What is Nididhyasana

Spiritual practice consists of three stages: shravana, manana, and nididhyasana. Since the Upanishads exhort one to do Nididhyasana, it is necessary to know the meaning of this word and what exactly is meant by the practice of nididhyasana. This is a Sanskrit word. Sanskrit is a classical language like Greek, Latin, and Persian. And in Sanskrit, as in most classical languages, most words are derived from a stem or root.  

The word nididhyasana is derived from the root dhyai, which means to think, imagine, contemplate, meditate, recollect, call to mind, and brood. Nididhyasana means profound and repeated meditation.

Nididhyasana follows manana. It is the stream of ideas of the same kind as those of Brahman, the ultimate Reality, and excludes ideas different from the kind as those of Brahman, like the material ideas of the body, mind, senses, intellect, and the like. Nididhyasana means understanding the meaning of the scriptures on the basis of the relation between the words and the sense in which they are expressed. This is done by a person who has already acquired the complete knowledge of the meaning of the scriptures through the stages of shravana and manana along with the spiritual disciplines of shama, dama, shraddha, titiksha, uparati, and samadhana. Nididhyasana does not mean simple meditation, though that is the etymological meaning. Nididhyasana means knowledge that has liberation or moksha as its aim and has no expectation. It can also be explained as meditation with the determination to attain moksha. It is the culmination of the practice of shravana and manana, and is an indirect intuition of Brahman.

Shravana is the principal because it is the consideration of a means of knowing and manana and nididhyasana are subsidiary because they only help to accomplish the fruit of shravana, that is, the knowledge of Brahman. It is also said that shravana and manana should be performed till the knowledge of Brahman manifests itself and nididhyasana is the final limit of performing shravana and manana. These two are said to culminate into nididhyasana after the repetition of the two. Shravana and manana are co-existent and nididhyasana is their culmination and the precedent of the knowledge of Brahman.

Nididhyasana is different from the meditation on a symbol or upasana. Here, one fixes the stream of ideas on the principle of the ultimate Reality, Brahman, to determine its true nature. The purpose of nididhyasana is to attain a direct vision of Brahman, by discarding everything else. After the rising of this knowledge, nothing else needs to be done, because one gets moksha. The metaphysical knowledge that results from nididhyasana results in immediate moksha or liberation. Nididhyasana can also be defined as the flow of uninterrupted knowledge arising from the meditation on Brahman. However, it is not the meditation or concentration on something separate as that would mean that there is a difference between Atman and Brahman, which are identical in reality. And so, nididhyasana should be understood to be becoming one with Brahman. Nididhyasana, therefore, means going beyond logic or rationality, beyond the subject-object duality. It is the realisation, comprehension, or understanding of the ultimate Reality after the analysis of the meaning of the Vedantic passages.

Author is Editor Prabuddha Bharata

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This article was first published in the October 2017 issue of Prabuddha Bharata, monthly journal of The Ramakrishna Order started by Swami Vivekananda in 1896. This article is courtesy and copyright Prabuddha Bharata. I have been reading the Prabuddha Bharata for years and found it enlightening. Cost is Rs 180/ for one year, Rs 475/ for three years, Rs 2100/ for twenty years. To subscribe http://advaitaashrama.org/pbSubscription

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