The means to liberation is Jnana, say the scriptures. But the means to gain this knowledge is the biggest challenge. When Adi Sankara interpreted scriptural knowledge and propounded the Advaita philosophy of non-dualism, he paved the way for a better understanding of the truth of the Supreme Brahman as the only truth existing beyond Time and Place. Since this lofty philosophic thought is not to be easily grasped, it has to be explained by knowledgeable preceptors repeatedly to the deserving disciples, pointed out Sri R. Krishnamurthy Sastrigal in a lecture.
Even as the light from a lamp dispels darkness, Jnana causes ignorance to disappear. Viewed in this respect, it appears as though Jnana and Karma are distinct and not inter-related and are like parallel lines.
But Jnana is no doubt the ideal to be attained for liberation. However, the process of enlightenment has to happen in one's consciousness even as one lives in this world of senses.
For this to happen, Lord Krishna advises practice of Karma Yoga in the proper spirit — engaging in one's prescribed duties in a detached manner but with total commitment and relinquishing not only the fruits of the acts but also the ownership which one naturally holds when one acts.
This attitude is the ideal to be practised by the ordinary human being and when it becomes automatic and fixed in one's consciousness, one moves closer to the path of Jnana. All of us have to engage in action and this leads to Karma, says Krishna.
The Self, which is the essence of consciousness, is the subtle force that animates the entire personality of the individual — physical and intellectual. This Self is also the silent witness and is aware of the innermost thoughts and feelings of the individual.
When the ego sense attaches itself to the physical, mental and intellectual entity of the individual, the identity with the Self is temporarily lost. In the enlightened state, there is total merger of the ego sense with the Self — when there is no relationship with the material world whatsoever.