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Yoga: The Many Paths for Self-Realisation

Yoga is a practice to obtain clarity of mind. There are several types yoga, each with a different approach and method, but ultimately they all lead to the same, moska or kaivalya, liberation or freedom from bondage. The Bhagavad Gita, one of the greatest text on yoga from c.a. 400 BCE, Sri Krishna teaches Arjuna three paths of yoga that lead to understanding our true reality. Although there are more yoga paths, we will discuss the following types of yoga: Karma Yoga (the yoga of action), Bhakti Yoga (the yoga of devotion), Jñāna Yoga (the yoga of knowledge), Rāja Yoga (Integral yoga; also known as Ashtanga Yoga or Patanjali Yoga), Haṭha Yoga (Psycho-physical Yoga techniques)

Jñāna Yoga (Yoga of Meditation)

This is the Yoga of Knowledge or Wisdom being one of the more difficult and important paths, requiring a lot of willpower and intellect.

It points directly to the goal, which is self-knowledge. If the fundamental problem of the human being is ignorance about the real nature of being, the solution is knowledge about this subject. Using the power of the Vedas as pramana (medium of knowledge), the Jñana Yogi uses his mind to question on its nature. The śisya (student) will begin listen to the words of the guru, who explains the ancient teachings of the scriptures in the traditional form of gurukula. After receiving the wisdom, the student will then contemplate on these teachings. The seeker will have to sit with these words and, using the mind and its instrument, contemplate on the words heard. This will allow the true knowledge that is packed within to be revealed. With the contemplation of the words, the student starts to assimilate words and this will lead the seeker to inner silence filled with knowledge. Through meditation, the student will contemplate on his/her own nature. Jnana Yoga leads the devotee to the experience of his oneness with cosmic Intelligence directly, through the discernment (viveka) of a prepared mind, which is the most precious possession of one who follows Jnana Yoga.

The jnanis follow mostly the Advaita Vedanta path, though monistic Shaivism and monistic Shaktism are also to be accounted in the tradition. Its Vedic literature includes Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, Brahma Sutras as well as some shorter texts such as Vivekacudamani, Yoga Vasistha or Astavakra Samhita. Ramana Maharshi, Swami Vivekananda, Swami Sivananda, Swami Chinmayananda or Swami Dayananda Sarasvati as the modern references.

Before practicing Jnana Yoga, the aspirant must have integrated the lessons of the other yogic paths.