3 Steps to Learning Vedanta

Education, today, is often reduced to a mere parroting of others’ ideas. Memorizing what others have said and claiming it to be ‘knowledge’. The word ‘education’ originally means ‘to draw out’ or ‘to lead out’ and not to merely stuff our minds with facts and figures.

 

True education can occur only when we take the right approach to learning. And this is even more important when learning a subtle subject such as Vedanta. There are three main steps in the learning process.

They are:

1. Sravana

2. Manana

3. Nidhidhyasana

 

Sravana,the intake of knowledge, is the first step in the learning process. The importance of this step cannot be overemphasized. In order to gain from Vedanta, it is imperative that we expose ourselves regularly to the knowledge. This can be through reading books on Vedanta or listening to or watching lectures on Vedanta. This stage is important because we are ultimately a function of the inputs we feed to ourselves. Just as the body is a function of the food that is ingested, the mind too is a function of the thoughts it is exposed to. At the same time, merely listening to lectures or reading books is of no use if one does not digest the knowledge. In fact, excessive reading or too many lectures can create confusion. It is important that we think about what we read or hear and this where the next step of the learning process begins.

 

Manana, reflecting on the knowledge is the second step in the learning process. The recommended time for the reflection on Vedantic knowledge is from 4 to 6 a.m. This period is called brahmamuhurta.It is the ideal time for absorbing and questioning the subtle concepts put forth in Vedanta. This is because the mind is not disturbed by the hustle and bustle of the day just yet. It is fresh from a good night’s sleep and free from other thoughts. It is also acknowledged as the time when the sattvika content in us manifests itself. A combination of these factors makes the early morning reflection most fruitful. It is the time we get to ourselves, free from our worldly commitments as parents, spouses, students etc. The time to think about how we can put the principles of Vedanta into practice in our everyday lives, question some concepts that we might find difficult to accept and think about how some of the concepts function in our lives.

 

The last stage in the learning process is nidhidhyasana, putting the knowledge into practice. Literally, nidhidhyasana means ‘meditation’. However, at a more relative level we can take it to mean putting the knowledge into practice. This is the most important stage of the learning process. True knowledge is what we are able to integrate in our day-to-day lives. Having immense knowledge about Vedanta without living the knowledge is like gold on a mule’s back. It is better to have little knowledge and apply it. Only then do we understand the true worth of Vedanta.

 

The pursuit of the knowledge of Vedanta must be propelled by the desire to constantly improve and better oneself as a human being. Immense is our potential, what we need to do is tap into it. We must pursue Vedanta and our goals for self-development with great enthusiasm and faith. And the fruit will be there for us to see.