What is jnana yoga? It is the yoga through which spashtata, mental clarity, viveka, discrimination, and samajh, understanding, develop. These three things are the outcome of jnana yoga, as once you understand the nature of your own mind you are in a position of strength to change that nature also.
One practice of jnana yoga is to become the drashta, the observer. When you are the bhokta, the enjoyer, there is no jnana in that. There are two terms in yoga: karta, one who does, and bhokta, one who enjoys. Right now you are the doer and the enjoyer both. When you begin to observe yourself, you begin to see yourself doing, you become the observer of your doership and the doer nature, and you also become the observer of your bhokta nature, the enjoyment that you crave and seek.
In jnana yoga meditation, an attempt is made to become the drashta of oneself. It is different from pratyahara. Here you have to emphasize to yourself, ‘This is what I am and not what I experience myself to be.’ An example: you are hungry and you are meditating. You are aware of your hunger. Your mind is travelling to your stomach again and again, you can hear all the sounds of your hunger pangs.
Now if you are observing this as a drashta, you will be saying to yourself, ‘I am observing my hunger, I am feeling the hunger, I am experiencing the hunger’, but you will not be in panic mode. You will not stop the meditation practice and run to eat something. If you go into panic mode, then you are not the drashta anymore.
Therefore, being the drashta is not just awareness but a detached awareness. Remember that. People think that to be the drashta is just to become aware. No. The drashta awareness is actually a detached awareness so that the inputs of pleasure, bhoga, are not being received by the mind, you are not being pulled towards them or repelled by them, you are simply observing them.
The jnana yoga meditations begin with drashta bhava, then they develop the idea of shuddhata, purity, and then they develop clarity, discrimination and understanding. The foundation of jnana yoga is purity, then come other components and practices.
From the book “Yoga Chakra 3, The Seven Foundations of Jnana Yoga”, pg. 31-32, Sw. Niranjanananda Saraswati