Friday, 12 February 2016

Nidhidhyasanam - Vedantic meditation

Lord Krishna starts his reply to Arjuna’s question with this sloka, in the third chapter of Gita;

लोकेऽस्मिन्द्विविधा निष्ठा पुरा प्रोक्ता मयानघ। (Lokesmin dvividha nishta pura proktha mayanagha)
ज्ञानयोगेन सांख्यानां कर्मयोगेन योगिनाम्।।3.3।। (
Jnanayogena sankhyanam karmayogena yoginam)

“In the world twofold path has been enunciated by me Jnana yoga for Sankhyas and Karma yoga for other yogis”

One of the reasons for the distinction made between Jnana yoga and all other yogas grouped under Karma yoga is the Jnanam that is secured through the sadhanas.  In case of Jnana yoga it is Aparoksha Jnanam (direct knowledge) and in case of others it is Paroksha Jnanam (indirect knowledge).  We shall briefly see the difference between the two. In Paroksha Jnanam there is an action involved to enjoy the benefit of Jnanam. For example one hears about rasagulla and its taste.  Unless he gets one rasagulla and tastes it, this knowledge of rasagulla is only academic knowledge or just information.  Only when he gets and tastes one. he has direct experience.  In the case of Aparoksha Jnanam which is knowledge about oneself the very act of imbibing the knowledge makes one have the experience and reap the benefit.   For instance in the case of Karna who was lamenting that he was not a kshatriya because he was Radheya, son of a charioteer, Kunti’s revelation to him that he is her first-born makes him realize he is Kaunteya, and so a kshatriya, without any other action needed from him except mere grasping of this fact. 

The Jnanam one gets in Jnana Yoga is of a similar nature, the knowledge about one’s Self, Athma Jnanam.  Proper understanding and abidance in this knowledge in all circumstances itself enables one to reap the benefit of this knowledge.  And so it qualifies as Aparoksha Jnanam. But there is a catch.  The knowledge of Jeeva Brahma Ikyam is of a mind-boggling nature and is in total contradiction of one’s experience through senses.  One knows one is a mortal and has number of limitations, while Brahman is immortal and free from all limitations and Athma Jnanam reveals that one is in essence none other than Brahman and only the upadhi of body-mind complex makes one look, feel and act different.  So great mental and intellectual effort is required first to absorb it, second to resolve all the doubts that may arise from this understanding and finally to make it make it one’s own but when once that is achieved this knowledge transforms one from a samsari to a Jeevanmuktha.  That is why Yajnavalkya tells his wife Maitreyi in Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (2-4-5)
आत्मा वा अरे द्रष्टव्यः श्रोतव्यो मन्तव्यो निदिध्यासितव्यो मैत्रेयि, (The Self, Maitreyi, should be realized – should be heard of, reflected on and meditated upon;). 

This process of hearing, reflecting and meditating together constitute the sadhanas of Jnana Yoga, which are technically termed as Sravanam, Mananam and Nidhidhyasanam. We shall see briefly Sravanam and Mananam before going into Nidhidhyasanam. Sravanam is committed, consistent study of scriptures under a Guru for a length of time.  This is necessary so as not to misunderstand the words of scriptural text where in many places implied contextual meaning is to be taken and not literal meaning which will be misleading.  Mananam is resolving all the doubts in respect of the teaching either by reflection or by going back to the Guru and seeking clarification or through discussion with other students or through a combination of one or more of these methods. As mere academic understanding and mental conviction alone will not confer the benefits of the Athma Jnanam unless one is able to abide in it all the time unshaken by vasanas, one needs to meditate on this knowledge and make it one’s own.  Nidhidhyasanam is that meditation on this knowledge through which one gets firmly established in Athma Jnanam unassailed by doubts and unshaken by the outburst of residual vasanas at any time and lets one enjoy undisturbed the peace and bliss of Purnatvam.

The key knowledge gained during Sravanam and consolidated during Mananam is “Brahma Satyam, Jagan Mithya, Jeevo Brahmaiva na Parah”(Brahman alone is real, the world is Mitya, the individual Real Self is Brahman).  Brahman is Real, is easy to understand, remember and practice.  But to extend it to say Brahman alone is Real from which the other two flow is a difficult proposition.  Much more difficult is extending it to one’s individual Self.  So this knowledge that has already been gained in Sravanam and consolidated in Mananam is to be internalised and assimilated. Nidhidhyasanam is the process for this. So in Nidhidhyasanam no new knowledge is gained nor any new realization is attained, but one’s entrenched habitual body-mind identification as Self is removed and the residual vasanas are liquidated to enable constant abidance in Athma Jnanam.  Sri Sankara says in Viveka chudamani (verse 365) that Mananam is hundred times superior to Sravanam and Nidhidhyasanam hundred thousand times superior to Mananam.

Nidhidhyasanam, Vedantic meditation, is like what is referred to as Dhyana in Yoga Sutras. The mind is freed of thoughts of sense-objects and their enjoyments and there is only the chosen thought of meditation. This is a two stage process.  In the first stage there is the rejection of what is false. The sadhaka rejects the false identification with the "Sareeras" with the thought “I am not any of the Sareeras, Sthula, Sukshma or Karana”.  The second stage of Nidhidhyasanam is identifying one’s True Self with Suddha, Buddha, Nithya, Muktha Brahman. By staying continuously in this thought through meditation on one of the Mahavakhyas one becomes free of his habitual notions that hold sway over one’s   subconscious and blossoms into a Jeevanmuktha and stays in Divine bliss for ever as Bhaja Govindam says “यस्य ब्रह्मणि रमते चित्तं नन्दति नन्दति नन्दत्येव “(yasya Brahmani ramathe chitham, nandhati nandhati nandhatyeva) One whose mind is established in Brahman is always in bliss.

1 comment:

  1. Great and nice presentation on a difficult, spiritual proposition. Very informative, ennobling and enlivening post. Congrats and thanks.