From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

In Indian philosophy and religion, jñāna (Sanskrit: ज्ञान, pronounced [ɡjɑ́ː.n̪ɐ] or [d͡ʑɲɑ́ː.n̪ɐ]) (Pali: ñāṇa) (Hindi: gyān)[1] is "knowledge".

The idea of jnana centers on a cognitive event which is recognized when experienced. It is knowledge inseparable from the total experience of reality, especially a total or divine reality (Brahman).[2]

The root jñā- is cognate to English know, as well as to the Greek γνώ- (as in γνῶσις gnosis) and Russian знание. Its antonym is ajñāna "ignorance".

In Buddhism[edit]

In Tibetan Buddhism, it refers to pure awareness that is free of conceptual encumbrances, and is contrasted with vijnana, which is a moment of 'divided knowing'. Entrance to, and progression through the ten stages of Jnana/Bhimis, will lead one to complete enlightenment and nirvana.[3]

In the Vipassanā tradition of Buddhism there are the following ñanas according to Mahasi Sayadaw.[4] As a person meditates these ñanas or "knowledges" will be experienced in order. The experience of each may be brief or may last for years and the subjective intensity of each is variable. Each ñana could also be considered a jhāna although many are not stable and the mind has no way to remain embedded in the experience. Experiencing all the ñanas will lead to the first of the Four stages of enlightenment then the cycle will start over at a subtler level.[4]

  1. Analytical Knowledge of Body and Mind (nama-rupa-pariccheda-ñana) (corresponds to 1st jhana)
  2. Knowledge by Discerning Conditionality (paccaya-pariggaha-ñana)
  3. Knowledge by Comprehension (sammasana-ñana)
  4. Knowledge of Arising and Passing Away (udayabbaya-ñana) (corresponds to 2nd jhana)
  5. Knowledge of Dissolution (bhanga-ñana) (corresponds to 3rd jhana)
  6. Awareness of Fearfulness (bhayatupatthana-ñana)
  7. Knowledge of Misery (adinava-ñana)
  8. Knowledge of Disgust (nibbida-ñana)
  9. Knowledge of Desire for Deliverance (muncitu-kamyata-ñana)
  10. Knowledge of Re-observation (patisankhanupassana-ñana)
  11. Knowledge of Equanimity about Formations (sankhar'upekkha-ñana) (corresponds to 4th jhana)
  12. Insight Leading to emergence (vutthanagamini-vipassana-ñana)
  13. Knowledge of Adaptation (anuloma-ñana) (one-time event)
  14. Maturity Knowledge (gotrabhu-ñana) (one-time event)
  15. Path Knowledge (magga-ñana) (one-time event)
  16. Fruition Knowledge (phala-ñana) (corresponds to Nibbāna)
  17. Knowledge of Reviewing (paccavekkhana-ñana)

In Hinduism[edit]

Sahu explains:

Prajnanam iti Brahman - wisdom is the soul/spirit. Prajnanam refers to the intuitive truth which can be verified/tested by reason. It is a higher function of the intellect that ascertains the Sat or Truth in the Sat-Chit-Ananda or truth-consciousness-bliss, i.e. the Brahman/Atman/Self/person [...] A truly wise person [...] is known as Prajna - who has attained Brahmanhood itself; thus, testifying to the Vedic Maha Vakya (great saying or words of wisdom): Prajnanam iti Brahman.[5]

Jnana yoga (Yoga of Knowledge) is one of the three main paths (margas), which are supposed to lead towards moksha (liberation) from material miseries. The other two main paths are Karma yoga and Bhakti Yoga. Rāja yoga (classical yoga) which includes several yogas, is also said to lead to moksha. It is said that each path is meant for a different temperament of personality.

In Jainism[edit]

According to the Jain texts like Tattvārthsūtra and Sarvārthasiddhi, knowledge is of five kinds:[6]

  • Kevala Jnana (Omniscience)
  • Śrutu Jñāna (Scriptural Knowledge)
  • Mati Jñāna (Sensory Knowledge)
  • Avadhi Jñāna (Clairvoyance)
  • Manah prayāya Jñāna (Telepathy)

In Islam[edit]

Also derived from the word jnana is the term ginan, meaning gnosis. Ginans are the sacred literature of the Nizari Ismailis Muslims, and treat topics including divine love, cosmology, rituals, eschatology, ethical behavior and meditation. Ranging from three verses to hundreds of pages, ginans are attributed to the Pirs, who were second only to the Imams in Ismaili hierarchy. Ginan carries a similar sense as the Arabic Ismaili term haqa’iq, meaning true or supreme knowledge. [7]

In Sikhism[edit]

Gyan or Gian refers to spiritual knowledge. It is mentioned throughout the Guru Granth Sahib.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Gyan – definition of gyan in English". Oxford Dictionaries. Retrieved 2016-08-23.
  2. ^ "jnana (Indian religion) - Britannica Online Encyclopedia". Britannica.com. Retrieved 2012-05-15.
  3. ^ Gampopa's "Jewel Ornament of Liberation", especially the ten bhumis, where the absorption state or non-dual state, which characterizes all ten bhumis, in this well-respected traditional text, is equated to the state of jnana
  4. ^ a b The Progress of Insight: (Visuddhiñana-katha), by The Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw, translated from the Pali with Notes by Nyanaponika Thera (1994; 33pp./99KB)
  5. ^ Sahu 2004, p. 41.
  6. ^ Jain, S.A. (1992). Reality_JMT. Jwalamalini Trustp=16.
  7. ^ Virani, Shafique N. “Symphony of Gnosis: A Self-Definition of the Ismaili Ginān Literature.” Chap. 55. In Reason and Inspiration in Islam: Theology, Philosophy and Mysticism in Muslim Thought. Edited by Todd Lawson, 503-521. London: I.B. Tauris in association with Institute of Ismaili Studies, 2005. https://www.academia.edu/36984287/Symphony_of_Gnosis_A_Self_Definition_of_the_Ismaili_Ginan_Literature


  • Anna Dallapiccola, Dictionary of Hindu Lore and Legend (ISBN 0-500-51088-1)
  • Loy, David (1997), Nonduality. A Study in Comparative Philosophy, Humanity Books
  • Sahu, Bhagirathi (2004), The New Educational Philosophy, Sarup & Sons

External links[edit]