These are the words of the Rishis. This is how the Rishis of the Upanishads prayed to the Lord – “O Lord, bless us so that we may be able to retain in us the knowledge that we have heard through Shravana.”
Shravana, Manana and Nidhidhyaasana are the three aspects of Jnana. Our goal is to gain the direct experience of the Self and not just the knowledge of the sense objects.
In order to gain the experience of the sense objects, the trio of the experiencer, the object to be experienced and the instrument of experience is required. E.g. If the experience of a mango is to take place, the eyes (experiencer) are required. Here, mango is the object to be known. My intellect moves out through the eyes and covers the mango, creates an exact picture in me, only then can the knowledge of the mango take place. This is vritti jnana, knowledge of the sense objects.
Self knowledge is the direct experience of one’s real nature. Here, the object to be gained is me alone – not other than me as in the case of the mango.
Ramana Maharshi says, “Atmanirdvayaad Swaatmanishtata eva Swatmadarshanam.”
The Self is One – the seer and the seen are not different, therefore, in Self knowledge the trio is not required.
The “I” that rises in the ego is nothing other than this Self alone. It is of the nature of Nitya, Shuddha, and Mukta (Everlasting, Pure and Free). It does not have birth or death. Not only that, it doesn’t have even the modifications of childhood, youth, etc.nor does it have a beginning nor an end. It is the ever present and all pervading Light. It is our own real nature.
But, we wrongly consider the gross body as “I” and because of this identification there is a sense of mineness and thus deluded, we live as a limited ego.
Mother Shruti, out of her motherly love, declares, “That Brahman Thou Art.” When we listen to the words of the Guru, we seem to understand their meaning, but, in a short while, our past Vasanas (tendencies) catch up with us and remind us that we are Samsaris, and we become sad. This should not happen. The knowledge that we have heard should not go waste like an elephant’s bath. The knowledge that I have heard should get established in me. All of us should become established in this knowledge. That is why the prayer, “Shrutam Me Gopaaya”.
“Punah punah shravanam kuryaat” declare the Shastras. We must listen to the Self knowledge again and again.
In the Bhagawad Geeta, Lord Krishna says, “Adhyatma Jnana Nityatwam, Tatwa Jnanaartha darshanam.” This means that till such time that I get firmly established in the Truth, I must continue the Shravana of Self knowledge.
Forgetfulness is a grace of Lord Shiva. There is no reason as to as to why we forget, but we forget. That is a fact. The scriptures are there only to remind us. But still we keep forgetting. To avoid this, sadhaks pray, “Shrutam Me Gopaaya” .
Once there was a very poor man who lived in a hut. He was in the habit of going to the nearby temple to take prasad after the daily puja. Soon after the puja, Pongal prasad would be distributed to the poor in the compound. He was used to this routine for a number of years. In due course, he won a bumper lottery of Rs. 15 lakhs. Soon, he bought himself a huge bungalow, a car and started dressing in rich clothes.
One day, when he heard the temple bell, he went and sat amongst the poor, waiting to be fed. The Pujari, seeing the golden ring on his finger recognised him and said to him in surprise -“You are now a rich man, no longer are you a beggar – have you forgotten so soon?”
The man said, “Yes Sir, this silly forgetfulness of mine. I will not commit this mistake again.” We are also like that man. We listen to the Upanishads, do the Geeta Parayan, “My true nature is Satchidananda – I have no birth, no death” – we have heard all this. The very next moment we say,” My daughter is not yet married; only the other day my husband died; why did my son die; why did God do such a thing?”
Thus we cry out. All of this has only one cure – “Shrutam Me Gopaaya – O Lord bless me so that I may get established in the Self knowledge.”