The jnana yoga student should equip himself with the four means of salvation in order to be fit to receive the knowledge of Brahman. These four means are called Sadhana Chatushtaya. Sadhana chatushtaya is the foundation of the practice of jnana yoga. It is very important for the beginner and no one is too advanced for these important qualifications.
The student can work on these practices all at once or as a series. For example starting with the first one for a week or two, or for a month, then proceeding with the second one for the same period of time, and so on.
The Four Means:
Viveka means discrimination. This is the intellectual ability to discriminate, or discern, between the real and the unreal. Vedanta defines the real as being permanent and the unreal as being temporary. The absolutely real, Brahman, is eternal. It lasts for ever.
Vairagya means dispassion, detachment. There is a logical order in the four means. After sufficient practice of viveka, the temporary, ephemeral nature of the world and its objects becomes obvious and a natural lack of attraction to them takes place. This is vairagya. One should then endeavor to become more dispassionate in order to purify the mind and improve one’s concentration and steadiness of mind.
Shad-sampat means the six virtues. This practice actually consists in developing six qualities or virtues. They are:
- Sama – Tranquility or control of mind. Calmness. This is the ability to keep the mind within and unaffected by the external world.
- Dama – Control of the senses. This consists in not letting the senses run out towards the sense objects. To the question, “Why do we need to control the senses when we can directly work on sama and control the mind itself – the mind being superior and more powerful than the senses?”, the vedantins answer: If one were able to control the mind perfectly, dama would be unnecessary, otherwise it is a more powerful strategy to work on the mind apparatus from all sides.
- Uparati – Renunciation of activities which are not duties. Following the last two practices, the mind is so peaceful and calm most desires have been eradicated and there is no more reason to perform the activities in which most people indulge.
- Titiksha – Endurance, forbearance of the pairs of opposites. The mind must become strong enough to not waver in the face of the opposites: success and failure, hot and cold, pleasure and pain, sunshine and rain, etc.
- Shraddha – Faith. It is defined by Sri Sankaracharya as faith in one’s guru, god, the self (atman) and the scriptures (shastras).
- Samadhana – Perfect concentration, one-pointedness of the mind. It takes a great degree of mastery to reach this level. Few reach it.
Mumukshutva means intense longing for liberation. When this stage is reached, moksha (liberation ) is not one of the jnani’s desires, it is not even the biggest desire, it is the only desire.