Significance of Shravana

March 11, 2012 Comments Off on Significance of Shravana

Hearing the exposition of Vasishtha Deva, Rama sat tranquil, fully absorbed within himself. The other listeners too sat equally absorbed within themselves. Sensing the scene, Sage Vasishtha stopped his narration, so as not to disturb the collective inner absorption. After some time, seeing them regain their wakeful attention, Vasishtha Deva re-commenced his narration.

This is a very important facet in Sage Vasishtha’s 18-day narration of the supreme spiritual and philosophical truths to the young prince Rama, sitting in the palace of Ayodhya. The importance and implication become pronounced, when we relate the event to the three pillars of Vedantic pursuit, namely shravana, manana and nididhyaasana. shravana denotes assiduous listening of the supreme spiritual Truth, especially when expounded by a Knower, an enlightened person. Once this is well had, the seeker automatically takes up the next phase, namely reflecting upon whatever he has heard. As a result, he understands clearly that the goal to be achieved is not outside or away. It is no other than the Self within his own body.

This knowledge, gaining in strength and depth, leads him to the third phase of contemplation and meditative absorption in his own within. That is the time he comes to know of the spiritual presence within his own body, and the unique magnitude and splendor it has. The effects are instantaneous.

Thus everything depends upon how well the exposure is made and how devout is the listening, to grasp straightaway the truths conveyed by the exponent. Sri Rama is extremely blessed in this; so also the rest of the audience in Ayodhya.

By now Sage Vasishtha has completed a large measure of his narration. His soulful rendering of the supreme spiritual truths and the devoted listening by the prince as well as others in the palace, have had their distinct fruition. That is how all of them sat absorbed in themselves, so much so that the Sage stopped his narration, not to disturb their silence and inner dip.

Scriptural narration and listening have remained an essential part of religious and spiritual life in our land. In fact, this culture of shravana is as ancient as the ageless Vedas, a fact that many, even erudite scholars, have apparently failed to assess and appreciate. In the Upanishads and other texts we find references to Itihaasas and Puraanaas (Chandogyopanishad 7.1.2, Brihadaaranyakopanishad 2.4.10, Aatmopanishad shloka 9, Manu Smriti 3.232), which clearly indicate that the epics and mythologies formed an integral part of the entire Vedic culture and teaching.

It is significant to think about how the narrational culture took shape and has continued ever since, to be a strong flair as well as austere pursuit even today.

– Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha

[Excerpts from Poojya Swamiji’s series called ‘Science of Inner Redemption’ being published in the Ashram Monthly journal Vicharasethu. This is based on the Nirvaana Prakarana of Yogavaasishtha Ramayana.]

© Narayanashrama Tapovanam, 2011


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