Sravana alone can result in Self-Realisation! Sri Ramana Maharshi on Sravana, Manana and Nididhyasana

Sri Ramana Maharshi

Tom: Sravana refers to hearing the teaching. Manana refers to reflecting upon and thinking that teaching which has been heard. Nididhyasana refers to prolonged meditation upon the Self, which culminates in Samadhi.

Here is a quote from Sri Ramana Maharshi taken from Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, Talk no. 249:

The effects of sravana may be immediate and the disciple realises the truth all at once. This can happen only for the well-advanced disciple.

[Tom: later Sri Ramana explains that this means that the advanced/ripe seeker immediately goes into Samadhi, which is the same as abiding as the Self, as soon as the teaching is heard]

Otherwise, the disciple feels that he is unable to realise the truth, even after repeatedly hearing it. What is it due to? Impurities in his mind: ignorance, doubt and wrong identity are the obstacles to be removed.

(a) To remove ignorance completely, he has to hear the truth repeatedly, until his knowledge of the subject-matter becomes perfect

(b) to remove doubts, he must reflect on what he has heard; ultimately his knowledge will be free from doubts of any kind;

(c) to remove the wrong identity of the Self with the non-self (such as the body, the senses, the mind or the intellect) his mind must become one-pointed. All these things accomplished, the obstacles are at an end and samadhi results, that is, Peace reigns.

Some say that one should never cease to engage in hearing, reflection and one-pointedness. These are not fulfilled by reading books, but only by continued practice to keep the mind withdrawn.

The aspirant may be kritopasaka or akritopasaka. The former is fit to realise the Self, even with the slightest stimulus: only some little doubt stands in his way, it is easily removed if he hears the truth once from the Master. Immediately he gains the samadhi state. [Tom: Sri Ramana is stating that by listening alone, or by some other minimal stimulus, the ripe seeker spontaneously goes into samadhi without the need for the intermediary steps of reflecting upon the teachings or meditating upon them.] It is presumed that he had already completed sravana, reflection, etc. in previous births, they are no more necessary for him.

For the other all these aids are necessary; for him doubts crop up even after repeated hearing; therefore he must not give up aids until he gains the samadhi state. Sravana removes the illusion of the Self being one with the body, etc. Reflection makes it clear that Knowledge is Self. One-pointedness reveals the Self as being Infinite and Blissful.

The importance of Manana (contemplating the teachings)

This is a very important verse from Shankara. Most people concentrate on the point being made about samadhi when reading this verse, but note how it states that manana is ‘one hundred times’ superior to sravana.

Yesterday in Satsang, we were talking about manana and how we can do this more effectively, and how this naturally will lead to nididhyasana and then samadhi and then full realisation. You will start to find that the motivation to do practice will increase.

Thinking about the teachings, seeing the tricks the ego keeps on playing on you to perpetuate itself, seeing the very nature of the ego for yourself, writing this all down and reflecting upon it means the ego has less room to manoevure. Write down all your thoughts, write down all your insights, get it all on paper.

At this point in the teaching it is helpful to do this as the mind, being very fickle and forgetful will quickly forget the insights you have previously made, thus perpetuating itself.

As you engage with this aspect of the teaching, you will see how just powerful it indeed is, how the ego has less and less room to move in, how the ego weakens naturally, and how peace and love more and more come into you, merging with your very Being.

Namaste 🙏

Ramana Maharshi: Peace is your true nature

Ramana letters

Yesterday, two pandits came from Kumbakonam. This morning at 9 o’clock, they approached Bhagavan and said, “Swami, we take leave of you. We pray that you may be pleased to bless us that our mind may merge or dissolve itself in shanti [peace]”

Bhagavan nodded his head as usual. After they had left, he said, looking at Ramachandra Iyer,

Shanti is the original state. If what comes from outside is rejected what remains is peace. What then is there to dissolve or merge? Only that which comes from outside has to be thrown out.

“If people whose minds are mature are simply told that the swarupa itself is shanti, they get jnana. It is only for immature minds that sravana (listening to the teachings) and manana (reflecting upon the teachings) are prescribed, but for mature minds there is no need of them. If people at a distance enquire how to go to Ramana Maharshi, we have to tell them to get into such and such a train or take such and such a path, but if they come to Tiruvannamalai, reach Ramanasramam and step into the hall, it is enough if only they are told, here is that person. There is no need for them to move any farther.”

“Sravana and manana mean only those described in Vedanta, don’t they?” asked some one. “Yes,” Bhagavan replied, “but one thing, not only are there outward sravana and manana but there are also inward sravana [listening] and manana [thinking]. They must occur to a person as a result of the maturity of his mind. Those that are able to do that antara sravana (hearing inwardly) do not have any doubts.”

Whenever any one asked what those antara sravanas are, he used to say, “Antara sravana means the knowledge of that Atma which is in the cave of the heart always illuminated with the feeling ‘aham, aham’ (‘I, I’), and to get that feeling to be in one’s heart is manana, and to remain in one’s self is nididhyasa [meditation].

In this connection, it is worth while remembering the sloka [verse] written by Bhagavan bearing on this subject. In that sloka mention is made not only to Atma sphurana [the vibration of the Self] but also how to secure it. Securing means only remaining in one’s own self:

Brahman is glowing lustrously in the middle of the cave of the Heart in the shape of the Self, always proclaiming ‘I am, I am’. Become an Atmanishta, a Self-realised person, either by making the mind absorbed in the search of the Self or by making the mind drown itself through control of the breath.

19th July 1947, Letters from Sri Ramanasramam