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

Via Bob Weisenberg
on Jan 26, 2011
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(Complete contents at
Gita in a Nutshell: Big Ideas and Best Quotations.
For notice of each weekly blog,
please join our Facebook group.

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.)


About Bob Weisenberg

Bob Weisenberg: Editor, Best of Yoga Philosophy / Former Assoc. Publisher, elephant journal / Author: Yoga Demystified * Bhagavad Gita in a Nutshell * Leadership Is Like Tennis, Not Egyptology / Co-editor: Yoga in America (free eBook) / Creator: Gita Talk: Self-paced Online Seminar / Flamenco guitarist: "Live at Don Quijote" & "American Gypsy" (Free CD's) / Follow Bob on facebook, Twitter, or his main site: Wordpress.


13 Responses to “Gita in a Nutshell #10: The Yoga of Understanding.”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Bob Weisenberg, Bob Weisenberg. Bob Weisenberg said: "Gita in a Nutshell #10: The Yoga of Understanding (Jnana)" My #356yoga for the day. @elephantjournal #yogadork #yoga […]

  2. Sue says:

    I recently had my first Reiki session. It was an incredible experience – something I totally wasn't expecting. One thing that I want to share with you was the impression she had when she was at my root chakra. She felt feet walking on her hand like someone who is searching for something. I thought this was so interesting because I seem to be forever looking for the answer to my issues/questions. Over the years, I have bought many spiritual books, attended conferences and pursued the answer any way possible. Recently, I've been reminded that the answer is inside. As Gangaji says "Stop – stop searching". We are a socierty of self help books, Oprah channels and Dr. Phil/Oz addictions. They are all well and good and have their place but being reminded that "Nothing in this world can purify as powerfully as wisdom; practiced in yoga you will find this wisdom within yourself." I just love that.
    Another stanza that stands out to me is "He who is rooted in oneness realizes that I am in every being, wherever he goes, he remains in me." I really am drawn to this because I see that so well in animals. I don't know why with animals it comes naturally and not with people : ).

    • Thanks for your insightful comments, Sue.

      Every time I read the Gita it astounds me all over again, especially so when I was kind of confused and started arranging the stanzas by theme as we're doing here. Then everything started jumping off the page at me with startling clarity.

      Then it becomes even more amazing when I read a biography of Einstein, the ultimate modern thinker, and his conclusions are very close to those in the Gita about the very nature of our world.

      Bob W.
      Yoga Editor

  3. Bob, such good timing on this, last week I attended conference with the head of the lineage of ashtanga and he had the same message, for every question he would say "do yoga", and the answers will come just like the Gita saying here to "practice yoga and the right answer will come", it is the universal message, thank you for reminding us!

  4. […] Gita in a Nutshell #10: The Yoga of Understanding (Jnana) […]

  5. […] Previous: #10: The Yoga of Understanding. […]

  6. […] The Yoga of Understanding (Jnana) (GN #10) 4.33, 4.37-39, 4.42, 5.4-5, 6.29-32, 7.2, 9.2, 9.15, 10.7-8, 10.10-11, 18.55, 18.70 […]

  7. […] he was something else as well: a Jnana yogi— one who finds the divine through the […]

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