Why You Need to Know Wisdom and Ignorance from Sage Patanjali

We all suffer from I know everything and I should have been asked mindset.

You meet such people regularly. Perhaps you yourself is one such person without your knowledge.

Piet Hein, a Danish scientist, put it stunningly,

“Those who always know what’s best are a universal pest.”

The real wisdom lies in what the great philosopher Socrates had said,

“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”

I know nothing is Wisdom and we are always in the mode of I know everything. The irony is we even believe I know everything is our wisdom on display.

the Eastern philosophy is different from the Western. Though views of the Socrates are accepted, our thoughts are deeper on the subject.

We all know about Yoga by Sage Patanjali and even practice regularly. But our knowledge about Yoga is limited to Aasna and Pranayama. It is the aim of this blog to expand the knowledge of Indian scriptures among common men.

In the series, we have written several posts about different limbs of YogasutraYama, Niyama, Pratyahara, and Samadhi.

To continue the mission today we will see what Sage Patanjali had to say about the 7 states of Wisdom.

Why is Wisdom vital?

“The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.” Isaac Asimov

Readers of this blog know Patanjali Yoga is about 8 limbs. These 8 limbs are divided into 4 Padas.

Samadhi Pada, Sadhana Pada, Vibhuti Pada, and Kaivalya Pada.

We will know more about Padas later.

In the 1st Samadhi Pada, Sage Patanjali has explained the basics of Yoga.

In the 2nd Sadhana Pada, the Sage talks about practices to achieve the final objective of Yoga. This includes 7 states of Ignorance (Avidya) & 7 states of Wisdom (Prajna). In this Pada, he also explains 8 limbs of Yoga practices known as Ashtangayoga.

If you know what the night means it becomes easier to understand what the day means. Likewise, before explaining what, these states are, the Sage explains what ignorance (Avidya) is.

It is an interesting read;

  • Smallness, feebleness, insignificance, inferiority, meanness
  • Unsteadiness, fickleness, mutability
  • Living with pains, afflictions, misery, agony
  • Living with the association of pain
  • Mistaking the perishable body as the self
  • Creating conditions for undergoing sorrow
  • Believing that union with the Soul is impossible and acting as though that were so

Patanjali says lack of spiritual understanding (Avidya) is the cause of false identification of the seer (soul) with the seen (body). The destruction of Ignorance with the right knowledge is the way to break the link binding the seer and the seen. This is what Kaivalya or Emancipation is. The ultimate objective of Yoga.

The right knowledge is the prerequisite to achieve the final goal of Yoga. Therefore, he goes on the explain the 7 states of Wisdom.

The seven states of Wisdom are;

  • Knowing that which has to be known
  • Discarding that which has to be discarded
  • Attaining that which has to be attained
  • Doing that which has to be done
  • Winning that goal that is to be won
  • Freeing the intelligence from the pull of the three gunas (Sattva, Rajas & Tamas) of nature
  • Achieving emancipation of the soul so that it shines in its own light.

The very 1st statement aptly explains why knowing the self is more important than knowing others. If you know the whole world but don’t know who you are i.e. Soul different from the body, the whole knowledge about the world is futile & this is Wisdom.

We are out to know the whole world. We think our expertise in worldly subjects, higher studies, studying in foreign universities,  make us knowledgeable.

Wisdom Body Soul
(Electricity is Different from the Bulb like the Soul ( Seer ) is different from the Body ( Seen ). Knowing this difference is Wisdom.)

But the real wisdom is knowing what is to be known.  What is to be known for our spiritual goal. Knowing the self different from the body is what is to be known. Leaving the world without the real knowledge of the self would be a blunder.

Shed your ignorance and know what is to be known.

Knowing the real self-different from the body is real wisdom. If this is not known remain in the state of Ignorance (Avidya) and keep suffering.

“Never having known my true nature, I have suffered endlessly.” Shrimad Rajchandra

The wisdom is to know the Self and do whatever it takes to attain this knowledge.  

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