Gyana Yoga - Meaning Of Gyana Yoga
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Different Styles of Yoga

Gyana yoga

Meaning Of Gyana Yoga

In Sanskrit the word Gyana means knowledge. Gyana yoga therefore is described as the path of yoga through the wisdom of divine intelligence. This is certainly not an easy pathway and requires thorough discipline and prudence. This branch of yoga deals with realization of God consciousness in everything and every being. But it is different from Bhakti yoga as the path is not of blind faith in God and servant attitude. It is about experiencing God in every way by way of gathering knowledge about his existence.

The ancient texts describe the Varna system as an integral way of dividing the society as per the tasks performed by various people who participate in making the society as it was. The society was thus divided into four Varnas. These were:

Brahman: The people who were devoted to a life of learning and teaching the other sects of society.

Kshatriyas: These were the warriors and protectors of the society.

Vaishyas: They were the business class people who looked after all the trade and commerce related activities.

Shudras: These were the worker class who looked after all the daily routine chores that made up a considerably important part of every society.

The ancient texts recognize the Brahman as the sole embodiment of all knowledge and wisdom. This should however not be interpreted as Brahman as a class of birth. The Varna system identifies the Brahman as somebody who devotes his life to learning and gathering of knowledge. He is the educationist of society who is a torchbearer of all wisdom. The system has been misinterpreted many times over by many people throughout the period of history. So much so that in present day and time it has been reduced to understanding of something akin to caste in which a person is born by default.

This is not however as it was intended in the times when the Varna system was first introduced. Then the society was divided into four classes as per the capabilities and requirement of duties to be performed by everyone who formed a part of the society. It was quite probable for a person to have all characters and capabilities of a Shudra even though he may have been born as a Brahman. The vice versa of such a situation was also a recognized reality.

In the years that followed many biases and personal interests crept in all strata of society and this system of dividing the society according to one’s inclinations and capabilities slowly degenerated. So much so that in the present day society a person may be considered a Brahman just because he is born into a Brahman family, even though he may display all characters of a Shudra. The statement is certainly not to denigrate any sect of the society but to highlight the fact that this differentiation in society was task and duty based rather than birth based.

The system worked very well and had its merits. Gyana yoga is based on the belief that Brahman was supposed to not only devote his life to learning and propagating his knowledge, but was also responsible to seek answers to the questions of deeper spirituality and thus help in the general upliftment of the society. This was considered a very significant task and could not be given to anyone with lesser inclinations or capabilities. This could not be given to anyone who was very prone to distractions and did not have the capacity to control the mind and keep it free from vices.

Gyana yoga was a means to this end. It is a way to experience the divine consciousness by devoting one’s life to the process of learning and educating oneself. It is about equipping oneself with all the wisdom in order to be able to unite oneself with the divine. Just like in Bhakti yoga the pathway taken is of prayers, here the pathway taken is that of knowledge and wisdom.

Gyana yoga recognizes the importance of a guru or a guide who can lead a pupil to the path of ultimate deliverance or salvation from the cycle of birth and death. There are various practices to be strictly followed on the path to Gyana yoga.

Gyana recognizes the importance of a state of association or dissociation between the two entities that exist everywhere. These are the entities of Brahman and Maya. While the Brahman is the learner and educator, Maya is the distraction present in the pathway of learning. There are diversions everywhere which attract the senses and these become very apparent when a person is headed towards the path to salvation. The control of senses is a very difficult task and requires perfect concentration and immense practice that is why Gyana yoga is considered the branch of yoga that is most difficult to attain.

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