January 26, 2011

Gita in a Nutshell #10: The Yoga of Understanding.

(Complete contents at
Gita in a Nutshell: Big Ideas and Best Quotations.
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Last week we talked about “Different Yoga Strokes for Different Yoga Folks“.  The ancient Yoga sage(s) who wrote the Gita recognized that different people would need different types of Yoga to match their personality types:

Yoga of Understanding / Yoga of Meditation / Yoga of Love / Yoga of Action

Today let’s look at specific passages in the Gita that describe the Yoga of Understanding or Jnana Yoga (often also referred to as the Yoga of Knowledge or Wisdom):

(For those new to Gita in a Nutshell, the voice speaking here is the infinitely wondrous universe itself, what some refer to as the “Unfathomable Life Force of the Universe” and others choose to call “God”.  In the Gita these are one and the same.  See GN #2.)

Better than any ritual
is the worship achieved through wisdom;
wisdom is the final goal
of every action, Arjuna.   (BG 4.33)


Just as firewood is turned
to ashes in the flames of a fire,
all actions are turned into ashes
in wisdom’s refining flames.

Nothing in the world can purify
as powerfully as wisdom;
practiced in yoga, you will find
this wisdom within yourself.
(BG 4.37-8)

Therefore, with the sword of wisdom
cut off this doubt in your heart;
follow the path of selfless
action; stand up, Arjuna!   (BG 4.42)


Fools say that knowledge and yoga
are separate, but the wise do not.
When you practice one of them deeply,
you gain the rewards of both.

The state reached by true knowledge
is reached by yoga as well.
Both paths lead to the Self;
both lead to selfless action.   (BG 5.4-5)


Mature in yoga, impartial
everywhere that he looks,
he sees himself in all beings
and all beings in himself.

The man who sees me in everything
and everything within me
will not be lost to me, nor
will I ever be lost to him.

He who is rooted in oneness
realizes that I am
in every being, wherever
he goes, he remains in me.

When he sees all beings as equal
in suffering or in joy
because they are like himself,
that man has grown perfect in yoga.   (BG 6.29-32)


I will teach you the essence of this wisdom
and its realization; when you come
to master this, there is nothing
further that needs to be known.   (BG 7.2)

This is the supreme wisdom,
the knowing beyond all knowing,
experienced directly, in a flash,
eternal, and a joy to practice.
(BG 9.2)


Others, on the path of knowledge,
know me as the many, the One;
behind the faces of a million
gods, they can see my face.   (BG 9.15)

He who can understand
the glory of my manifestations
is forever united with me
by his unwavering love.

I am the source of all things,
and all things emerge from me;
knowing this, wise men worship
by entering my state of being.   (BG 10.7-8)


To those who are steadfast, who love me
with true devotion, I give
the yoga of understanding,
which will bring them to where I am.

Acting with deep compassion
from within my own being, I dispel
all ignorance-born darkness
with wisdom’s resplendent light.   (BG 10.10-11)


By devotion he comes to realize
the meaning of my infinite vastness;
when he knows who I truly am,
he instantly enters my being.   (BG 18.55)

Whoever earnestly studies
this sacred discourse of ours—
I consider that he has worshiped
and loved me with the yoga of knowledge.   (BG 18.70)

#9: Different Yoga Strokes for Different Yoga Folks

#11: The Yoga of Meditation.

(Complete contents at
Gita in a Nutshell: Big Ideas and Best Quotations
To receive notice of each weekly blog,
please join our Facebook group.)

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