Jnaana-yoga – the Direct Path
June 5, 2013 Comments Off on Jnaana-yoga – the Direct Path
Yogavaasishtha Ramayana is a paramount scripture on Knowledge. The entire narration primarily revolves around jnaana-yoga, and Vasishtha elucidates the very subtle process of truthful introspection or tattva-vichara from various angles, with many illustrations. The singular Inner Self, the spiritual presence animating and activating our body, is the sole focus of this continued introspection.
Through various illustrations, Vasishthadeva leads Sri Rama’s mind to deeper and subtler levels of introspection, making the process a wholesome, assiduous saadhana. Only then exposition bestows the desired effect.
As a true seeker, Sri Rama faithfully absorbs with full attention all that Vasishthadeva has been saying. Of the exposition which lasted for 18 days, more than half the period must have passed by now. Naturally Sri Rama is enlightened greatly, as he says:
‘Jnaana-yoga is solely based on the seeker’s intelligence and mind. All that the seeker has to do is to get rightly exposed to the words of the Teacher or the scriptures, with unswerving devoutness, fervently introspect over the message, and gain the import every time. This then becomes tattva-vichara. By this, the intelligence and mind get bonded to the exposition. Depending on the depth and intensity of the process, the mind becomes purer and the intelligence gets freed of ignorance and delusion. Clarity and expanse dawns, resulting in spiritual enlightenment’.
The most important point to note is that the whole pursuit rests upon and involves only the mind and intelligence of the seeker, unlike the so many rituals, ceremonies and devotional practices, which involve a variety of materials, physical movements and exertions.
Thus jnaana-yoga or the path of introspection (vichara) is the most direct and effective spiritual practice and austerity. Unfortunately not many will be able to take to this path right from the beginning. They will need the help of some preliminary disciplines and routines to prepare their mind for the jnaana-saadhana.
What are these aids? In fact, all the religious, devotional or ritualistic practices act only as aids to the real jnaana-pursuit. Vedas begin with colourful praises and hymns addressed to various superhuman powers, to be uttered with specific tunes, raising and lowering the voice in mystic succession. This oral pursuit is followed by rituals, employing a variety of well selected materials, offered to the fire methodically with attention and care.
Thereafter, the Vedic thinkers stepped into the next stage, the contemplative pursuit, leading to Upanishadic enquiries and findings, constituting the real jnaana-saadhana. It is this vichara process that Vasishthadeva instills in Sri Rama right from the beginning. Listening to the Sage in the palace of Ayodhya, Rama was applying his intelligence to what he heard, grasping the import every time. It was exclusively an inner, intelligential effort. – Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha
[This is an extract from the series by Poojya Swamiji titled ‘Science of Inner Redemption’, appearing in the Sep 2009 issue of the Monthly Journal Vicharasethu.]