What is the Science of Brahmavidya?

what is brahmavidya

Is attaining Jnana difficult?

Knowledge can never be completely attained by self-effort.

The Mundaka Upanishad, states that-

Knowledge was originally imparted in toto to the Rishis and the Divine beings.

Indeed, true knowledge can flow only through the descent of knowledge-current from the sages.

The ancient students possessed unparalleled perseverance to the ideal of Knowledge or Jnana.

Truly, acquiring Jnana has a lot of groundwork behind it.

Firstly, the students served their preceptors with one-pointed devotion and obedience.

This was mandatory for Jnana to appear in their being.

Secondly, they undertook hardships, austerities, penance, and long stints of meditation.

They would meditate deeply on the aphorisms which were pregnant with the seeds of wisdom.

Meditating deeply on these Vedic statements was like offering sunshine and water to the seeds of Jnana.

Furthermore, the austerities and penance served as manure for the plant of Jnana to mature within their being.

Thus, the disciples of the Vedic age followed the authentic process.

How to develop Jnana?

spiritual knowledge, gurukul

The hearts of the Vedic students blossomed with exceptional virtues perhaps unheard of in the current age.

These virtues represented the flowers that appear prior to the fruition of trees. 

Indeed, Knowledge was the fruit that was to appear on the flowers of fragrant virtues.

Righteousness was not an option but the very law forming the base of one’s conscience.

Thus, this strong base gave rise to deepening introversion among the students whose second nature was to contemplate the nature of consciousness.

However, Such deep contemplation is impossible without spotless purity in character, devoid of the vices.

A contemplative mood initiates the reception of pure knowledge.

Knowledge is a transmission.

It is not a set of wordy rules but the awakening of a certain quality made possible through the right reception from an authorized source.

Knowledge only comes through deep contemplation, a quality of committed introversion.

Therefore, extroversion is naturally not recommended for the transmission of Pure Knowledge.

Who can aim for Jnana?

Just like you need a degree in the educational field, only a qualified aspirant can take up Spiritual Knowledge.

Following are the qualities of a Jnani

1) Renunciation or Vairagya (वैराग्य) is a non-exemptible qualification for receiving Divine knowledge.

2) Unless a living entity transcends all levels of attraction, at least in intention, there is no chance for upliftment.

3) Interestingly, this Knowledge cannot co-exist with worldly, self-centered activity.

It is not meant to be.

Therefore True Knowledge is found only in those who have surpassed the mundane.

Science of Brahma Vidya

om mantra significance

Brahma-Vidya (ब्रह्म-विद्या) is the Knowledge of Brahman.

It is the fundamental science or the substance of all knowledge.

Lord Brahma first transmitted the pure science of Brahma-Vidya to his eldest son Atharva,

Atharva transmitted it to Angi.

Angi transmitted the Brahma-Vidya to Satyavaha, the son of Bharadhwaja and from him, the Knowledge went to Angiras.

One day, Shaunaka, the great conductor of sacrifices approached Angiras and said

“What is that, O Bhagawan, through the knowledge of which everything becomes known?”

The answer was- “The knowledge of everything lies in the knowledge of just one reality, Brahma-Vidya (ब्रह्म-विद्या).

What are the limitations of intellect?

Under ordinary circumstances, knowledge about one thing does not necessarily imply knowledge about other things.

But Brahma-Vidya includes all knowledge within its body.

Hence knowledge about everything else comes in it.

Spiritual knowledge indicates that objective knowledge fuses into the essence of the subjective experience.

It is an indivisible all-inclusive cognition that is unifying by its very nature, unlike intellect which slices and divides an experience.

Thus intellect has its limitations because the study of a part does not roll up to the experience of the whole as is the case with our daily experience.

For instance- Understanding the molecule of the leaf does not tell us anything about the tree or its fruit.

Hence, subjective cognition takes the entire experience of the tree, soil, sunshine, rain, and everything related to the tree as a single unit.

However, this subjective experience rises beyond the outward-going senses and their interactions with the sense objects.

Nature of Subjective experience


Subjective experience is intuitive by nature driven by the pure Self.

Hence, it does not function out of sense-perceived duality.

It is a self-identified integral experience.

Well, it would be apt to name this experience as Cogitative perception.

Experience is born out of an object.

However, Cogitative perception is born out of the Self, independent of the sense-organs.

It is the Knowledge of the highest cause, the knowledge of which, means the knowledge of all its effects.

Perception beyond sensual impressions is the import of such knowledge.

The 2 types of knowledges

There are two types of Knowledge-

Lower Knowledge

The lower knowledge covers the four primary Vedas namely Rig, Yajur, Sama, and Atharva-Veda.

The subject matter focuses on grammar, etymology, phonetics, material rituals (Karma Kanda), astronomy, and astrology that fundamentally link to objects of sensory perception.

Lower Knowledge refers to attainment, the gain of powers through a deity thereby possessing some attributes which one did not possibly own prior to attainment.

Can lower knowledge help in attaining Brahman?

An aspirant may wonder whether the lower vidya is of any consequence at all?

Sage Angiras tries to explain the lower vidya thus answering Sage Shaunaka’s question.

He anticipates such doubts are likely to arise in the minds of sincere Sadhakas.

Hence, he immediately opines that lower knowledge is insufficient and incapable of serving as a means towards Brahman’s realization.


Through lower Vidya (Karma Kanda) you attain excellent regions through the performance of meritorious deeds such as prayer and sacrifice.

It may also mean awakening of certain powers within (siddhis), through external aid or prayers, and hence attaining attributes of divinity.

However, these powers are temporary and fickle by their very nature.

That which is permanent, the Imperishable Being is reached through another kind of Knowledge, opines the great sage Angiras.

Higher Knowledge

Higher knowledge means renunciation of all forms of subject-object experience.

The individual becomes absolutely free of psychological conceptions, stripped of all attributes disengaging from anything external.

How are Upanishads special?

The knowledge of the Upanishads destroys ignorance thus leading to perfection.

Hence it is the means of attuning oneself with true naked Existence.

Brahma-Vidya is the technique or the science enabling one to reach Absolute Cognition or pure intuitive perception.

Difference between Higher and Lower Knowledge

1) Lower knowledge initiates the performance of actions while in Higher Knowledge all actions cease to exist.

2) In the lower Vidya, you must put effort to attain the deity after getting the appropriate knowledge.

However, in the higher Vidya, Knowledge does not pertain to any particular divinity.

It is not knowledge in the ordinary sense at all.

Higher Knowledge does not refer to any distinction between the subject and the object.

Simply the process of knowing exists through cognition or awareness

Forms of Jnana

Pure Knowledge comes through great effort in the forms of-

Viveka- It refers to the ability to discriminate the object from the subject.

Vichara- Vichara is the ability to contemplate the nature of the Self by peeling away those attributes within our system that are other than the Self.

Vairagya-  Vairagya is to detach ourselves from sense objects and practice austerity of the senses so that the mind is relieved completely of its addictive nature.

Abhyasa- means to study, practice, and ruminate on all those matters that enable the separation of the Self from objective attributes.

Thanks for reading!