving devotion to a personal god, Bhakti-marga). Modern interpretations of Hindu texts have yielded systems, techniques, and formulations such as Raja yoga and Kriya yoga.

The Jnana yoga is a spiritual practice that pursues knowledge with questions such as “who am I, what am I” among others. The practitioner studies usually with the aid of a guru, meditates, reflects, and reaches liberating insights on the nature of one’s own Self (Atman, soul) and its relationship to the metaphysical concept called Brahman in Hinduism. The Jnana-marga ideas are discussed in ancient and medieval era Hindu scriptures and texts such as the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita.

Jnana yoga Etymology

Jnana, sometimes transcribed as gyaan, means “knowledge” in Sanskrit. The root jna- is cognate to English know, as well as to the Greek γνώ- (as in γνῶσις gnosis). Its antonym is ajnana “ignorance”.

Jnana yoga Definition

Jnana is knowledge, which refers to any cognitive event that is correct and true over time. It particularly refers to knowledge inseparable from the total experience of its object, especially about reality or supreme being. In Hinduism, it is the knowledge that gives Moksha, or spiritual liberation while alive or after death. According to Bimal Matilal, Jnana yoga in Advaita Vedanta connotes both primary and secondary sense of its meaning, that is “self-consciousness, awareness” in the absolute sense and relative “intellectual understanding” respectively.

Jnana yoga encourages its adepts to think and speak of themselves in the third person as a way to distance themselves from the Ego and detach their eternal self (atman) from the body-related one (Maya).

Jnana yoga as per Upanishad

In the Upanishads, Jnana yoga aims at the realization of the oneness of the individual self (Atman) and the ultimate Self (Brahman). These teachings are found in the early Upanishads. According to Chambliss, the mystical teachings within these Upanishads discuss “the way of knowledge of the Self”, a union, the realization that the Self (Atman) and the Brahman are logical.

The teachings in the Upanishads have been interpreted in a number of ways, ranging from non-theistic monism to theistic dualism. In the former, rituals are not necessary and a path of introspection and meditation is emphasized for the correct knowledge (Jnana) of self. It is the full and correct knowledge of a Vishnu avatar of Shiva or Shakti (Goddess) that is emphasized. In all its various interpretations, the paths are not necessarily mutually exclusive. A Jnana yogi may also practice Karma yoga or Bhakti yoga or both, and differing levels of emphasis.

According to Robert Roeser, the precepts of Jnana yoga in Hinduism were likely systematized by about 500 BCE, earlier than Karma yoga and Bhakti yoga.

Jnana yoga as per Bhagavad Gita

In the Bhagavad Gita, Jnana yoga is also referred to as Buddhi yoga and its goal is self-realization. The text considers Jnana marga as the most difficult, slow, confusing for those who prefer it because it deals with “formless reality”, the avyakta. It is the path that intellectually oriented people tend to prefer.

Chapter 4 of the Bhagavad Gita is dedicated to the general exposition of Jnana yoga, while chapters 7 and 16 discuss its theological and axiological aspects. Krishna says that jnana is the purest and a discovery of one’s Atman:

Truly, there is nothing here as pure as knowledge. In time, he who is perfected in yoga finds that in his own Atman. — Bhagavad Gita 4.38, Translator: Jeaneane D. Fowler

Introducing Srimad Bhagavad Gita - A User`s Manual for Every Day Living
Jnana Yoga As Per Bhagavad Gita: Diagram

Jnana yoga Traditions

The Advaita philosopher Adi Shankara gave primary importance to Jnana yoga for the “knowledge of the absolute” (Brahman), while the Vishishtadvaita commentator Ramanujar regarded knowledge only as a condition of devotion.

Classical Advaita Vedanta

Jnana yoga Behaviors

Classical Advaita Vedanta emphasizes the path of Jnana yoga to attain moksha. It consists of fourfold attitudes or behavioral qualifications:

  1. Discrimination (Nityānitya Vastu Viveka, or simply Viveka) — The ability to correctly discriminate (Viveka) between the unchanging, permanent, eternal (Nitya) and the changing, transitory, temporary (Anitya).
  2. Dispassion of fruits (Ihamutrārtha Phala bhoga viraga, or simply viraga) — The dispassionate indifference (viraga) to the fruits, to enjoyments of objects (artha Phala bhoga) or to the other worlds (Amutra) after rebirth.
  3. Six virtues (Samadi ṣatka Sampatti, or simply Satsampat):
    1. Sama, temperance of mind
    2. Dama, temperance of sense organs (voluntary self restraints)
    3. Uparati, withdrawal of the mind from sensory objects 
    4. Titiksa, forbearance
    5. Sraddha, faith
    6. Samadhana, the concentration of mind
  4. Drive, longing (Mumuksutva) — intense yearning for moksha from the state of ignorance

Jnana yoga Practices

Jnana yoga for Advaitins consists of three practices:

  • Sravana (hearing): Sravana literally means hearing, and broadly refers to perception and observations typically aided by a counselor or teacher (guru), wherein the Advaitin listens and discusses the ideas, concepts, questions, and answers.
  • Manana (thinking): Manana refers to thinking about these discussions and contemplating the various ideas based on Svadhyaya and Sravana.
  • Nididhyasana (meditation): Nididhyasana refers to meditation, realization, and consequent conviction of the truths, non-duality, and a state where there is a fusion of thought and action, knowing and being. 

This three-step methodology is rooted in the teachings of chapter 4 of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad.

These practices, with the help of a guru, are believed to lead to correct knowledge, which destroys avidya, psychological and perceptual errors related to Atman and Brahman.

Jnana yoga as per Shaivism

Both the theistic and monistic streams of Shaivism include Jnana yoga ideas, along with those related to Karma yoga, and in the case of Saiva Siddhanta ideas related to Bhakti yoga. The Shaivism traditions do not consider renunciation necessary for practicing Jnana yoga, leaving the ascetic yogi lifestyle optional. 

Spirituality can be pursued along with active life (Karma), according to Shaiva traditions, and it believes that this does not hinder one’s ability to journey towards self (Shiva within) realization. The traditions dwell into this integration of Karma yoga with Jnana yoga, such as by ranking daily behavior and activity that is done by choice and when not necessary as higher in spiritual terms than activity that is impulsive or forced.

The methodology of Sravana, Manana, and Nididhyasana similar to Advaita Vedanta is also found in various traditions of Shaivism. However, Nishtha or Samadhi is sometimes added in Shaiva methodology. The meditational aspects of Shaivism focus on the Nirguna form of Supreme Reality (Shiva).

Jnana yoga as per Vaishnavism

Vaishnavism also incorporates Bhakti yoga concepts of loving devotion to the divine Supreme personally selected by the devotee, in saguna form, both in silent meditational and musical expressive styles.

The aim of Jnana yoga in Vaishnavism differs from that in other schools. Advaita, for example, considers Jnana yoga as the path to non-dual self-knowledge and moksha. Vaishnavism, in contrast, considers it a condition of devotion.

Jnana yoga as per Shaktism

The Shaktism literature on goddess such as Kularnava Tantra highlight jnana marga as important to liberation. It differentiates between two kinds of jnana: one it calls knowledge that comes from Agama texts, and another it calls Viveka (insight). The Shaktism literature then adds that both lead to the knowledge of Brahman, but the first one is in the form of sound (Shabdabrahman), while the insight from within is the ultimate truth (Para Brahman).

Some Shakta texts, such as the Sita Upanishad, combine yoga of action and knowledge as a path to liberation. The Devi Gita, a classic text of Shaktism, dedicates chapter 4 to Jnana yoga, stating that a Jnana yogi understands and realizes that there is no difference between the individual soul and herself as the supreme Self. The discussion of Jnana yoga continues through the later chapters of the Devi Gita.

Techniques of Jnana yoga

Talking about the technique of jnana yoga is not very serious. Because, well, there is no technique. There is no real technique. After hearing the truth, the only thing you can do, is stop. You know whatever you do is untrue. Only by stopping, by shutting up, stop the wondering, stopping to ask questions, stopping to try anything – the inner self can come forward. So to stop is not a verb, it’s something that can’t be done. You have to stop doing. That’s the technique, if you could call it a technique.

Easy to try. Put your attention in the third eye, and stop. That’s simply being. Nothing more, nothing less. Be. To be that which you truly are. The more you do that, the more you will really feel that you are that, the more that you will really act as if you are that, the more you will be that, and the less problems you will have. Just stop as much as you can.

Upanishads’ seven stages of Jnana yoga?

To feel one with a definitive truth isn’t a simple task. When you traverse obstacles and difficulties, will you reach? Have a look at the seven stages recommended by the Upanishads.


The Subheccha is a stage of Jnana yoga. A professional must long to discover the reality. What’s more, to do that, you should contemplate different sacred texts, learn under the direction of a master, and examine with similarly invested individuals. Traveling, watching, and thinking about significant encounters will clear your approach to self-acknowledgment.


Once you get the required knowledge, the expert must question and ask about it. The practitioner must search into the nitty-gritty of it and understand its true meaning. He must verify his knowledge of himself and reflect on his existence, past life, and future by meditating.


All the study, learning, and meditation will open the path for the practitioner, and he now understands what he has to do to achieve oneness with the fact. In this stage, nothing should hold him. He should use his judgment to concentrate on his soul and go forward without any worldly desires disturbing him.


During the time of deep focus, the psyche gets pure. Want and bluntness drop your thoughts, and you observe your way to acknowledgment with transparency. There is no place for illusion in this stage. The mind only sees reality.


The pure truth makes you withdrawn and sacrificial. You turn inward and find pure well-being there. Your environment and activities don’t influence you any longer, and you move through the area of the illusionary world.

Padartha Bhavana

When the illusion of an imaginary world collapse, you will see reality. You will see things as they are and not what you imagine. Here you are involved in self and realize that your soul is the only true aspect.


Here, you consider yourself to be unified with unique vitality. You understand the genuine condition of self and discover freedom in the way that all are unified with superior vitality and not separate elements.

Hinduism: The Four Paths of Yoga
4 Paths of Yoga: One Among Them is Jnana Yoga

How to practice Jnana yoga?

  • Sit over a yoga mat and make yourself comfortable. You can also sit in a cross-legged position like Sukhasana or in the Ardha Padmasana position. Keep your legs crossed on the mat to form Ardha Padmasana.
  • Now extend your legs straight forward of you and then flex your right knee. Lift the leg using the right hand and keep it over the outer side of the left thigh.
  • Flex your left knee and keep it opposite to another leg. You may also try to sit in the Padmasana pose.
  • You can also sit over the yoga mat in crossed leg pose and extend your legs straight in the front direction. Bend the right leg at your knee and then lift it upward by using the right hand and keeping it on the outer side to the left thigh. Now flex your left knee and keep it on out of your right thigh using the left hand.
  • Vajrasana is another pose, in which you sit over the yoga mat.
  • Stoop down on the floor to make the upper portion of feet reach the ground. You can put your hands on your knees.

Furthermore practices of Jnana yoga

  • When you have accomplished a comfortable position, close your eyes, and attempt to focus on your relaxation. Breathe in and breathe out profoundly and proceed with it for quite a while.
  • Completely focus on your breathing and free your body from the thought, surroundings, interests, and feelings. Make an effort to avoid thinking. Keep away all the thoughts from your brain.
  • Once you remove all thoughts and get relaxed, your brain will be calm and away from all sounds and disturbances from your surroundings. It is your beginning for Jnana yoga meditation.
  • Jnana yoga makes you aware of the true self. You can ask yourself questions and try to know the answers from the inner self. It also helps to know more about yourself and understand the true you.
  • This yoga is about knowing and searching for your true inner feelings. You will understand yourself better after this yoga.
  • Try to find fasts in yourself. Focus on the question at one time and answer with questions and move to next.
  • You have to stay in Jnana yoga meditative pose for as much as you feel comfortable. The practice will help to concentrate on your inner self and become relaxed and calm. As you reach the final stage of meditation, you can end the session.
  • As you end the session, remember a few things. Do not open your eyes quickly after doing meditation. Instead, you can try palming. Do it with closed eyes. Rub your palms together, which creates heat and warmth. Place your warm palms on your eyes, then open your eyes slowly. Release your sitting pose, and it’s done.

Jnana yoga Benefits

Ancient Vedic writing mention that yoga refers to four ways out of which Jnana yoga is thought to be the most complex and challenging one. A practitioner of Jnana yoga requires acquiring more intellectual prowess and willpower to discipline your mind and transform it into different habits and thoughts.

Jnana practitioner uses different mental methods to attain this self-knowledge that is about delving deep into the duty of mind and directing self-questioning sessions.

Think of keeping yourself in front of the mirror and analyzing your self-image. It is about how do you feel yourself? How will you interpret your knowledge and appearance? Judge your decisions and thoughts before questioning others.

You can try doing Jnana yoga in a customized way. Deep meditation is one of the primary requirements of Jnana yoga. This yoga path requires to follow four pillars and seven stages. You will need a particular location or place to practice Jnana yoga. Find a peaceful place to perform this yoga. Here are the benefits of Jnana yoga:

Relief from Stress and Depression

You can prevent scattered energy in yourself by doing breathing and meditation. Your whole focus is on the inner self, removing the temptations and guide ness for the outer world. It helps to pay attention to things and the qualities of nature. It also enables you to stay positive. Jnana yoga practice benefits by reducing worldly stress and depression by systematic approach from 4 pillars and self-awareness stages.

Liberate from Selfishness and Ego

As you learn about yourself, your way of liberation from sick behavior gets you closer to conscience. It helps to make you understand that you are one part of this whole universe, like every being. Therefore, your aim to leave selfishness and ego grows sharper. As a result, you treat every creature with a huge feeling of oneness.

Increase decision-making Ability

Jnana yoga techniques of meditations make you become a wise decision-maker, which is helpful for everyone around you or people affected by the judgment.

Emotional control

Understanding the reality of how your emotional underflow or overflow can influence others, including you, you show signs of improvement hold of your feelings through a habitual act of Jnana yoga. As this Yogic Path includes a rundown of stages and pillars that utilizations precise and successive strategies to influence your conduct and feelings, you can without much of a stretch figure out how to communicate your sentiments at the opportune time and right spot to the perfect individual.

Better problem-solving capability

 Addressing why, what, and how of a specific situation, you can come at all the potential solutions of an issue you face.

Differentiation In Good and Bad

Jnana Yoga Meditation Techniques bless you with the capacity to isolate the waste from the wheat. This standard likewise applies while deciding, perceiving individuals and their intentions, and even day-by-day life dilemmatic circumstances.

Closeness to the Divine

As this yogic practice is more willing to enlightenment and spirituality, the techniques of your practice during Jnana yoga and meditation are divine and healthy. These characteristics conform to the ones chosen by ancient practitioners such as Tapasvis and yogis to connect with the supreme power, universe creator, and the divine. From selfless acts and meditation taught through Jnana yoga, you combine habits and godly traits that help to get closer to the divine.

Frequently asked questions

Before posting your query, kindly go through them:

What is the meaning of Jnana yoga?

Jnana literally means ‘knowledge’, but in the context of yoga, it means the process of meditative awareness which leads to illuminative wisdom. It is not a method by which we try to find rational answers to eternal questions, rather it is a part of meditation leading to self-inquiry and self-realization.

What Bhagavad Gita says about Jnana yoga?

In the Bhagavad Gita, Jnana yoga is also referred to as Buddhi yoga and its goal is self-realization. The text considers Jnana marga as the most difficult, slow, confusing for those who prefer it because it deals with “formless reality”, the avyakta. It is the path that intellectually oriented people tend to prefer.

How does Jnana yoga help relieve stress and depression?

You can prevent scattered energy in yourself by doing breathing and meditation. Your whole focus is on the inner self, removing the temptations and guide ness for the outer world. It helps to pay attention to things and the qualities of nature. It also enables you to stay positive. Jnana yoga practice benefits by reducing worldly stress by systematic approach from 4 pillars and self-awareness stages.



Related Posts


  1. ज्ञान और स्वयं की जानकारी प्राप्त करने को ज्ञान योग कहते है। ये अपनी और अपने परिवेश को अनुभव करने के माध्यम से समझना है। स्वामी विवेकानन्द जी ने ज्ञानयोग सम्बन्धित व्याख्यान, उपदेशों तथा लेखों को लिपिबद्ध कर ‘ज्ञानयोग’ पुस्तक में संकलित किया है। ज्ञान के माध्यम से ईश्वरीय स्वरूप का ज्ञान, वास्तविक सत्य का ज्ञान ही ज्ञानयोग का लक्ष्य है। स्वामी विवेकानंद द्वारा रचित ज्ञानयोग वेदांत के अंतर्गत सत्यों को बताकर वेदांत के सार रूप में प्रस्तुत है।

    एक रूप में ज्ञानयोगी व्यक्ति ज्ञान द्वारा ईश्वरप्राप्ति मार्ग में प्रेरित होता है। स्वामी विवेकानंद द्वारा रचित ज्ञानयोग में मायावाद,मनुष्य का यथार्थ व प्रकृत स्वरूप,माया और मुक्ति, ब्रह्म और जगत, अंतर्जगत, बहिर्जगत, बहुतत्व में एकत्व, ब्रम्ह दर्शन, आत्मा का मुक्त स्वभाव आदि नामों से उनके द्वारा दिये भाषणों का संकलन है।

    अब यदि विश्लेषण किया जाये तो वास्तव में ज्ञान योगी मायावाद के असल तत्व को जानकर,अपनी वास्तविकता और वेदांत के अद्वैत मत के अनुरूप आत्मा के वास्तविक स्वरूप को जानकर मुक्ति प्राप्त करता है।

    ज्ञान योग के चार सिद्धांत हैं :

    विवेक-गुण-दोष का अन्तर कर पाना।

    वैराग्य-त्याग, आत्म त्याग, संन्यास।

    षट संपत्ति-छ: कोष, संपत्तियां।

    मुमुक्षत्व-ईश्वर प्राप्ति के लिए निरन्तर प्रयास।

    ज्ञान योग के साधनों को करने के लिए सबसे पहले शरीर, मन और इन्द्रियों को वश में करना। मन को विषयों से हटाना और ईश्वर तथा आत्मा पर ध्यान केंद्रित करना चाहिए। यह हमें ज्ञात होना चाहिए कि हमारे इस शरीर में व्याप्त शक्ति है जो आत्म-ज्ञान हासिल करने में हमारी मदद करती है।

    ज्ञान योग से संबंधित जानकारी प्रस्तुत करने हेतु आपका धन्यवाद…

    1. Rightly said, Saheb! However, I would like to mention here that knowledge has no limit and humans have no age limit to acquiring it. We keep n gaining knowledge till the last breath of our life. In short, we can say that life is ‘kshanbhangoor’ for acquiring jnana.

  2. Jnana or Gyan or Knowledge explained here is well explained and useful for every one of us. The unique thing about this article is its easy to understand. May God bless you and always give a strength to write more such beautiful articles. Thank you very much for sharing and keep us always updated.

    1. Nice to have such beautiful words, Madam. Having knowledge of each and everything is a must. However, the whole life spent in learning and acquiring knowledge. As explained in the article, moksha (salvation) is feasible with jnana yoga. I shall surely keep posting useful articles in the future, too. Please avail of the benefits wherever and whenever feasible. Please stay tuned and take care!!

Comments are closed.