Svadhyaya – Study of the Self

Svadhyaya – Study of the Self

by Chandra Om

Svadhyaya is often translated as scriptural study, the actual reading of and reflecting upon the sacred books, as in the Vedas, Upanishads, Yoga Sutras, the Bible and other holy texts. This is preliminary Svadhyaya.

When done with concentration and faith, this form of Svadhyaya helps the student to maintain a psychic connection with the Masters who have authored these holy texts as well as the living link of the Gurus. These writings continually show the yogi the goal of yoga, and the practical steps that will lead them from the borrowed world of mortals and into the exalted spiritual state of God communion.

Swami Kailashananda

Practical application and implementation into daily life is what is required for success. When we study something we hold it in our attention and come to know something of it. Likewise, to immerse ourselves in scripture is to hold the attention to Divine ideas, thoughts and words.

Svadhyaya is the key that unlocks the treasure chest of Self-knowledge and reveals the secret to success in all Sadhana. Every thought makes an impression, leaving its indelible mark on the mind. These marks become dormant seeds, and very soon those seeds become watered with fresh actions. Svadhyaya plants new seeds in the mind of the Sadhaka (the ideas espoused in the scriptures) and these seeds habitually bear Divine fruit.

The highest svadhyaya is the study of the Self. As you inquire into your true nature through constant reflection on the nature of reality, the nature of the true Self is revealed. Gradually, through meditation, you realize the presence of the Eternal consciousness within.

In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna explains the study of the Self. As we study the five Koshas, and through meditation upon them, the continual negation and lack of identification with them reveals the illusory nature behind them. We soon see that all activities belong to the mind. Through meditation, the Yogi becomes very calm, and begins to realize this. That is the study of the Self.

The Self is formless. Action-less. Always the same. Bliss absolute. Like the space everywhere. All beings traveling in the Infinite ether keep coming, going, passing through space, but the space remains wholly unaffected by them. They are all in God, but God is not in them. The invisible presence of God, the sole Absolute, is beyond time, space and cause.

Svadhyaya reveals the truth of time, space, change and all separation. That is the purpose of meditation. Even if you experience the lower states of samadhi you may feel nice and charged with bliss, but may still not fully know who you are. In the earliest state of samadhi (Savikalpa), the mind is still there. Even the bliss experienced in this state is the mind. Svadhyaya reveals the ultimate truth—You are the cause of the bliss.