What is Yoga Jnana? Beginner’s Guide

What is Yoga Jnana? Beginner's Guide
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What is Yoga Jnana? Beginner's Guide

Have you ever wondered what Yoga Jnana is? This type of yoga is a spiritual practice that focuses on the true knowledge or understanding of the ultimate reality. In this beginner’s guide, we will discuss the history and philosophy of Jnana Yoga, as well as some tips for getting started. If you are interested in learning more about this ancient practice, keep reading!

What is Yoga Jnana?

Yoga Jnana is based on the teachings of the Advaita Vedanta school of Hindu philosophy and emphasizes self-realization through study and contemplation. The goal is to still the mind and achieve liberation from the cycle of birth and death.

Those practicing Jnana Yoga believe that the mind is the most important tool for achieving inner peace and enlightenment.

As such, they focus on techniques such as meditation and mantra recitation to still the mind and bring about a state of Jnana, or knowledge.

Jnana Yoga practice also places emphasis on self-study and inquiry, helping yogis to develop a deep understanding of their true nature. Those who practice Jnana Yoga may experience improved mental clarity and focus, increased self-awareness, and deeper insight into the inner self the supreme self and they may even have less of a desire for worldly possessions.

What are Jnana Yoga basic concepts?

The ultimate goal of Jnana Yoga is to experience the unity of all things and to realize one’s true nature as pure consciousness.

Jnana Yoga is one of the oldest types of yoga. Based on yoga philosophy, it follows the belief that the path to enlightenment comes through knowledge and understanding.

Those who practice Jnana Yoga focus on self-inquiry and the study of sacred texts as a way to gain knowledge of the absolute truth. Jnana Yoga is sometimes called “the path of wisdom” because it emphasizes intellectual development and self-analysis.

The basic concepts of Jnana Yoga "The belief that the path to enlightenment comes through knowledge and understanding"

What is the main aim of Jnana Yoga?

The main aim of Jnana Yoga is to promote self-knowledge and understanding and to achieve liberation from the cycle of rebirth. Jnana Yogis believe that the path to enlightenment lies within each individual, and that true wisdom can only be attained through direct experience.

The core practices of Jnana Yoga involve simple living, contemplation, and study as means of achieving self-realization.

Jnana Yoga is a yoga style that has influenced many other schools of thought, and its teachings continue to resonate with people around the world.

What are the four pillars of Jnana Yoga?

Jnana Yoga consists of four pillars: right understanding, right thinking, right speech, and right conduct. These pillars help practitioners to develop discrimination and detachment from the phenomenal world.

Those who practice Jnana Yoga can purify their minds and hearts, eventually achieving liberation from all suffering.

The four pillars of Jnana Yoga (Right understanding, right thinking, right speech and right conduct)

What are the benefits of Yoga Jnana?

The main benefit of Jnana Yoga is that it can help to quiet the mind and develop concentration so that practitioners can more easily access their inner wisdom and find their spiritual path.

In addition to gaining experiential knowledge, those practicing Jnana Yoga also understand their own nature and learn to see the world around them more clearly (and this does not mean relying on their sense organs).

As a result, they are better able to navigate life’s challenges with compassion and clarity.

How Do You Practice Jnana Yoga?

Jnana practitioners practice meditation and pranayama in order to still the mind and develop one-pointed concentration. As part of their spiritual practice, they also study religious texts and philosophies in order to deepen their understanding of the true nature of reality.

The goal of Jnana Yoga is to transcend the illusions of the mind and to experience the true nature of reality.

It may be clear by now that this type of yoga is not about physical postures or breathing techniques like Hatha yoga, but rather about mental practices and spiritual liberation.

To give you an idea of what the yogic path of Jnana Yoga entails, Chopra.com lists a few of the practices a Jnana yogi may follow, with some being:

  • Studies the spiritual texts
  • Reads the words of the Great Masters
  • Meditates and takes time each day to be silent
Someone reading a Sanskrit book

Who is the founder of Jnana Yoga?

The founder of Jnana Yoga is unknown, but it is thought to date back to the Upanishads, a collection of ancient Indian texts.

Jnana Yoga’s teachings state that all beings are essentially divine and that the goal of life is to realize this truth. Through the study and contemplation of sacred texts, Jnana Yogis hope to gain insight into the nature of reality and come to a state of liberation from the cycle of birth and death.

The four paths of yoga

The Four Paths of Yoga

The Bhagavad Gita is considered to be a sacred Hindu scripture and an infallible guide of daily practice. It involves the dialogue between Lord Krishna and Arjuna in the epic Mahabharat (as seen in the image below).

And so in the Bhagavad Gita Lord Krishna tells Arjuna about four paths of God-realization.

The four paths of Yoga are:

  1. Service and sacrifice (Karma Yoga)
  2. Devotion and self-surrender (Bhakti Yoga)
  3. Concentration and meditation (Raja Yoga)
  4. Discrimination and wisdom (Jnana Yoga).

One path does not exclude the others and so a practitioner can follow any of them.

Image by Mahavir Prasad Mishra, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

What is the difference between Jnana and Raja Yoga?

Jnana Yoga often called the “yoga of knowledge,” is a path that emphasizes self-realization and introspection. Raja Yoga, on the other hand, is often called “royal yoga.” It is a path that emphasizes mastery of the body and the mind.

Jnana yogis believe that the ultimate goal of yoga is to still the mind and experience true bliss. To achieve this, Jnana yogis focus on study and contemplation. They also practice Discrimination (Viveka), which is the ability to see the difference between the real and the unreal.

Raja yogis believe that by gaining control over their thoughts and emotions, they can achieve inner peace. To achieve this, Raja yogis focus on breathing exercises (pranayama), meditation, and physical postures (asanas).

Jnana Yoga and Raja Yoga are both valid paths to self-realization. It is up to each individual to decide which path is right for them.

Page from a dictionary explaining what karma means "the whole ethical consequence of one's acts"

What is the difference between Jnana and Karma Yoga?

Jnana Yoga is the path of knowledge and self-realization, while Karma Yoga is the path of selfless action. Jnana Yoga emphasizes the study of spiritual texts and the development of wisdom, while those who practice Karma Yoga focus on service to others and helping those in need.

Jnana Yoga is often considered the more difficult path, as it requires a deep understanding of oneself and the world. Karma Yoga, on the other hand, is often seen as the more rewarding path, as it directly helps others.

Both practices are important paths that lead to different but equally valuable outcomes.

What is the difference between Jnana and Bhakti Yoga?

Both Jnana Yoga and Bhakti Yoga involve tapping into the divine wisdom within ourselves, but they take different approaches. Jnana Yoga, also known as the path of knowledge, emphasizes self-inquiry and intellectual study.

Bhakti Yoga, on the other hand, focuses on developing a personal relationship with the divine, often through devotional practices such as prayer and chanting.

Both paths can lead to a deep understanding of the true nature of reality, but they appeal to different types of people. Those who are drawn to Jnana Yoga tend to be more analytical and intellectual in their approach to life, while those who are drawn to Bhakti Yoga tend to be more emotional and devotional.

There is no right or wrong path – it simply depends on what resonates with each individual.

How do I get started with Yoga Jnana practice?

Yoga Jnana is a meditative and introspective practice that can be started through Yoga Nidra, which is a guided form of meditation. Yoga Nidra takes you on a journey within yourself, helping you to connect with your innermost being.

Through Yoga Nidra, you can access the deeper levels of your consciousness and connect with your true nature.

Yoga Jnana can also be practiced through pranayama, which is a type of breathwork. Pranayama helps to calm the mind and body, and it is an excellent way to prepare for meditation.

If you are a beginner, it is best to start with Yoga Nidra or pranayama. These practices will help you to slowly ease into the deeper aspects of this practice.

The 4 Pillars of Knowledge

There are four prescribed steps in Jnana Yoga known as the Four Pillars of Knowledge. These practices build upon one another in order to cultivate the spiritual insight required for this path:

  1. Viveka – being able to identify what is changing and what is non-changing.
  2. Vairagya – being able to experience release from desires
  3. Kshama – to first calm the mind
  4. Dama –  having a say/control over our senses.
image of old books
  1. Jnana Yoga by Swami Vivekananda
  2. The Yoga of Truth: Jnana: The Ancient Path of Silent Knowledge by Peter Marchand
  3. The Complete Book of Yoga by Swami Vivekananda

Any final tips for beginners who are just starting out with Yoga Jnana practice?”

Jnana Yoga is a powerful tool for self-transformation, but it is also a practice that requires time and commitment. For beginners who are just starting out, here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your practice:

1. Set realistic goals. It is not a quick fix for physical or mental problems. It is a journey of self-discovery that takes time and patience. Don’t expect to see results overnight; instead, focus on taking things one step at a time.

2. Find a teacher you resonate with. In order to get the most out of Yoga Jnana, it is important to find a teacher who you feel comfortable with and who understands your goals. This is not a one-size-fits-all practice, so don’t be afraid to shop around until you find a teacher that’s right for you.

3. Be patient with yourself. This practice is all about self-acceptance, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t progress as quickly as you’d like. Remember that this is a journey, not a race; take things at your own pace and enjoy the process.

Yoga practicing Jnana yoga


Yoga Jnana is a practice that can bring peace and clarity of mind to those who commit to it. It has many benefits, including improved mental and physical health.

What is Jnana yoga According to Vivekananda?

As Vivekananda writes, Jnana Yoga “is simply an inquiry into the nature of the Self; Jnana is opposed to ignorance.” Jnana yoga practitioners believe that through careful study and contemplation, we can gain a deep understanding of our true nature, and in turn, attain liberation.

Jnana yoga is considered by many to be one of the most difficult paths to follow, but also one of the most rewarding. For those who are dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge, Jnana yoga provides a lifelong journey of self-discovery and growth.

What are the 4 types of yogas?

Jnana Yoga, the yoga of knowledge, is based on the premise that the true nature of existence cannot be known through the senses or the mind. Jnana Yoga practitioners use discrimination and logic to analyze their thoughts and experiences, in order to transcend the ego and realize their true nature.

Bhakti Yoga, the yoga of love and devotion, is based on the principle that we are all expressions of the Divine, and that by cultivating love and devotion for God, we can realize our own divinity. Bhakti Yogis direct their emotions toward God, through practices such as prayer, chanting, and puja (worship).

Karma Yoga, the yoga of selfless service, is based on the principle that we are all connected, and that by helping others we help ourselves. Karma Yogis believe that by performing actions without attachment to their results, they can purify their consciousness and attain liberation. 

Raja Yoga, the royal yoga, is based on the practice of self-control and concentration, in order to still the fluctuations of the mind and attain inner peace. Raja Yogis use techniques such as meditation and pranayama (breath control) to still the mind and experience its true nature.

What are the 3 basic stages of Jnana Yoga?

Jnana Yoga is traditionally divided into three stages: Shravana, Manana, and Nididhyasana.

The first stage, Shravana, involves listening to the teachings of wise teachers and reading sacred texts.

The second stage, Manana, involves reflecting on these teachings and contemplating their deeper meaning.

The final stage, Nididhyasana, involves a complete forgetting of the ego and a merging with the Divine.

Although it is often seen as the most difficult path, Jnana Yoga can lead to true liberation.

What are the 8 stages of Raja Yoga?

The 8 stages of Raja yoga are: Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi.

The first stage is Yama, which consists of the practices of nonviolence, truthfulness, nonstealing, and continence.

The second stage is Niyama, which consists of the practices of cleanliness, contentment, austerity, and study.

The third stage is Asana, which is the practice of physical postures.

The fourth stage is Pranayama, which is the practice of breath control.

The fifth stage is Pratyahara, which is the practice of withdrawal of the senses from external objects.

The sixth stage is Dharana, which is the practice of concentration.

The seventh stage is Dhyana, which is the practice of meditation.

The eighth and final stage is Samadhi, which is the experience of enlightenment.

By following the eight stages of Raja Yoga, one can gradually purify the mind and attain inner peace.

What is the highest form of yoga?

The ultimate goal of yoga is to achieve union with the divine, although there are many different paths that can be followed to reach this goal.

What are the three types of Jnana according to Gita?

In the Bhagavad Gita, jnana is divided into three types: sattvic, rajasic, and tamasic.

Sattvic jnana is based on truth and knowledge and is characterized by detachment and compassion.

Rajasic jnana is based on action and ambition and is characterized by greed and desire.

Tamasic jnana is based on ignorance and delusion and is characterized by confusion and inertia.

Each of these types of jnana has its own strengths and weaknesses, but all three are necessary for the attainment of true wisdom. By understanding the nature of each type of jnana, we can learn to use them in the service of our spiritual growth.

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