Understanding Knowledge

It is said knowledge is power. However the case may not be so in yoga and spirituality. Knowledge may appear to give some lead in mundane life activities and survival, but existentially knowledge is a burden. Once we understand the meaning of knowledge in its various connotations, the knowledge as we commonly understand it, will no longer be something to make a cutthroat effort for.


Knowledge arises within us with the modification of mind. Whether it is tangible object or intangible inner mental states, their knowledge is the result of the change of mind (modal consciousness) corresponding to that object or inner state. Likewise knowledge is constantly arising within us as we are speaking, reading, seeing and thinking because simultaneously mind is assuming itself in these forms of speaking, reading and so on. Yoga is simply a process to mitigate and calm down all mental modifications to a point where there is no change at all happening with us and hence no arousal of any knowledge. And what is left after that is absolute Silence or our real Self. All knowledge that arises out of mental modification ends as information or theory. It cannot touch the core of our being. Traditionally in spiritual lore knowledge (Jnana) refers to Being, or realization of Brahman or Pure Consciousness. This knowledge is not the result of mental modifications. This knowledge is direct apprehension of our Being, our own Self, surpassing the role of mind and its modifications.

All this modified or acquired knowledge acts as a limiting adjunct. It divides, separates, and limits us from the whole. A doctor is limited by the knowledge of anatomy and physiology, a chemist is limited by the knowledge of molecules and compounds, a yogi is limited by the knowledge of asana and pranayama, a vedic scholar is limited by the knowledge of veda. Knowledge goes on limiting us from our cosmic, undivided, natural and impersonal state to the state of limitations, bondage, individuality and personality.

The school of Vedanta postulates that Brahman (Pure consciousness, Being, Self) which is cosmic in nature is limited by ignorance to become individualized soul. Here ignorance is used in a paradoxical way. Ignorance simply means that individualized self has knowledge of everything else in the world except what is inherent in it and hence has separated from its cosmic nature.

Self is beyond knowledge

When we look at animals, we see that knowledge is far more fix and rigid in them as compared to humans. That is why animals have no chance to evolve themselves consciously to greater awareness and realizations. There is no mechanism available to animals to free themselves from the clutches of ingrained knowledge. They act as slave. By birth a dog or a horse has knowledge about how to survive. A bird has knowledge and skill to build a nest. Knowledge is not so much ingrained in us and hence we can enjoy certain freedom over animals and this freedom is the opportunity we have. We can free up ourselves of all knowledge, of all skills, of all notions, of all ideas, of all thoughts, of all theories, of all learning, of all isms, of way of thinking and be liberated. Freedom is the goal in yoga. We have freedom “to do a certain work, not to do or do it in a different way”. We can learn and more importantly unlearn.

Yoga taps this freedom to help us renounce all limiting and superficial knowledge that we acquire overtime to realize our being. Once we touch our Being than we are master of the acquired knowledge and not its slave. Yoga is going back to that state of simplicity and innocence where we were not polluted by outside knowledge.

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