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WHAT IS THE THREEFOLD PROCESS OF SRAVANA, MANANA,NIDIDHYASANA(Learning, understanding and realisatio


NEED OF SRAVANA,MANANA& NIDIDHYASANA Contemplation: Sravana – Manana – Nididhyasana The process of contemplation, vichāra, is a threefold process that leads you to a state of silent contemplation through a process that first uses words. Sravana First the jnanendriyas are used. Hearing, seeing and feeling are used to receive wisdom. Through words the wisdom of the ultimate reality is offered to the student, either through a living form of a master, teacher, coach or through the sacred texts.

Our tradition has been an oral tradition for thousands of years. Nowadays, a lot of texts are available in print. Thus, the student can start to explore for herself. Yet notice that most texts of Advaita Vedanta, and lots of other texts are an “Upanishad”. One of the meanings of the word Upanishad is to sit nearby, sitting at the feet of. These ancient texts are dialogues between realized masters and sincere seekers. Thus, go ahead and explore, but there will come a time that sitting nearby a person who can offer you this wisdom orally is needed to grasp the teaching more fully.Receiving the wisdom on which you contemplate is called sravana.

Once shravaNam has been completed the job of the shastra and the guru is over. In the Kena Upanishad, the student actually asks the Guru after the teaching is concluded: “Sir, please tell me about the Upanishad” and the guru confirms that “I have already given you that instruction about Brahman”!

Suppose a student says: I have completely understood tat tvam asi – now what? Well, now you go back to class and hear all over again! – why? Because you still have understood nothing! If tat tvam asi is understood, it means I have understood myself to be akarta [not a doer], abhokta [not an enjoyer], nitya asa~Ngah [forever unattached], nitya shuddhi [ forever pure], and nitya mukta [forever free] etc. If after this my question is ‘what now?’, then with certitude this understanding is incomplete.

Here, we need to understand the relationship between knowledge and its result because there seem to be some misconceptions about this in many people. This relationship is of two types: pratipAdya-pratipAdaka sambandha.pratipAdya means 'that which is to be revealed', while pratipAdaka means 'that which reveals'. The moment we catch the implied meaning, (not the primary meaning) of tat tvam asi, that very moment the Truth is as though attained. So, knowledge gained from shravaNa alone is primary. Hence alone does Shankara begin the brahmasutra bhAShya with his famous treatise on adhyAsa because, without establishing adhyAsa as a fact, there is no way to establish the knowledge gained from the mahAvAkya-s, which is direct and immediate, as the means to liberation or mukti. And, once it is established that the only and immediate means to mokSha is understanding of the mahAvAkya-s, then there is only one primary means to mokSha and that is shravaNa. If someone thinks that, after getting knowledge one has to perform some actions or sAdhanA, then more shravaNa is needed, till the real implication has been correctly and comprehensively understood. Hence alone does shraddhA assume paramount importance – for the words to reveal themselves, one must surrender to them and allow them to work.

Now there is a misconception among many (even within the fold of Vedanta) that the knowledge of ‘tat tvam asi’ so gained is only ‘indirect’ or ‘intellectual’ – parokSha j~nAnam - and it has to be converted by meditation into direct knowledge or aparokSha j~nAnam. Or that mere book knowledge only produces j~nAnam and what is needed is put that into practice to gain vij~nAna! Some stock examples will also be provided, such as that one will not get a taste of a mango fruit by mere book knowledge - only by tasting it can it be known. Shankara categorically dismisses this (in his upadesha sAhasrI): The Bliss of liberation is not obtained after ascertaining the meaning of the sentence (tat tvam asi) unlike the satisfaction which is felt by eating. (Sankara's reply) Indirect knowledge, it is true, is the result produced by the sentences regarding the non-Self but it is not so in the case of those regarding the Innermost self. It is, on the other hand, direct and certain knowledge like that in the case of the tenth boy.

Proponents of such types of misconstrued and misconceived views of Vedanta will say shravaNam is hearing the mahAvAkya, mananam is understanding these words and nididhyAsanam is intensely meditating on those words till a mystic experience of the Atman – Atma sAkShAtkAra [realization of Atma] - is attained… at some point in time. What leads to mokSha, then, is the actual special Atman "experience" brought about by the meditation (nididhyAsana), not the understanding of the mahAvAkya (shravaNa) itself!

Once again, this is extremely misleading. Using the tenth man example, parokSha j~nAnam or indirect knowledge is simply the instruction that the tenth man very much is alive – confirming the presence of the tenth man. So when the shruti talks about brahman as the substratum, as satyam, that ‘sarvam khalvidam Brahman’ [all this Brahman alone] etc, that is parokSha j~nAnam. What then is aparokSha j~nAnam? The understanding that ‘that’ Brahman is ‘me’ alone! - in other words the understanding of ‘aham brahmAsmi’. Again, going back to the tenth man example, when the true identity of the tenth man is revealed and that too as myself and when this is understood, that alone is aparokSha j~nAnam. Manana When these words are received, the seeker will have to sit with these words. She can use the karmendriya of inner speech to chew on these words. Learning to have a dialogue with these words of wisdom will reveal the knowledge that is packed within these words. The mystery of the universe slowly unfolds in the understanding of the seeker when s/he quietly contemplates on the nature of the Non-dual Reality. This process of using the mind and its instrument to contemplate on this wisdom with the use of words is called manana.It is not an independent logical analysis but a progressive and gradual removal of these internal intellectual obstacles by taking recourse to the teaching already assimilated during the process of shravanam - by a constant dwelling on the Vedantic teaching and by means of questioning the guru as well. Nididhyasana Finally nididhyAsana is needed, fully to internalize and assimilate the teaching.An ignorant jIva – one lacking in self-knowledge – cannot do nididhyAsana. Hence, there is no equating nididhyAsana with meditation - Yogic, etc or any other method that has not been preceded by vedAnta shravaNa-manana. The steady recollection of Self-knowledge, by a constant flow of the mind towards the Self, enabled with renunciation and dispassion, serves to counter the residual effects of prior karma. Playing with words to unravel the unknown of the Non-dual Reality will lead the student to a state in which a knowing is present without needing words. The words used during contemplation, if the seeker allows it, can fall away and will lead the seeker to silence. A silence filled with knowing. The seeker can rests in this knowing. This state is known as nididhyasana. SAksAtkAra Mandukya Upanishad;- First, an aspirant attentively listens to the sayings of the Upanishads from a preceptor who is Brahman-conscious all the time. In the second step, he practices vichāra (contemplation), which means that he goes to the depths of the great sayings and determines to practice them with mind, action, and speech. One-pointed devotion, full determination, and dedication lead him to the higher step called nididhyāsana. Here he acquires comprehensive knowledge of the Ultimate Truth. But he has not yet attained the final step of consciousness that leads him to the direct realization of the one self-existent Truth without second. The highest state of contemplation is called sāksātkāra. In this state, perception and conceptualization are in complete agreement, and all the doubts from all levels of understanding vanish forever. At this height of knowledge, truth reveals itself to the aspirant, and perfect realization is accomplished, “I am Ātman—I am Brahman.” This state of advaita is attained by the process of contemplation.------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Nididhyasana

"By Shravana, Knowledge dawns. That is the flame. By Manana, the Knowledge is not allowed to vanish. Just as the flame is protected by a wind-screen, so the other thoughts are not allowed to overwhelm the right knowledge. By Nididhyasana, the flame is kept up to burn bright by trimming the wick. Whenever other thoughts arise, the mind is turned inward to the light of true knowledge...The inquiry “Who am I?” is the Shravana. The ascertainment of the true import of ‘I’ is the Manana. The practical application on each occasion is Nididhyasana."

Nididhyasana has two components. The first is the rejection of what is false. The practitioner rejects the false identification with the "Sharira" or body etc. thus --- I am not the "Sharira" or the body. I am not the "Sthula Sharira" or the gross body": I am not long, I am not short, I am not thin, I am not fat, I have no caste, I am not dark-skinned nor am I fair-skinned. I have no race. I am not the "Sukshma Sharira" or the subtle body: I am not the "Manas" or mind, I am not the "Buddhi" or intellect, I am not the "Chitta" or mind-stuff, I am not the "Ahamkara" or egoism. I am not the "Karana Sharira" or the causal body: I am not the "Ajnana" or ignorance which is the cause of this false existence. I am not the "Sthula Sharira" (gross body), I am not the "Sukshma Sharira" (subtle body), I am not the "Karana Sharira" (causal body).

The second component of Nididhyasana is constant "Nischaya" or determination of identifying with the truth or Brahman. The seeker asserts this by "sthiti" or continuously staying mentally in this manner: I am the Atman (soul or self or spirit), the "Drashta" or observer. I am "Shuddha" or pure, "Buddha" or enlightened, "Mukta" or free, without birth, "Akriya" or without actions, "Asanga" or without company, "Advitiya" or without a second, "BRAHMA-Rupa" or of the form of Brahman. I am the light of knowledge which dispels the ignorance which has been my cause of bondage to the gross / subtle / causal bodies since beginningless time. Now that I know that I am Shuddha (pure), Buddha (enlightened), Mukta (free), Asanga / Advitiya (without a second), I know that I am one with that (Brahman). I know Brahman. Brahmavid Brahmaiva Bhavati: One who knows Brahman, becomes Brahman. I am one with Brahman. I am Brahman. Aham Brahmaasmi (I am Brahman --- without the ego). My ego (subtle body) is falling off; my ignorance (causal body) is vanishing; I am free. I am free. EXERCISE ONE So, Nididhyasana is constant meditation in the following manner (YOU CAN TREAT THE FOLLOWING AS A MANTRA, COMMIT IT TO THE MIND, AND REPEAT IT AS OFTEN AS YOU LIKE): OM... OM... OM... I am not the Sthula, Sukshma, or Karana Sharira. I am not the Manas, I am not the Buddhi, I am not the Chitta, I am not the Ahamkara. I am the Atman, I am the Drashta, I am Shuddha, I am Buddha, I am Mukta, I am Akriya, I am Asanga, I am Advitiya, I am BRAHMA-Rupa. I know BRAHMAN. AHAM BRAHMAASMI... AHAM BRAHMAASMI... AHAM BRAHMAASMI... OM... OM... OM... Sam Yogi: The above can be applied when you are in strife, when things are not going your way, when things are going your way, and when you are on the top of the world. Don't just apply it when your servant kicks you around, but that could be a start?? EXERCISE TWO Assertions for Nididhyasana I am the Sun of suns, Light of lights-OM OM OM All Purity I am-OM OM OM All Bliss I am-OM OM OM All-pervading Consciousness I am-OM OM OM Satchidananda-Svarupoham-OM OM OM Akhanda Ekarasa Chinmatroham-M OM OM Bhumananda-Svarupoham -OM OM OM Aham Sakshi (I am witness)-OM OM OM Nirvisesha-Chinmatroham-OM OM OM Asangoham (I am Unattached)-OM OM OM LIVE IN OM Live within. Live in the Spirit. Meditate on Atman, the Reality (Svarupa Dhyana). Make Mano-Japa of Om-Pranava (Manasika Japa). Chant Om. Sing Om. Feel Om. Eat Om. Walk Om. Breathe Om. Sleep Om. Befriend Om. The uninterrupted practice of meditation 'I am Brahman' destroys the Vikshepa of Avidya (tossing or distraction caused by ignorance), just as the elixir of life (Rasayana) cures all diseases. Sitting in a solitary place, free from all passions, curbing the Indriyas (senses), one should meditate on that one infinite Atman, without thinking of anything else. A wise man should by his intelligence submerge in the Atman all that is seen and should always meditate on the One Atman that is like the pure, infinite ether.