Jñānam annam ज्ञानमन्नम्॥ (sūtra II.9)

Jñānam – food; annam – food.

Śiva sūtra I.2 said Jñānam bandhaḥ, which was explained as 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 sūtra. Hence knowledge acquired through sensory perceptions are said to be limited because of the influence of māyā or illusion.

This sūtra says that such a type of knowledge becomes the food of a yogi. This sūtra can be explained this way. The food is consumed and offered as oblation into the ever persisting digestive fire within. What is needed is assimilated (it can also be interpreted as digested. But assimilation is used because this happens in the area of mind) and what is not needed is excreted. Deluded knowledge attaches more importance to physical body, as it is derived through senses. Deluded knowledge also includes the cessation of the existence of the physical body, a natural process called death. If one thinks about his physical body, he naturally fears for death. Any thought process associated with experiences of the body is to be offered as oblations into the internal fire. What remains after the completion of the oblations is the thought of oneness with Śiva, as other thoughts are now burnt. Such repeated affirmations leading to effectual thought process of oneness with the Supreme is the assimilated knowledge discussed above.

This aphorism is also interpreted to mean that knowledge of one’s own self is his food. It is important to understand that none can continue to exist without sensory perceptions. At the same time sensory perceptions should not afflict spiritual pursuits as spirituality blossoms forth only in the mental arena. The conjugation of self and Self takes place only in the spiritual arena. Mind is the playground of Śiva and Śaktī, hence It has to remain eternally pure.

Patañjali says, “the forms of concentration that bring extraordinary sense perception cause perseverance of the mind (I.35). The mind stuff that is free from all attachments to sense-perceptions (I.37) lead to True Nature.” The quality of one’s awareness is highly significant. Constant awareness leads to addiction, the abnormal craving. If one fixes his awareness on Śiva, he metamorphoses into Śiva Himself.

The entire spirituality is confined to the quality of mind and its cognitive operation. If one repeatedly affirms that he is God, he becomes God by acquiring the attributes of God who is nourished by Jñāna annam alone.