What is Shravan, Manan and Nidhidhyasana?

In the context of Vedanta, an ancient Indian philosophical tradition, Shravan (श्रवण), Manan (मनन), and Nidhidhyasana (निदिध्यासन) are three crucial practices or stages aimed at gaining and internalizing spiritual knowledge. These practices are designed to help an individual move from intellectual understanding to deep realization and experiential knowledge of the Self (Atman) and ultimate reality (Brahman).

1. Shravan (श्रवण)

Shravan means “listening” or “hearing” in Sanskrit. It is the first step in the process of acquiring spiritual knowledge.

  • Purpose: The aim of Shravan is to listen to the teachings of the scriptures (like the Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita) and the wisdom imparted by a qualified guru (spiritual teacher). This listening should be done with full attention and an open mind.
  • Process: During Shravan, one absorbs the teachings and doctrines about the nature of reality, the Self, and the universe. It involves attending discourses, reading scriptures, and understanding the concepts as conveyed by the sages and teachers.

2. Manan (मनन)

Manan means “reflection” or “contemplation.”

  • Purpose: The goal of Manan is to deeply reflect on the teachings heard during Shravan. This reflection helps in resolving doubts and achieving a clear and logical understanding of the concepts.
  • Process: During Manan, one engages in critical thinking and analytical contemplation on the teachings. This involves questioning, reasoning, and meditating on the lessons to ensure they make sense intellectually and are free from doubts. It’s a process of internalizing the teachings and making them one’s own through rational thought.

3. Nidhidhyasana (निदिध्यासन)

Nidhidhyasana means “profound meditation” or “concentrated contemplation.”

  • Purpose: The aim of Nidhidhyasana is to deeply meditate on the knowledge gained from Shravan and clarified through Manan until it becomes an integral part of one’s consciousness and lived experience. It is the stage of internal realization and assimilation of the truth.
  • Process: In Nidhidhyasana, one practices sustained and focused meditation on the essential truths learned. This stage involves turning inward and continuously meditating on the non-dual nature of reality and the unity of the Self with Brahman. It’s a process of dissolving the sense of separation and achieving direct experiential knowledge.

Integration in Spiritual Practice

These three practices form a progressive path in Vedantic sadhana (spiritual practice):

  1. Shravan provides the foundational knowledge.
  2. Manan ensures that this knowledge is thoroughly understood and free of doubts.
  3. Nidhidhyasana transforms intellectual understanding into experiential realization.

Together, Shravan, Manan, and Nidhidhyasana help a seeker move from ignorance (Avidya) to knowledge (Vidya), ultimately leading to Moksha (liberation) or the realization of one’s true nature as Brahman, the ultimate reality.