Jñāna or gñāna (English: /dʒəˈnɑːnə/,[1] Hindi: ज्ञान [ɡjaːnə], from Pali ñāna, Sanskrit jñāna) is a Sanskrit and Pali word that means knowledge. It has various nuances of meaning depending on the context. The idea of jnana centers around a cognitive event which is recognized when experienced.[2] It is knowledge inseparable from the total experience of reality, especially a total reality,[2] or supreme being such as Siva-Sakti.[3]

In Hinduism it means true knowledge, the knowledge that one's self (atman) is identical with Ultimate Reality Brahman. It is also referred to as Atma Jnana which is frequently translated as self-realization.

In Buddhism, it refers to pure awareness that is free of conceptual encumbrances, and is contrasted with vijnana, which is a moment of 'divided knowing'. Entrance to, and progression through the ten stages of Jnana, will lead one to complete enlightenment and nibbana.[4]

Jnana Shakti is "the power of intellect, real wisdom, or knowledge".[5]

Jñānālok is "the enlightenment that can be achieved through attainment of Knowledge and Truth".[6]

Jnana yoga is one path (marga) towards moksha (liberation). There are other paths for different temperaments such as Bhakti and Karma Yoga.

As per Hinduism, Jnana means a divine wisdom or total knowledge of everybody, everything, everywhere and every time in the entire cosmos. This wisdom can only be given by God to a qualified human being, so believe the followers of the Dualist Hindu Philosophies, while the Nondual Hindu Philosophies(eg Advaita) posit that this knowledge is available to all, and that even the "god/s" are but illusions.

Narottama dasa Thakura compares the paths of karma-kanda and jnana-kanda to pots of poison (karma-kanda, jnana-kanda, kevala visera bhanda). Liquor and poison are in the same category. According to this verse from Srimad-Bhagavatam, a person who has heard a good deal about the path of devotional service, but who is not attached to it, who is not Krsna conscious, is like a pot of liquor. Such a person cannot be purified without at least a slight touch of devotional service.

Jnanis are those who cultivate jnana, speculative knowledge about Brahman. "There are two kinds of jnanis. One is inclined to devotional service and the other to impersonal realization. Impersonalists generally undergo great endeavor for no tangible benefit, and therefore it is said that they are husking paddy that has no grain (sthula-tushavaghatinah). The other class of jnanis, whose jnana is mixed with bhakti, are also of two kinds -- those who are devoted to the so-called false form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and those who understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead as sac-cid-ananda-vigraha [Bs. 5.1], the actual spiritual form." [7]

Jnana refers to the cultivation of knowledge. The jnani sees the shortcomings of karma and begins to inquire into higher truth. Jnanis are generally philosophers and meditators. They are not interested merely in material results, but in knowledge for its own sake. By cultivating jnana through the study of Vedic sastras or through meditation, the jnani can come to the brink of spiritual knowledge, awareness of eternal Brahman. But unless he goes further and understands his relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he will suffer the same defeat as the karmi -- confinement within the cycle of birth and death. A prayer to Krsna by the demigods points up the jnanis' shortcoming: O lotus-eyed Lord, although nondevotees who accept severe austerities and penances to achieve the highest position may think themselves liberated, their intelligence is impure. They fall down from their position of imagined superiority because they have no regard for Your lotus feet. [Bhag. 10.2.32][8]

See also


  1. ^ "jnana". Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. 2nd ed. 1989.
  2. ^ a b http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/304133/jnana
  3. ^ "The tantra: its origin, theories, art, and diffusion from India to Nepal, Tibet, Mongolia, China, Japan, and Indonesia" by Victor M. Fic, available online at books.google.com here, http://books.google.com/books?id=g5DxR29F-iYC&dq=tantra&source=gbs_navlinks_s
  4. ^ Gampopa's "Jewel Ornament of Liberation", especially the ten bhumis, where the absorption state or non-dual state, which characterizes all ten bhumis, in this well-respected traditional text, is equated to the state of jnana
  5. ^ Helena Petrona Blavatsky (1893 - 1897), The Secret Doctrine, London Theosophical Pub. House, 1893-97, ISBN 0-900-588-74-8
  6. ^ Helena Petrona Blavatsky (1893 - 1897), The Secret Doctrine, London Theosophical Pub. House, 1893-97, ISBN 0-900-588-74-8
  7. ^ O great sage, among many millions who are liberated and perfect in knowledge of liberation, one may be a devotee of Lord Narayana, or Krishna. Such devotees, who are fully peaceful, are extremely rare.Srimad Bhagavatam 6.14.5
  8. ^ Pure devotional service, on the other hand, is far superior to fruitive work, philosophical speculation, and mystic meditation. ... Those who cultivate knowledge (jnana) are often very proud and consider themselves superior to devotees. But the perfection of knowledge is to surrender to the Supreme Personality of Godhead and realize that He is everything. Then jnana becomes jnana-yoga and is purified of mental speculation. As Krsna says in the Bhagavad-gita (7.19), bahunam janmanam ante jnanavan mam prapadyate vasudevah sarvam iti sa mahatma su-durlabhah / "After many births and deaths, he who is actually in knowledge surrenders unto Me, knowing Me to be the cause of all causes and all that is. Such a great soul is very rare" (Bg. 7.19).Narada Bhakti Sutra 25


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