Jnana yoga is one of the four main paths of Yoga. Jnana means wisdom; Jnana Yoga is the intellectual approach to spiritual evolution or realization. Through inquiry and analysis, the mind is used to examine its own nature. Jnana Yoga is said to be the most difficult path, not because it is superior to any other path, but because one must be firmly grounded in the other yogic disciplines before attempting Jnana Yoga. There must be a strong base of selfless service – serving humanity without a thought of personal gain – and love of God, or deep yearning to merge with the Absolute. One must also have a strong, healthy body, control of the vital energies and of the mind before it is possible to use the mind as a vehicle to transcend this world of ignorance. Without these preliminary disciplines, there will not be the strength or discernment to stay on this path. It is easy to be confused, tempted, and led straight by the illusion of the world and the workings of the mind. It is the synthesis of all Yogas that rounds out the imbalances of life Without this integration, there is the risk of becoming a dry intellectual from too much book learning.

Jnana yoga is a path of evolution toward spiritual realization. It employs and incorporates different methods to achieve this end, but its main tool is Vedanta philosophy. Vedanta is a body of knowledge based on ancient Indian texts. The practice of Jnana Yoga involves inquiry into the nature of the world by putting to use the teachings of Vedanta.

Vedanta literally means “end of the Vedas.” Vedanta is based on the teachings of the Upanishads, which form the concluding section of the Vedas. The Vedas are the most ancient scriptural texts of India.

Meditation and Mantras
by Swami Vishnu-Devananda