by Swami Veda Bharati
[This passage has been taken from the book Yogi in the Lab by Swami Veda Bharati, published in 2006 by SRSG Publications, Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama].
There are two levels in the study of a philosophical system and the texts thereof:
- The texts are not hypotheses or philosophical speculations. They are records of the highest masters communicating their personally experienced knowledge to their disciples. That is why we consider revealed text to be supreme authority. The revealed texts are called apta-grantha, the texts by those who have attained, for they are meant to inform and inspire.
They inform us as to:
- What the great masters received, and
- What the methods or steps were in the processes of such acquisition of experience of a given state of consciousness.
They inspire us as they tell us of what others have found and that we can also find.
- At the same time, in our traditions, the masters tell us that the revealed texts are not enough. They are to be understood by verifying them through personal sadhana, resulting in yogi-pratyaksha (personal verification in the yoga experience).
So, even though the system of Vedanta may make a statement about the Transcendent God, the final faith (shraddha) will come when we have seen God personally. Up to that time we accept the methods prescribed in the apta-granthas as our maps all the while knowing that – we should ourselves see and experience the city that has been shown to us in the map. Hence, we combine the practice of meditation with our study of texts and interpret the texts in the light of meditation experience. This in yoga is termed svadhyaya.
The word svadhyaya has two meanings:
The text was composed by those who had previously undertaken the same experiments and had obtained the verified and consistent results. Meditation is the lab work of spirituality.
- Intellectual study for and by one’s self, akin to reading a book on chemistry, and
- The study of one’s Self, akin to the experimental session in a lab to verify the statements in the book.