The role of the key to opening the “box of Vedanta” is played by a Guru ! So Jnana-yoga is the method of gaining knowledge by enquiring into Vedanta with the help of a Guru. To seek self-knowledge, learning from a competent guru is essential. The teacher gives direct knowledge and if both the teacher and the student are competent, the very communication will lead to an instantaneous Self-discovery. If we want knowledge on the Himalayas, say a remote place, what we read from books is always indirect knowledge. If we want direct knowledge we must ourselves go to the Himalayas and acquire ! The same applies for Self. If the Self is remote, then the study of the scriptures will only give an indirect knowledge. So to get direct knowledge, we must meet the Self ! But Self is not a remote object, but my own intrinsic nature ! So, when we learn about a thing which is intimately available, then the knowledge gained is direct. Hence we can conclude that words can give direct knowledge when the object of knowledge is already experienced in front. Jnana-Yoga involves 3 stages: Sravanam: Sravanam is consistent and systematic study of the scriptures for a length of time under the guidance of a competent guru. This is the journey of guru and student together. The student is likely to get many doubts initially. Instead of asking the guru, he should make a note of all the doubts. As the teaching opens up new vistas, new information is unfolded and all doubts get cleared ! Faith in the scriptures and the teacher is essential. Once the student has done a complete comprehensive study of the teaching, all his questions will be answered. The student is convinced to accept the teaching. Mananam: After sravanam, the student can come out with any number of questions. All the doubts are “ attacked” by questioning. This is called mananam. This goes on until the student is convinced without any doubt, about the teaching. Now the conviction has come that I can be independent. But having been addicted to dependence, it is difficult to be independent. Slowly I have to learn to come out of dependence. Nididhyasanam: The knowledge contained in the scripture and obtained from a guru can make you a well-informed person. But for spiritual transformation, you need to put in considerable effort in reflection and contemplation upon the knowledge received. Lord Krishna pronounces this truth in his words You must raise yourself by yourself. The student goes through the withdrawal symptoms of dependence and learns to handle them. This is the discovery of true independence. Gradually he learns to drop dependences arising out of fear. He discovers that he can live alone, without people around. In short Nididhyasanam: helps in converting knowledge into emotional strength. Thus after going through Sravanam, Mananam and Nididhyasanam:, a person becomes liberated and is called Jivanmuktah. Love, Chithra.