First Step

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

Mumukshutva is the first step to jnana yoga. Mumukshutva means the desire to transcend. The first component is desire, an idea, and the second is transcendence. That indicates a recognition of your present condition. If the recognition of your present situation and condition is not there, there would be no desire to leave anything, improve, change or transcend.

Jnana yoga begins with self-perception, self-awareness and knowing where you are in life and what you need to do in order to improve life. That is the first stage of jnana yoga, not reading a book.

If this first stage is not attained, there is no beginning in jnana yoga. Intellectuals think their study is jnana yoga, but that is their misconception. Psychics may think that their experience is their jnana yoga, that is their misconception. A questioner, a critic may think that asking questions is jnana yoga, that is their misconception. In all these external acts there is no recognition of the self. When you read, what is the recognition of the self in that?

The first stage of jnana yoga, mumukshutva, indicates that there is self-recognition before you even attempt to ask anything, before you even attempt to understand anything. Self-recognition has to happen. You know what is the first practice of jnana yoga? Some people say that in raja yoga the first practice of pratyahara is relaxation or shavasana. In the same way, the first practice of jnana yoga is the SWAN principle. The SWAN technique is a practice of jnana yoga, for it allows you to recognize yourself, and then your fine-tuning begins from that point on, the moment you recognize yourself.

Knowledge is not to be equated with jnana yoga. You know many things now, but how much do you live what you know? Therefore, knowledge cannot be jnana yoga, it cannot equal jnana yoga. So what equals jnana yoga?

When you live what you believe, that is jnana yoga. When you live what you know, that is jnana yoga, and if you live what you know, then not only the heart, which is only one aspect of your whole human personality, but the whole nature lives that knowledge. The heart indicates an expression, an awareness, a perception in the realm of the sentiments, which has to be beautified. The more those sentiments, emotions are beautified the more the heart is identified as a clear and pure heart.

The heart indicates a pure state of being, and mind indicates an interactive state of being. The heart and mind indicate a pure state of being which is attainable if that drive of mumukshutva becomes your guiding force in life and not questions, not scriptures, not debates, not other things that are clubbed as jnana yoga.

29 December 2014, Ganga Darshan, Munger