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Our email address is editor @realization.org.

Copyright 2002 Realization.org.


Jnana Yoga

This is our reference page on the yoga of knowledge with an introductory article, links, and book recommendations.

JNANA MEANS WISDOM or knowledge in Sanskrit. Jnana Yoga is a technique for seeking liberation in which identification with the real Self (rather than with the body or ego) is developed by a steady effort to discern or discriminate between pure awareness and the objects of awareness.

Jnana Yoga is closely associated with Advaita Vedanta. Vedanta is one of the six darshans or philosophies of Hinduism, and Advaita Vedanta is the school of thought within Vedanta which believes that everything in the universe shares a single soul, including you, me, and God.

The techniques of Jnana Yoga include:

  • Viveka. This means "discernment" or "discrimination" in English. This technique, associated especially with Shankara, involves a deliberate, continuous effort to understand that the real you -- the Self -- is something separate from the objects of which you are aware.

  • Neti-neti. This phrase means "not this, not this" in Sanskrit. You apply this formula mentally to all objects of awareness to destroy the false sense that they are you. When all the objects are banished, the real you -- the Self -- is what's left over.

  • Vicara. This word is usually translated as "self-inquiry," but it really means examination, reflection, or looking within. This technique, associated especially with Ramana Maharshi, involves a continuous, deliberate effort to become aware of the real you -- the Self. For more on this topic, go here.


Advaita Vedanta
Our main reference page on Advaita Vedanta contains additional information about Jnana Yoga including more links and book recommendations.

Our main reference page on self-inquiry, the method of Jnana Yoga taught by Ramana Maharshi.

Ashtavakra Gita
A great classical Sanskrit poem that gives instructions for practicing Jnana Yoga.

Ramana Maharshi
Many people think Ramana Maharshi was the greatest teacher of Jnana Yoga in the twentieth century.

Forty Verses on Reality
By Ramana Maharshi
This is Ramana Maharshi's most comprehensive statement of his teachings.

Crest Jewel of Wisdom
also called Viveka-Chudamani
By Sankara

According to tradition, this book was written in the eighth or ninth century by the most famous philosopher of Advaita Vedanta. It contains the classic explanation of viveka, a primary component of Jnana Yoga.

Our main reference page on yoga in general.


The Yoga of Discernment and Self-Transcendence
By Georg Feuerstein

Nice overview of Jnana Yoga on the website of the Yoga Research and Education Center (YREC).

Jnana Yoga
By Swami Krishnananda Saraswati

(This link is temporarily offline as of December 27, 2001.) Nice overview of Jnana Yoga on the website of Vivekayuktananda Ashram.

Jnana Yoga
By Swami Sivananda
Another nice overview of Jnana Yoga on the website of the Divine Life Society.

The Realisation of the Absolute
By Swami Krishnananda
An intellectually rigorous discussion of both Vedanta and Jnana Yoga, with emphasis on theory and philosophy.



Shankara's Crest Jewel of Discrimination
By Swami Prabhavananda (trans.) and Christopher Isherwood (trans.)
· · · · · · · · · · · ·

Sankara is one of the two most famous philosophers and teachers of enlightenment in Indian history (the other is Buddha). According to tradition, in the eighth century he wrote the canonical books on Advaita Vedanta (nondualism) and established the ten monastic orders of Indian swamis which continue to this day -- and managed to do these things before dying at age 32. In this book, Sankara (or somebody else writing under his name) sets forth one of the basic methods of Jnana Yoga: viveka, which means discrimination or discernment in English.

The Heart of Awareness
By Thomas Byrom (translator)
· · · · · · · · · · · ·
If we tell you this is a famous Sanskrit scripture, you'll probably think ugh, heavy turgid stilted. But it's none of those things. It's just a guy talking to you, an enlightened guy, telling you what he knows and how to see it for yourself. His words are weightless, airy, transparent — especially in this remarkable translation by Thomas Byrom. These are words for eye dancing, for mere awareness, for floating into infinity. And yet we have to be honest with you. Even though this poem sounds as new as today's e-mail, it really is a classical scripture, infinitely substantial, one of the most beautiful expositions of Advaita Vedanta and Jnana Yoga ever written.
Where to order it
· · · · · · · · · · · ·

The Heart of Awareness: A Translation of the Ashtavakra Gita
By Thomas Byrom (translator)

· · · · · · · · · · · ·

92 pages.
Published by Shambhala (1990).

ISBN 157062643-X.

Be As You Are
Edited by David Godman
· · · · · · · · · · · ·
This superb compilation of Ramana Maharshi's writings and dialogues is the best available single volume about his teachings. It covers all aspects of Sri Ramana's teachings and arranges them in the order preferred by Sri Ramana himself, with the most important or highest teachings first. The editor, David Godman, is one of the world's foremost experts on Sri Ramana.
Where to order it

Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
· · · · · · · · · · · ·
251 pages.
Published by Arkana (Penguin Books).
ISBN 0140190627.

I Am That
By Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
· · · · · · · · · · · ·
More than five hundred pages of transcribed conversations allow you to eavesdrop on Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, the most famous teacher of Advaita since Ramana Maharshi, as he sits in his living room and answers questions from visitors who have come to ask what they should do to become enlightened. Sri Nisargadatta described what it felt like to be in his state at considerable length, and he did so with a prodigiously intelligent, uncannily articulate modern vocabulary. The force of the language makes this is a unique and astonishing work. Sri Nisargadatta's talks were given in Marathi and translated into English by Maurice Frydman, who had been a devotee of Ramana Maharshi. An American book dealer who carries many books about meditation and Advaita has told us that this book is his number-one seller.
Where to order it

In the U.S.:
Blue Dove
Books Beyond Words
In Europe:
· · · · · · · · · · · ·
I Am That:
Talks with Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
By Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
Translated by Maurice Frydman
Edited by Sudhakar S. Dikshit
· · · · · · · · · · · ·
550 pages.
Published by Acorn Press (1973).
ISBN 0893860220

This page was published on February 14, 2000 and
last revised on December 27, 2001.


Copyright 2002 Realization.org