According to ancient Vedic texts, there are four main paths of Yoga. Jnana Yoga is said to be the most difficult and complex amongst them. A jnana yoga follower needs to possess great will power and intellectual prowess to discipline the mind and transcend its varied thoughts and habits.Jnana Yoga is also known as the wisdom yoga. The principal goal of Jnana yogis is to attain liberation from this materialistic Maya world and merge with the superior inner self or the ‘Atman’. Followers of Jnana yoga practise various mental techniques such as delving deep into conscience mind and conducting self-questioning sessions.
There are four important pillars of awareness or knowledge such as the following:
o Viveka or Discrimination – It is an intellectual brain induced effort to differentiate between the permanent conscious world and the temporary materialistic world. Knowing the real from the unreal or the self (atman) from the body (physical) is the ultimate goal of yogis who follow the jnana path.
o Vairagya or Dispassion – It is again an effort by the brain to cultivate non-attachment towards the material objects and all temporary worldly possessions. According to JnanaYogis; it is only when the human mind becomes free from all kinds of attachments that the pathway to divine knowledge can be sought.
o Shatsampat or Six Virtues – They are a set of six mental exercises to steady the mind and its varied emotions. The Yogi focuses on the six fundamental virtues namely; shama (calmness), dama (control), uparati (renunciation), titiksha (forbearance), shraddha (faith) and samadana (focus).
o Mumukshutva or Longing – It is a very intense desire that develops inside a yogi’s mind to achieve the ultimate liberation from worldly suffering and attachments. To get divine liberation, the yogi has to be sincerely dedicated to the yogic path of jnana with fierce longing so that there is no room for any other desires.
It is not easy to grasp the complex intellectual approach towards the path of jnana yoga, without compromising the basic human nature of compassion and humility. Yogis often get lost or confused in entanglement of logical thinking and lose sight of the actual goal (Jnana) of divine oneness. Such difficult yogic practises can often lead to disastrous consequences such as emotional instability or mental trauma if not performed in the correct way. Therefore, it is advisable to practise jnana yoga techniques only under the guidance of a competent teacher or Guru.