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Jnana Yog

Message: Namaskar Swamiji,

I recently read the book Jnana Yog and Karma Yog by Swami Vivekanandji.I was deeply inspired by the books. And I've a few queries about the philosophy of Advaita. I couldn't comprehend the relation of Maya with Brahman. Is it a part of Brahman or is it seperate. If it is seperate from Brahman , won't there be a duality which is against Advaita? If it is part of Brahman, won't Brahman also have qualities apart from Sat-Chit-Ananda , because Maya is endowed with Rajas and Tamas as well? Swami Vivekanandji has said in Jnana Yog that our minds are finite and Brahman is infinite ,is it because of this, that this contradiction seems to arise?

Though I have these queries , I still find that Advaita is a most complete explanation of this universe , only because of lack of comprehension I have these queries.

In the Big Bang Theory of Universe, all observable matter was said to originate from a single point . But if we look at this from duality , we still can't account for empty space (or Akasha), when did the space come into existence is the question that comes to the mind. But Advaita seems to be the answer to this query. That Akasha(i.e space) and Pran (i.e matter) are all one. All part of the absolute.



Nice to read your questions with regard to Advaita Philosophy!

Maya means "that which is available for experience but that which does not exist actually, and therefore that which is inexplicable". Inexplicable means that which can’t be explainable. Can you explain about "mirage water". Does the mirage water is different from the "sand", or one with the sand? If it is different from the sand, then you should be able to use it as water for your thirst. If it is one with the sand, then you can’t call it as "mirage water". You should call it is sand only. The fact is when there is no mirage water at all, then why we should attempt to find a place for it. It is a mere appearance, from the stand point of the fact. What people call as "mirage water" is nothing but sand.

Similarly, you can’t talk about "Maya" which is a mere appearance. Because what the ignorant people call as Maya is nothing but Brahman for the wise-man . The very attempt to find a "place" for Maya shows, that it is taken for granted, that it exists as a second entity. Maya does not exist at all from the Absolute stand point. Wise man does not have any confusion. For him, this Maya is Lord’s power (like the power of a magician) from the Relative stand point of Creation-preservation-destruction. Same Maya does not exist at all from the Absolute stand point.

Don’t try to understand "Maya". It is neither "existing" nor "non-existing" entity. It does not come under any definition. Without definition, we can’t understand anything as an object. You can’t understand it unless you the Subject recognize your Infinite nature as Brahman.

Moreover, don’t try to understand the Scriptures in an academic way by "self-study". These academic informations can not solve the human problems. Getting Self-knowledge from the Scriptures depends upon the following questions:

· Are you guided by any Spiritual Teacher?

· Are you a sincere seeker of the Truth?

· Do you have devotion to the Lord, who is the Ultimate Truth of the appearing world?

Therefore, our suggestion is, first of all, find a Gurudev for your spiritual journey.

"Leading a clean life with the practice of moral values, Prayer, Namajapa and Satsangh are means for attaining Gurudev in our spiritual life. Try them and wait for the Lord's Grace. He will certainly bless you with a Spiritual Teacher. Offer your mind to Him and pray Him to manifest in your mind and make your life a purposeful one and with peace".

With Prayers,

Yours in Service,


Which Yoga is the best?

Kindly accept my humble pranams.

I am a bachelor working professional of age 30+. I got a couple of philosophical question as I read a text on the Srimad Bhagvat Gita recently.

My first question is regarding the best form of Yogas as applicable in today's world. It looks that Bhagavan Sri Krishna has glorified all the four forms of Yoga (i.e. Karma, Bhakti, Jnana and Raja) at different chapters of the Gita. Now, which form is the best for practicing in this time with least struggle and with more probability of success?

One more question regarding Karma and Jnana Yoga. As it seems pure Jnana is devoid of any Karma and inclination to Karma is opposite to that of Jnana, is it ever possible to mix both in order to get the best out of those?

I will be obliged in case you kindly give a suggestion to my query.



p>It is nice to read your questions.

The final and factual teaching of the Vedas, ( mentioned very clearly in the Upanishads) is that the Jiva (ie. You/ I ) is Brahman - the Infinite consciousness. There is only one Infinite which is called/recognized as Brahman, (the infinite consciousness) by the men of wisdom, and which is called/perceived as Jiva (the finite Individual). Infinitude is a fact, and the finitude is a mere appearance. This is the final teaching of our Vedas.

According to our Scriptures, Self Ignorance is the cause of all problems. Every jiva takes millions of birth and death as long as he/she considers himself/herself as a jiva. Unless a jiva understands the ultimate goal of life, that this life is to conquer the death through the love of God and wisdom of his real nature, he/she is subject to repeated death and birth and various sufferings. The only purpose of human life is to realize our own Inner Divinity, which people generally call as God Realization.

Since Self Ignorance is the cause, the solution must be gaining “Self Knowledge”. Gaining ‘Self Knowledge’ means, recognizing your own Infinite nature which is, an ever existing fact. You just drop the idea that you are “finite jiva”. Therefore ‘jnana’ is the only solution. To get the knowledge, you can start with any yoga according to your temperament and prepare your mind. All the 4 yogas are necessary since each one plays a distinct role. A spiritual seeker has to go through all these yogas in one janma or the other. There is no choice in 4 yogas. Karma Yoga helps you to get Vairagyam (dispassion) from the worldly attachments. Raja Yoga helps you to prepare your physiological and psychological personalities. Bhakti yoga helps you to have emotional stability and love for the Lord (which is the goal). Finally when the seeker is fully matured with four-fold qualifications –like Viveka, Vairagya, Mukukshutwa (burning desire for Knowledge) etc., Jnana yoga reveals the “Ultimate Reality”, which is fortunately happened to be our own “Infinite nature”.

So, start any yoga as per your wish, and in course of time you will understand that they are not water-tight compartments and serious practice of one particular yoga need the practice of other yogas also. Therefore, there are not many paths. There is only one path, wherein many stages have to be crossed and mind must be prepared for the Self- Knowledge.

Generally Bhakti Yoga and Karma Yoga are prescribed for everybody, since one can’t avoid working and one needs emotional stability in the spiritual life. Therefore perform your duties as the offering to the Lord, wherein there is no place for any worldly desires and unethical means. Surrender to the Lord with full faith. Offer your mind to Him and pray Him to manifest in your mind and make your life a purposeful one and with peace.

Jnana means the absence of idea of “doer-ship”. Karma means “having doer-ship”. Both can’t exist simultaneously. Combination of Jnana and Karma is not possible only in terms of technicality. But we come across in the lives of Wise men like Sri Shankara and Swami Vivekananda were highly active. Since they did not have “doer-ship” they were not affected by the fruits of the Karma. But while doing all the actions they were absolutely wise. Therefore, in general, their life is combination of “Knowledge with action”. Don’t bother about these technicalities. Start your spiritual journey with all earnestness, knowing fully the benefits you are going to get and requirements of this spiritual journey.

Leading a life of Brahmacharya, with the practice of moral values, Prayer, Namajapa and Satsangh are means for growth in spiritual life. Try them and wait for the Lord's Grace. He will certainly bless you with a Spiritual guide and growth. Offer your mind to Him and pray Him to manifest in your mind and make your life a purposeful one and with peace.

Also we suggest you to read the life and teachings of Sri Ramakrishna, Sri Sarada Devi and Swami Vivekananda for the general guidance for your spiritual life.

For more personal guidance, if you are staying in Bangalore, you are welcome to attend our Sunday Class (at 3.30p.m.) which is specially conducted for the youths, in our Ashram.

Visit our site http://www.ramakrishnamath.in/home/qa . We update lot of materials for youth. Enrich yourself with good things and be happy in life.

With prayers,


Pranams Swamiji

Kindly accept my humble pranam.

I’m grateful to you for a detailed and practical answer to my query. The suggestions (like Japa, Prayer etc.), as prescribed here, look really helpful towards leading a life of spirituality as a beginner. I want to follow those but need some more guidance to start with.

I have one more query: in relation to the first point as mentioned the non-duality of the Jiva and Brahman, I think it’s more inclined towards the philosophy of Advaita Vedanta as prescribed by Sri Shankaracharya. I completely agree this is the path of a Jnani who wants to experience the same through Nirvikalpa Samadhi, and thus liberated from the cycle of birth and death. So, liberated Jiva is considered as Brahman Itself.

However, if someone wants to start his or her life as a Bhakta (with Bhakti Yoga), I doubt whether it would help to consider the individual Jiva as Brahman, as that would contradict the very essence of relation between worshipper and worshipped. As the philosophy taught by Sri Madhavacharya (Dwaita) or Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (Achinta Bheda Aveda) – a Jiva is separate entity than that of the Ishwar and it will never attain the non-duality. The final abode of Jiva, as Mahaprabhu suggested, is similar to Sri Radharani and thus liberated from the enormous cycle of birth and death. In this case, liberated Jiva is not same to the Ishwar.

Since both philosophies are different, do they suggest different state of Jiva after attaining final goal through respective paths of Yogas (Jnana and Bhakti)? If that is true, then how both may be equally effective?

The similar kinds of reference I got in my very little study of Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda literatures. They glorified all the yoga systems. However, while Sri Ramakrishna stressed more on Bhakti Yoga, Swami Vivekananda gave more importance to Karma & Jnana Yoga. I am not sure whether this is my misinterpretation of the literatures, and a well guided suggestion may eradicate my confusion on the same.

I guess I’m not overburdening your valuable time – and apologize if it so. Kindly advise…

With respect,



In the spiritual matters, the words of Upanishads are final and factual. The Supreme judge is Upanishad only. Without the Upanishad, nobody, whether he is a philosopher, or saint or even Incarnations can not talk anything about God, Jive, Moksha, etc. This is the unique position, our Upanishads have. All the Incarnations, philosophers, sages accepted this position.

But the problem is, in Upanishads we find place for Dvaita, Visishtadvaita and Advaita. Upanishad itself, declares that Advaita is the last word of Spiritual Journey. In order to achieve this Non-dual (Advaitic) culmination, Bhakti, Karma yoga etc are prescribed. Any attempt to make “Duality as the Final Stage” is severely condemned by the Upanishad. In Gita, you can come across all these ideas, and Bhagavan Krishna reconciles Bhakti (based on duality) and Karma as the stepping stone for the Jnana or Para-Bhakti (based on Advaitic vision).

Eternal Dualism is never accepted by the Upanishads and the Spiritual Experiences of the Sages. The beauty of our Hinduism is, that the philosophers, saints and sages have experienced and dwelt on every stage of spiritual journey, and gave out as they philosophies to the people according to the need of the society and time. Each philosopher stressed the necessity and utility of every stage, in the spiritual journey. All dualistic philosophers condemn each other, and quarrel among themselves. Only the Advaitain does not quarrel with other philosophies and tries to reconcile all the philosophies by putting it in its appropriate places, as shown in the Upanishads. All the paths are equally glorified so that, a spiritual seeker, can start his journey wherever he is comfortable. Sri Ramakrishna was an Advaitin in the garb of a devotee. Swami Vivekananda was an Advaintin in the garb of Jnana. Their language differs, but not the content, namely, purpose of life is to “Love the Lord through Wisdom of Oneness”. As long as duality exists, there is no possibility of “True Love”. Lord should become one with me, then and then only I can Love the Lord as myself. The fact is “Everyone loves himself, unconditionally and truly” (Aatmanastu kaamaaya sarvam priyam bhavati – says Brihadaranayaka Upanishad). If the Lord, who is separate from me is the source of suffering, nobody will love Him and attain him, serve him, even if, he is most beautiful, powerful and good person. Since the Lord is the source of Happiness for me that is the reason, that I love him and try to attain him. I love my happiness unconditionally, and the lord becomes the means for my happiness. Anything which is the source of sorrow, I can’t love. As long as the Lord stands different from me, he is the potential threat for my life. Since, the loving god, who is a protector, happen to be destroyer of this creation, as “Kaala tatva”. I will have fear, as long as he stands away from me.

Don’t bother about these philosophical differences. But the quarrel is about the end only. If you can’t accept any philosophy then also you are not going to loose anything. The Lord knows what is the correct philosophy, whether Advaita or Dvaita. If you like to be with him as a devotee, companion and servant, certainly He will fulfill your desire. He will certainly allow you stay as a separate personality and love him, serve him, etc. Therefore, start your journey sincerely, and surrender to Him. He will certainly bless you in whatever way you liked to be blessed. You can suspect about the philosophers but not about the Lord. When you love and reach him, he himself will show the Ultimate Truth.

Be sincere with your spiritual practices. As I wrote earlier, “Leading a clean life with the practice of moral values, Prayer, Namajapa and Satsangh are means for guidance in spiritual life. Try them and wait for the Lord's Grace. He will certainly bless you with a Spiritual growth. Offer your mind to Him and pray Him to manifest in your mind and make your life a purposeful one and with peace”.

With prayers,

Yours in service


Dear Maharaj

this question is direct and regarding current situation. I feel that there are two new major problems indian society is facing today, besides several other problems inherant to it : terrorists and rapists.

Not much to talk about terrorists as it is not an individual problem...but for the other one, i feel everybody should feel. i feel it in a sense of urgency. everybody have women households -- mother, sisters, daughters -- and India was known for its culture of not keeping lustful eye on each and every women -- that seems to have changed. i have read Swamiji\'s works and miss him a lot. where is that inspiration in our generations. recently there are so many incidences that, i and many of my friends are fearful going out even with family members. even the so called agitators against it, keep immoral video clips in their mobiles.

what can be done about this..our police and government seems to be helpless or lack of motivation. the youth doesnt want to listen to moral advices, the society is agitating against some events -- but keeps their backdoor open to indulge in such activity, and few good men who may be wellwisher -- are finding themselves weak. if there are so many spiritual people in India, why eve-teasers and rapists are not being stopped before they do such things...how could be a person be spiritual unless he stands up for what is true, good and respectful?

this is my question.. and since i have felf pain due to these circumstances, i feel a need to find a right answer to it. just feeling pain for others is useless- even in terms of practical vedanta -- if we can\'t do anything about it. and on the other hand -- we don\'t have to be victims ourselves in order to be active.

please guide me


Dear ________,


We are happy to know that you are thinking about the welfare of the society.

According to our Great Rishis up to Swami Vivekananda, the solution for all problems of humanity is "manifesting our Inner Divinity". When we recognize the Inner Divinity, which is the same in every human being, how a person can insult or misbehave with other human?. As long as Money, Sense pleasures and greediness are the goals of a society, all these social evils are bound to exist. How can we expect peace and love, wherein selfish interests are running riot. The men of renunciation and character must be produced more and more if any society wants to be happy and peaceful.

Please read this letter written by Swami Vivekananda to his disciple Sister Nivedita.


My ideal indeed can be put into a few words and that is: to preach unto mankind their divinity and how to make it manifest in every movement of life.

This world is in chain of superstition. I pity the oppressed, whether man or woman, and I pity more the oppressors.

One idea that I see clear as daylight is that misery is caused by ignorance and nothing else. Who will give the world light? Sacrifice in the past has been the Law, it will be, alas, for ages to come. The earth's bravest and best will have to sacrifice themselves for the good of many, for the welfare of all. Buddhas by the hundred are necessary with eternal love and pity.

Religions of the world have become lifeless mockeries. What the world wants is character. The world is in need of those whose life is one burning love, selfless. That love will make every word tell like thunderbolt.

It is no superstition with you, I am sure, you have the making in you of a world-mover, and others will also come. Bold words and bolder deeds are what we want. Awake, awake, great ones! The world is burning with misery. Can you sleep? Let us call and call till the sleeping gods awake, till the god within answers to the call. What more is in life? What greater work? The details come to me as I go. I never make plans. Plans grow and work themselves. I only say, awake, awake!

May all blessings attend you for ever!

Yours affectionately,


Feeling for the fellow human being is a good sign and if you have that it is by the blessings of the Lord. While preserving that feeling in your heart prepare yourself and wait for the opportunity to convert the feeling into genuine service activities.

To have this Philosophy of Service and Discovery of Inner Divinity in our life, we should at first be pure and moral. Past history of the world proves that, a man of Character and Spirituality alone can help/serve the society. So please study Swami Vivekananda's life and teachings. It will certainly help you in moulding your character. Be good and help others also to be good.

If you need more personal guidance, please come to our Math on any day during 9a.m. to 12 noon & 4p.m. to 6.p.m. and meet the sadhus.

With prayers for your wellbeing,

Yours in service,

Next Question

i am trying to get an answer that may lead me out of my present situation. I have read most of Swamiji's work and that has had a positive impact. But i have noticed that that impact is only in the domain of increasing sensitivity.

what i mean is i have noticed that my sensitivity for pain and difficulties in this world in general has increased. i feel it is virtue to feel for others. probably that is what could be a first step in practical vedanta. but how to deal with that intense pain that comes. Especially the pain that comes after seeing somebody victimized or many suffering, by an action of humans, and directly or indirectly we are also part of the same system. how to deal with that pain...i can't do anything about that.

this feeling doesnot necessarily translate in to will for good work. may be because of the habit of becoming weak...how to improve that? and where to find supportive strong willed people who are enthusistically doing good work?



Happy to read your mail.

Feeling for the suffering people is a sign of good heart. Fortunately, by the blessings of the Lord, you have that. While preserving that feeling in your heart prepare yourself for the Lord's command in transforming that feeling into genuine service activities.

Preparation should be in the form of going beyond the sentiments, emotions and anxieties. Pure life by following the moral values in our personal life is the first and foremost step in this preparation. When you become free from selfish motives like achieving name and fame through these service activities, then and then alone, Lord will make you as His instrument in serving the society. A man who is beyond his "likes and dislikes" and who has made his life "with DO's AND DON'Ts" is a fit person to serve the society.

Swami Vivekananda founded our "Ramakrishna Math and Mission" with the twin ideals "For ones own Personal liberation (from the fetters of his individuality) and For the service of the Humanity". He also gave the road map to achieve this great ideal. Our Organization is serving this society for the last 110 years, keeping this ideal.

Service is not an action of charity. In charity the giver is in the upper hand. But in Service the Receiver is in upper hand. The receiver is considered as a manifestation of the Lord himself, whom the giver wants to attain in his life. So the giver always serves the Lord (who is in the form of the receiver) with all devotion and humility. Through this devoted service, we get the blessings of the Lord through which, we discover our Inner Divinity.

To have this Philosophy of Service and Discovery of Inner Divinity in our life, we should at first be pure and moral. So please study Swami Vivekananda's life and teachings. It will certainly help you in moulding your character. A man of character only can help/serve the society.

If you need more personal guidance, please come to our Math on any day during 9a.m. to 12 noon & 4p.m. to 6.p.m. and meet the sadhus.

With prayers for your wellbeing,

Yours in service,

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