Jnana Yoga in Daily Life

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

People want to know if jnana yoga can be lived like karma yoga in day-to-day activities. What is meant by jnana yoga? When you are observing yourself, it is jnana yoga, not karma yoga. When you are observing your reactions and responses, it is jnana yoga. Through your intellect you are analyzing these reactions: Why do I get angry? Why do I get frustrated? Why do I feel happy? Why do I feel depressed? These questions are questions of jnana yoga. Therefore, one cannot live without jnana yoga.

Jnana and ajnana

You can live without karma yoga. Just sleep for twenty-four hours in your room. You can live without ‘eating yoga’ when you stop eating for a day. However, you cannot live without jnana yoga. You cannot stop thinking. If your thinking is constructive and positive, it is jnana yoga. If it is conspiring, negative and critical, it is ajnana yoga. Your mind is going through this practice all the time.

Your difficulty or problem is that you think jnana yoga is questioning ‘Who am I?’ Yet if you do not even know what makes you angry, how will you ever know who you are? If you do not know what makes you happy, how will you ever know who you are? If you do not know what you desire, how will you ever know who you are?

Jnana yoga is something that you cannot live without. Most of the time this jnana yoga is ajnana yoga. In ajnana yoga, the yoga of ignorance, you fall deep into the pit which you have dug for yourself. If you do not like someone, then with ajnana yoga anger, hatred or jealousy will keep increasing. If you do not like somebody yet you begin to love that person, then with that jnana yoga the animosity will decrease day by day.

Therefore, ask yourself, ‘which yoga do I live?’ Most of the time you are living ajnana yoga. You have your opinions, your choices, your likes and dislikes. You hold on to it and that is your ajnana yoga.

Have you ever lived jnana yoga? Ajnana yoga will find no place in your life if you live jnana yoga.

—2 November 2014, Ganga Darshan, Munger