6 Challenges in Jnana Yoga- What is Bhakti

Bhakti And Jnana Yoga

What is Yoga

The word Yoga sounds similar to the English word “yoke” which means to join or attach.

The context of this attachment relates to the soul.

Yoga thus means connecting the soul, or Jiva back to the source.

Paramatma (परमात्मा) or the super soul represents the source.

The process of communion of individual consciousness with the Absolute or super-consciousness is Yoga. 

Bhakti Yoga and Jnana Yoga

One recognizes the Paramatma and sees the individual spirit different from the super soul.

Thus he establishes a relationship with Paramatma.

This relationship defines the purport of Bhakti Yoga.

When one sees perfect oneness and cannot tell the individual self different from the Supreme-Self, that realization defines the purport of Jnana Yoga.

Here, through intense study and deep observation one knocks down the wall between Individual self and the Super Self.

The Bhakta ensures separate identity

Vedanta normally conforms to the latter approach.

However the follower of Bhakti does not want the separation between his Self and the Supreme to dissolve.

Such dissolution, for a Bhakta is like committing suicide.

He wants to enjoy the communion of relationship with the Supreme.

Thus a Bhakta maintains himself as “laghu” (लघु) or the small one and the Lord or the Supreme Self as “Vibhu” (विभु) or the mighty one.

Requirements for Jnana Yoga

One’s intellect is weak and corruptible in Kali Yuga or the Iron Age.

Spiritual possibilities inside the modern man remains limited.

One’s mind is easily corruptible and one does not have the capacity to side with truth.

In such cases, one becomes a slave of the flimsy mind.

Such a person shall resort to a life of convenience rather than siding with that which is appropriate and in line with Vedic scriptures.

For a follower of Jnana Yoga, the path of intellect and wisdom, the standard of the practitioner has to be exceptionally high.

The practitioner should have intense dispassion and should be unattached with the ways of the world.

He should have no interest in the matters concerning the senses and should have overcome lust in its entirety.

Unless the person has an incorruptible exceptional character, for him, following the path of Jnana Yoga shall remain tough.

To see God in oneself and to see oneself as the spirit is a colossal undertaking.

Dangers beset the Jnana Yogi

Challenges start arising right from the word go, for a Jnana Yogi.

As one starts reading Vedanta and takes up meditation, Maya, the illusive power of the Supreme Being begins her delusive work.

The so-called practitioner shall start experiencing growing confidence.

This confidence does not come because of knowledge.

It arises from the depths of the heart, that remains sullied with undetected ignorance.

Unfortunately the practitioner, considers these symptoms as genuine and feels that he is growing in knowledge.

In fact, it is quite the contrary.

Yet at some point Bhakti and Jnana have a common Goal.

Ignorance and Arrogance – Difficult to handle

The Scriptures warn us thus: “Poison emerges first from the ocean.

Nectar only appears in the end.”

This poison of arrogance results with the churning of inner muck that masquerades as high-quality knowledge.

Such so-called knowledge takes the practitioner astray.

This egoic tendency has no cure whatsoever.

How can the man in a pit hold the rope of Vedanta and come out of the pit by himself?

Without a Guru holding the rope at the other end, outside the pit, how can one save oneself?

One needs to fulfil some requirements for one to take up Jnana Yoga as the means to reach enlightenment

One should have no body-attachment

First, a person practising Jnana yoga should naturally be unattached to his body.

On this condition itself 99 out of 100 people are out of the race.

Next, one should be free of all other interests other than the subject of  Brahman, the source of all life.

Control on the Senses and Truth

The practitioner should be exceptional in his qualities of humility.

He should have complete control over his senses.

The practitioner should only seek Truth with absolute disinterest in worldly matters.

He should have the capacity to reject that which is false; that which is against inner conscience.

Should be guided by a perfect Jnani

He cannot make any progress unless guided by a strict and perfectly enlightened spiritual master.

The spiritual master should have a command on the Vedic scriptures

The Master should be able to elucidate the scriptures relating to the Upasana Kand (उपासना कांड) of the Vedic scriptures.

Upasana Kand focuses on the nature of the Ultimate Reality.

It also focuses on the means to attain it as part of the Vedantic teachings within the 4 Vedas.

The Guru should also have an in-depth and practical understanding of the Bhagavad Gita.

Motive free relationship between Guru and Disciple

The relationship between such a practitioner and the spiritual master should be based on mutual love for Truth.

Their relationship should be above all worldly motives.

The spirit of sacrifice and surrender should define the relationship between Guru and disciple.

Other than spiritual perfection, there should be no area of interest common to both the Guru and disciple.

The spiritual master should be able to get a complete hold on the practitioner and the practitioner should have complete faith on the spiritual master.

Jnana Yoga is the Path of utter sincerity

Jnana Yoga means the path of inquiry.

The inquiry is towards of understanding one’s inner nature.

This can only give results, only if one is blatant, on the path of truth.

It is like walking on the edge of a sharp razor.

Without purity in intention and action, one cannot pursue the path of Jnana.

What does the path of Jnana prescribe?

A true Jnani wants to end the duality of the mind.

The Jnani tries to go to the root of all questions that arise on the lake of the mind.

Karma causes ripples in the mind.

Thoughts and emotions constitute the primary stimulants of Karma.

The Jnani needs to be steadfast in his practices.

He continues to execute his duties with a contemplative mind-set.

His duty should be to find answers to his questions through the teachings of the Vedanta.

He should also employ well, the meditative means.

The goal of meditation is to sharpen the intellect.

Logical by nature, a Jnani uses rational means to get to the Truth.

A Bhakta on the other hand uses emotion towards the Supreme to get to the Truth.

The current times are unsuitable for the practice of Jnana as authentic means to get established in Truth.

On the other hand Bhakti is more conducive for the current age.