Jñānam bandhaḥ (जानं बन्धः) (sūtrā 2)
Jñānaṁ means knowledge and bandhaḥ means bondage. Knowledge here means the knowledge derived through sensory organs, the knowledge acquired through experience. This knowledge is different from supreme knowledge. Supreme knowledge is the experience of the mind and not derived through sensory experience. Knowledge conceived, nurtured and manifested by the mind remains uncontaminated with temporal matters such as bondage. This is where pure consciousness is consecrated that is referred in the previous sūtrā. Hence knowledge acquired through sensory perceptions are said to be limited because of the influence of māyā or illusion.
Knowledge acquired through sensory experience does not lead to liberation. The Supreme Self cannot be realised through the knowledge acquired through sensory experience, as the experience gained is not real. It is illusionary in nature caused by māyā. This is known as a-jñānaṁ or ignorance in spiritual parlance. Shiva Sūtrās call ajñānaṁ as mala. The correct interpretation of mala would be natural impurity. It is natural because, a person is born with natural impurity. In the process of his growth, either he gains supreme knowledge which is also called undifferentiated knowledge or differentiated knowledge which is also known as ignorance. It is ignorance about the Creator or the Brahman. Materialistic knowledge is totally different from spiritualistic knowledge. Any amount of materialistic knowledge gained cannot contribute to the spiritual knowledge. Spiritual knowledge is to be pursued through thought process alone. Desire for spiritual quest leads to search within. The basic inputs for spiritual quests are provided by Upanishads. Study of Upanishads is different from the study of scriptures. Upanishads are not narrative. They are crisp and to the point. They help the readers by affirmations and negations and make the divine revelation easier and simpler, leaving the process of emancipation to the readers by way exploration within. To pursue the path of realisation, this sūtrā says that one should have pure knowledge.
Mala is the cause for bondage. Ajñānaṁ is inborn and inherent quality. This mala can be removed only by pursuing the path of spirituality. Religious path is different from spiritual path. Spiritual path does not advocate any forms for the Brahman. Brahman is Self-illuminating, shining from within. To attain spiritual knowledge, nothing will help except searching and enquiring within.
The previous sūtrā said that pure consciousness is the Brahman. This sūtrā says that ignorance about the Absolute is the cause for bondage that makes one indulge in saṁsārā. Saṁsārā should not be misconstrued as family life. Saṃsārā means transmigratory existence, passing through succession of states, circuit of mundane existence etc.