Why Jnana-Yoga Alone Is Means to Moksha (110)

Why Jnana-Yoga Alone Is Means To Removing Ignorance "I" (Atman)


Lesson 110 speaks about what is healthy thinking, proper way of thinking. Shows logically why only self-knowledge has power to enlighten the ignorant mind. And what is means to dedicate actions to the Lord.

Source: Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 12, Verse 5, 6.

Context of B.Gita (to give context to CH 12):

  • What we want behind all things is fulfillment.
    • Because we can't hold onto it, we (1) want more of it (2) want something different.
    • But if fundamental/existential Q is not answered, then no things can satisfy you.
  • Hence Arjuna addresses in beginning of Gita, (1) What's facing him (2) Truth of everything.
    • Common method: Either focus on 1 or 2.
    • Real spirituality: Every question is considered.
  • Meaning both aspects need to be inquired upon / thought into.
  • Healthy thinking involves 2 aspects of the mind:
    1. Some people try to be rational 100% of time. Cognitive (prefrontal cortex).
    2. Some people act out of emotion only.
  • For lasting transformation in any subject matter, you must incorporate the 2 aspects in thinking.
      • If only use cognitive, then subject matter (EG: physics) won't make a difference because it hasn’t touched you emotionally.
      • Reason why “Emotional Intelligence” books are popular. They're acknowledging the importance of emotional involvement.
  • Thinking (emotional/intellectual) can go in 2 directions:
    1. Introverted. The very thinker is put in the spotlight.
      • EG: Arjuna never asked a single question in 700 verses “Why did Duryodhana do X!”.
      • All questions were about “Why do I feel like this, and how do I see things properly”.
    2. Extroverted. Mostly thinking about others (thinker remains safe).
      • 2 Ways To Think About Others:
        • Improper: Thinking about others to appear like you’re a good, caring, compassionate person. Meaning agenda is saving face. Protecting my façade.
          • Externally composed. Internally disbalanced.
          • Reinforces likes-dislikes, thus sense of individuality.
        • Proper: What consequences will THIS have on others.
  • In reference to growth, how do we apply thinking? It’s outlined in CH12 using 5 different level of sādhanās.
  • In Verse 3-5, Krishna starts with highest yoga called nirguṇa-bhakti (and per verses called akṣara-upāsana).
  • What is nirguna-bhakti?
    • Meditation upon oneself as the Truth of everything. While not negating relativity.
      • EG: Pot acknowledges it’s relatively useful form “pot”, while always knowing it’s reality is the Clay.
      • Therefore in nirguna-bhakti (jñāna-yoga), when the POT meditates, it’s not turning CLAY into another object within it’s mind, but understands that in the presence of Clay, inquiry is possible.
        • Meaning wherever there is POT, there is CLAY. Wherever there is inquiry, there is CLAY. Etc.
      • In respect to jnana-yoga, meditation/inquiry means: śravaṇa, manana, nididhyāsana.
      • Result these 3 stages is freedom which is expressed as general contentment in relation to everything.
        • EG: Professional diver (owing to his knowledge of diving) enjoys level of freedom jumping out of a sinking boat into the ocean of saṃsāra. While beginner is hesitant/afraid.

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 12, Verse 5:

kleśaḥ adhikataraḥ teṣām avyakta-āsakta-cetasām ॥
avyaktā hi gatiḥ duḥkham dehavadbhiḥ avāpyate ॥ 12-5
Difficulties are more for those people whose minds are committed to (the pursuit of) the unmanifest (Brahman), for the goal of unmanifest (Brahman) is attained with difficulty by the people of bodily attachment.

  • Krishna is pointing out that both paths pose challenges to the bhakta. EG: Regarding saguṇa-bhakti:
    • KARMA-YOGA: (L2)
      • To practice, it implies being conscious of each action, and taking full responsibility for each thought, word, action.
        • Meaning person is required to put universal ethics (dharma) ABOVE own likes/dislikes.
        • This makes bhakta lose some freedom of expression, because knows even though rāga/dveṣa fulfillment is pleasurable, it causes spiritual stagnation.
        • Thus needs to sacrifice certain entitlements in name of abiding by the universal order (dharma, cause-effect) for sake of punya-karma.
    • UPASNA-YOGA: (L1 & 2)
      • L1: Keeping focus on any one object in mind, for extended period, is challenging. It’s fluid in nature.
      • L2: Meditating on viśva-rūpa, one may feel “I’m missing out”. Because majority of Creation remains unknown to the meditator.
  • If saguṇa-bhakti poses challenges, then what about formless nirguṇa-bhakti where there’s nothing to grab onto?…
  • Krishna says, kleśaḥ adhikataraḥ teṣām avyakta-āsakta-cetasām: Meaning nirguṇa-bhakti (jñāna-yoga) is most difficult to reach, owning to firm attachment to the physical body (meaning: sūkṣma & sthūla-śarīra).
    • REASON 1:
      • Obsessed with sustaining comforts/security of body-mind instrument, due to past habits.
        • Attachment further reinforced by various relationships which the body gets associated to. Because relating requires individuality, so I can relate to other individuals.
      • Consequence of strong individuality is, individual is accustomed to grossifying everything (whether subtle/gross). Thus bhakta is unable to effortlessly RELATE to formless Consciousness (Imperceptible, Inconceivable, Indescribable)
        • Only way to RELATE is to turn the attributeless Reality into subtle object of knowledge (in the brain).
          • EG: Article reads “Harvard Scientists Think They've Pinpointed The Physical Source of Consciousness”.
      • Why specifically can’t a bhakta easily relate to formless Consciousness (Brahman)? Because this very Reality is myself. You can’t accomplish your existence, because you already exist.
        • EG: In other words, “Because I AM, everything gets objectified”. Because tongue IS, everything gets tasted. Therefore tongue can only know itself in reference to the presence of taste.
          • Similarly, “I” can only know myself as Brahman, in reference to ongoing tastes in life.
      • What is SOLUTION to strong association to body:
        • Whenever think of body, remind yourself that everything belongs to Ishvara. Body is not mine. It’s silly/childish being obsessed over property I don’t own.
    • REASON 2:
      • Bhakta lacks necessary qualifications, especially viveka / vairāgyam. Discussed heavily in CH13.
    • REASON 3:
      • Even if you understand the śāstric teaching, old deep patterns overwhelm the knowledge.
        • EG: One knows that all people should be given some level of patience and compassion, yet STILL impatience and negligence comes. It just comes out.
          • How to handle this “Coming out”?
    • Saguna-dhyānam: Requires unshakable faith.
    • Nirguṇa-dhyānam (jnana-yoga): Requires subtle viveka and strong detachment (vairāgyam).
    • Both are improbable if bhakta is preoccupied with body, comforts, objects, beings.
  • If jnana-yoga is difficult, what is the SOLUTION?
    • WRONG ANSWER: Try alternative paths to attain liberation. EG: Karma/Raja/Kundalini/Kriya-Yoga, have guru touch your head.
    • CORRECT ANSWER: Vedas says clearly: Jnana-Yoga alone leads aspirant to freedom.
      • Logic for above statement: There is only ONE Reality. I AM already that, right now. But think I AM not, owning to superimposition of body-mind attributes over ātmā.
        • This is called: Ignorance of my true nature.
      • What is the only principle that opposes ignorance? Knowledge which sheds light on the ignorance, thus removing it.
        • EG: To illumine a dark room, will yoga-asana, vipassana, meditation, chanting Vishnu sahasranama – light-up the room? Only light alone can illumine it.
      • In same way, knowledge of self (atma) alone can liberate. In Ātma Bodha, Adi Shankara confirms this.
        • Meaning knowledge MUST be specific to “I AM” – to erase notions which oppose the Reality of self.
          • If knowledge is about advanced pranayama, it doesn’t touch the ignorant foundation which pranayama depends on.
      • What else tells us knowledge is the only solution?
        • Arjuna asked for liberation in the most inconvenient place, battlefield.
        • Wouldn’t Krishna then use a shortcut, because DISCOURSE is the MOST UNWELCOME OPTION on the battlefield.
  • Suppose aspirant affirms jnana-yoga is the highest rung of the spiritual ladder, what if you simply don’t relate to it? There’s a distance / resistance.
    • Common signs of resisting jnana-yoga:
      • This is too intellectual.
      • I don’t need to know all this.
      • I’m a simple man.
      • I’ve heard this before.
      • Where’s the proof?
      • Scriptures are outdated.
      • Make jnana-yoga easy. How? Develop qualification obtained in 4th level: Upāsana-yoga (L2), in verse 6-8.

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 12, Verse 6 & 7 (Combined):

ye tu sarvāṇi karmāṇi mayi saṃnyasya mat-parāḥ ।
ananyena eva yogena mām dhyāyantaḥ upāsate ॥ 12-6

teṣām aham samuddhartā mṛtyu-saṃsāra-sāgarāt ।
bhavāmi na cirāt pārtha mayi āveśita-cetasām ॥ 12-7
(verse 6) Keeping Me as the primary goal and dedicating all actions unto Me, some devotees worship, meditating upon Me with undivided attention. (verse 7) For them, whose minds are set on me, I shall soon become the saviour from the ocean of samsāra which is beset with death, Oh Arjuna!

  • In Verse 6-8, Krishna comes down to Level 4 sadhana (Upāsana Yoga – Level 2). Nirguna-bhakti > saguna-bhakti.
  • What is Upasana Yoga – Level 2?
    • ye tu sarvāṇi karmāṇi mayi saṃnyasya: Dedicating your actions to viśva-rūpa-īśvara, also called virāt (Īśvara’s total physical body, consisting of gross/subtle matter).
      • Dedicating actions, means:
        • Every action is for sake of the ultimate end, knowing myself as One with the Whole.
          • EG: If goal is to cook a meal, then in-between actions like (filling water, cutting vegies, cleaning sink) are all subsidiaries connected to the main goal (meal).
        • Whenever performing any action, it’s not done for sake of raga-dvesha, but for sake of conforming to dharma, and avoiding adharma. While simultaneously recognizing Īśvara as the one who sets these laws. And also provides their consequences.
          • This is called meditating upon saguna-ishvara. Keeping God in mind in-and-through mundane activities.
        • You know the action and the fruit of it are coordinated by the Lord’s hands (which represent Law of Karma).
    • What does it mean to say “dedicate your actions”? What does it look like in practice?
      • Dedication is an attitude: My boundary of control ends once undertaking is applied. Therefrom, it’s entwined and mixed with other actions also. All tracked by the grand order.
        • Meaning results of my actions will be accordingly shaped by law of karma (cause-effect), which is governed by Ishvara’s all-knowledge-power.
        • Therefore you mentally prepare yourself to accept whatever consequences come back. Take accountability for them.
        • In short: Karma-phalam comes from Ishvara’s grand order. So how can you NOT think of Bigger Picture, because when are you NOT receiving something.
      • SUMMARY: Dedicating actions to Lord means: Whatever you undertake and whatever results you receive, is only possible because of the grand order (which you didn’t setup).
        • In fact, we’re born into a ready-made world.
  • With what mindset to practice UY L2?
    • ananyena eva yogena: refusing to get too distracted. Refusing to give all power away to ongoing attention seeking events. If do so, danger of losing motivation then justifying a new path. (Path hopping).
      • EG: Train goes from A to B. Stops in-between are incidental. But inner sight always on “Get back on the train”.


Keywords: dvesa, dvesha, nididhyasana, raga, sarira, sharira, shravana, sukshma, suksma, vairagya, vishvarupa, visva-rupa

Credit for help in Bhagavad Gita teaching given to Swami Dayananda (Arsha Vidya), Paramarthananda & Chinmaya Mission.

Recorded 26 Jan, 2021


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